I started playing Max Payne 3 today. Picked it up during a Steam sale and finally cleared up the 30-some gigabytes of storage you need to install the game. It's ridiculous. A few controller hurdles later and I was playing. 

The thing about Max Payne is that it was not especially fun. You play as a boozed-out and washed-out former detective trying to navigate the crime-ridden streets of Brazil. The game is a non-stop wave of shootouts. You blast bad guys, criminals, and militia alike. Max has killed around a hundred men in the first five chapters alone. 

Max Payne is a good shooter. The mechanics are solid. Point, aim, shoot. You can use bullet time to put everything into slow-mo and line up headshots. Combine that with a dive button and the game becomes John Woo's fantasy. 

And yet...

The longer I played, the more sure I felt about the gameplay. Shooting endless waves of bad guys was boring. It was the same thing, over and over again. It was the same thing I'd experienced in Red Dead Redemption or most third-person shooters before. Walk into a room, line up headshots, repeat. 

Little sets the game apart from competitors. Why play Max Payne 3 instead of Red Dead Redemption or Grand Theft Auto V? What does this game offer? Bullet time is a neat gimmick, but a unique experience it makes not. 

Where's the innovation? The creativity? This is Rockstar we're talking about. These guys hire some of the most talented developers in the entire world. They make games that define the industry. So why do I feel a sense of ennui playing Max Payne? 

Some of this is because of the way the industry has been moving. You see developers putting more wood behind fewer arrows, trying to make each game a blockbuster. They want to get that mass-market hit that can pay for exorbitant triple-A development costs. 

This pushes developers to make more bland games they hope will appeal to a wider audience. Don't be innovative, don't do something different, don't rock the boat. Just give gamers the same thing they've always bought and you can make your money. 

You can see this kind of thinking with Max Payne 3's design. Every cutscene is skippable, allowing gamers to get straight to the action. Players don't have to suffer through slow sections or boring bits. Every bit of gameplay is pure action, designed to keep the player engaged. It's like Rockstar is afraid if we control Max for more than 30 seconds without a shootout we'll get bored. 

Max Payne 3 is another bland would-be blockbuster. It flashes the illusion of quality with a competent story about an alcoholic former detective but lacks the substance to back it up. There's nothing here we haven't seen a thousand times before. 

That bores me. I've played this game before. I've saved damsels in distress, I've shot goons, I've done sniping sections. I dislike doing them again. 

This is why Max Payne 3 is boring. It lacks the flavor necessary to stand out from other video games. Sure, it's mildly enjoyable, but there's no reason to play this over any other shooter. 

Am I crazy? Is it just me, or is Max Payne 3 boring?

(image credits)