The lights are on
Reviewed on PC
After being fired from “New York’s finest” Max appears to
have picked up drinking to pass his free time and fallen to pill addiction. A
friend offers him a private security job in South America for the rich Branco
family. But you already know these facts already, let’s bite into the game…
The story is a dark exciting thriller but at times it does
feel a bit clichéd. It’s a tale of
betrayal, corruption, and redemption presented in a neo-noir style rather than
the plain “film noir” that we have come to know in the previous ones. But this
is not necessarily a bad decision, it has its strengths and weaknesses. It’s easy to see how some movies have influenced the style of
some scenes found in the game (eg: Elite Squad, City of God, and Man on Fire
The story is not delivered in the pages of a graphic novel
but instead you have stylised cutscenes that jar and shake and distort and split. While
these produce a quite unique look to the game it may also be likely to irritate
a few players out there. In addition these “effects” also reflects Max’s
psyche, it is noticeable that each time he sips a drink, the distortions get
more violent. It is known.
Another thing some players will most likely not be fond of
is that the game has a lot of cutscenes in between those parts where you fill
people with bullet holes, especially the when they make Max pull out his
sidearm instead of the awesome Assault Rifle you just picked up. And a 5 second
scene for opening doors and for pushing buttons may cause some level of
distress to certain players too.
The writing of the dialogues/monologues is surprising well
done by Rockstar Studios, but is in no way close to the complexity of the
writing done by Sam Lake of Remedy, this may just be my opinion but the complex
metaphor laden lines of MP1 and MP2 surpass the work done here. But Max is still
pretty much Max, only more cynical and glum. But I will admit most lines of Max
from MP3 are straightforward but hilarious nonetheless, especially the
introduction of an interesting feature - Max says a few words after picking up
“I’d have felt worse taking someone’s medication if
everybody in that place hadn’t been trying to kill me.”
Max Payne 3’s graphics powered by the RAGE engine look impressive,
and the Euphoria based physics look greater than ever, after seeing this I don’t
think I can go back to the old school Havok Ragdoll physics. The amount of
effort put into the environment and the little clutter objects is amazing, each
room in a level looks real, it tells you a story of its previous occupants. I
also noticed the little details they added for great effect, as each mission
advances its easy to note Max’s sweat on his clothes, and the really cool
“dynamic normal maps” (?) it is seen as Max moves, take note of the folds and
wrinkles at the back of his shirt move too, I found this to be quite a nice
touch. And of course the bullets punching the faces of your foes, ripping their
flesh and spraying blood on the walls and the floor in Bullet-time are also breathtakingly
awesome visuals... if you are into that sort of thing.
The gameplay is Max Payne 3’s strongest point, apart from
the character of Max of course. It’s safe to say Max Payne has reclaimed his
throne (the TPS Throne). Max Payne 3 uses the old school third person camera,
not the over-the-shoulder one that we see too often. I will try to break up the
gameplay into chunks knowledge.
On easier difficulties it’s definitely playable in the
run-and-gun of old, but it is possible to do it on Hard mode too but the
enemies get dangerously accurate further into the game while taking cover only
when you need to gather your thoughts, but keep in mind there is no regenerative
health like most games, you will need to collect painkillers to keep you alive
and numb at the same time. By holding the Right-click (Left trigger) it is
possible to enter a “zoom” mode where he sacrifices movement speed for more accurate
shots, this is a feature found in many modern games.
Players can also use cover and fire behind them, but staying in cover for too
long allows the incredibly advanced AI enemies to pull flanking manoeuvres, I once
got flanked on both sides by angry shotgun wielding paramilitary folk, but it
was nothing a good ol’ shootdoge backwards can’t fix.
Bullet-Time is simply amazing, after MP3 was released on
consoles I had to play MP2 to comfort myself to deal with the 15 day “delay” and
it made me recall how awesome the slo-mo dodges and kills really were. And so
when I finally did get to play MP3 I was still blown away. In its third
iteration it is fitted with all the new technology advancements such as the new
physics engine and its reaction to bullets and projectiles just make this the visually
amazing. I can’t express how great it looked to see enemies react to each bullet.
The Bullet-Time killcams are back, like after you dispatch the last enemy in
the area time slows down, and it allows you to slow it down even further and
also gives you the ability to just carelessly shoot more bullets at the corpse…
Shootdodges are back too, these nifty moves allow Max to jump through the air
and deliver justice to wrongdoers in John Woo style. But with each shootdodge
Max grunts as he jumps and he grunts as he lands, his old age is starting to
show and he takes longer to stand up after hitting the ground too, making him
an easy target for enemies shoot at. But a new little feature allows him to
stay on the ground in a prone position for as along as he lives to allow you to
pick off any survivors of the previous shootdodge instead of trying to stand up
while a guy is shooting a t you. I noticed many reviewers from other sites stated
that shootdodging is not useful, it only gets you killed, and this is wrong, as
it needs to be utilized properly – one important pointer to fellow
shootdodgers, use the momentum of the dodge to get up much faster from the ground
by moving in the direction you jumped in without giving pause as he lands.
A new feature is the “Bullet-Time hotspots” as I like to call it, these are spots
triggered scenes where Max is doing something incredible and you are given Bullet-Time
and infinite ammo take for example this scene: Max is hanging from a hook
attached to a chain that is hanging from the ceiling while bad guys are coming
in through a door down below, go nuts.
Another new feature called Last Man Standing, it is a state that Max goes into
if his health depletes as long as he didn’t receive a headshot (in that case
you are DEAD), and in this state he expends a painkiller to give himself a
chance to kill the dude who got the last bullet in him, failing to do so before
max is down and dead results in DEATH. This is quite useful but I’m not really
a fan of it, I’d prefer death over a cool looking Bullet-Time shot (sometimes
laughable, at the way Max positions himself to take the final shot).
The balance found in the weapons is one of the finest I have
ever seen in a game, generally the biggest weapon is the best, in this game the
weight of a weapon also affects the speed at which you move the reticule and
most often that time gets you killed. The dual wielding feature has been
stepped up another degree of customisation that allows players to dual wield
with any combination of one handed weapons, Uzi and sawed-off shotgun? No problem.
Old-School fans will be a bit disappointed that Max can carry only two sidearms
and a single two-handed weapon, and when he is carrying a two-handed weapon he
can equip only a single sidearm and not both at the same time.
It’s still a mystery to me on how Rockstar Studios managed
to add Bullet-Time in an online environment. But nevertheless the online
component in MP3 is bloody fun!
As players progress through a round they build up their adrenaline bar, this
can be used to activate various bursts, bursts are used to tip the scales in
your favour, bursts include the Bullet-Time shootdodge (all players caught in the
activators line of sight, including the activator, enter Bullet-Time, but only
the activator can move the reticule freely while the others move it in an
extremely slow speed) health power-ups, defence, and increased damage etc.
There are several Multiplayer modes available including the traditional
Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Payne Killer and Gang Wars. Unfortunately at this
time I haven’t been able to try most of these modes, but without a doubt they
seem interesting and can be played for a really long time after you have
completed the Singleplayer mode and those Arcade modes.
As a fan of the Max Payne series we found closure to his
story at the end of the second one, but Remedy themselves added the “Max
Payne's journey through the night will continue” bit, which left us is suspense
and 9 years after that Rockstar reminded us with a near-perfect gaming experience that Bullet-Time is not just a
gimmick its a way of dealing death, an art, like Sun Tzu’s scripts on war, we
tell ourselves we don’t need another Max Payne, we tell ourselves a lot of
things, all cr**.