The lights are on
Max Payne 3 has one trait that so many other mindless action games lack - it has character. Or more specifically, one character. Max Payne himself. The above quotes are just a small sampling of some of Payne's social commentary, and makes every minutes of Max Payne 3, even the rare moments when you aren't blowing people away in bullet time, a pleasure.
Players concerned about jumping into the series without having played both Max Payne 1 and 2, don't worry. Max Payne 3 makes it easy for new players to jump in and pick up on events in the previous games. Max now finds himself in Sao Paulo Brazil, attempting to finally escape the memories of his past by leaving them in New York. Working as a private security guard for a wealthy Sao Paulo family, Max quickly bites off more than he can chew when wife of business mogul Rodrigo Branco is kidnapped. It's up to Max to save her, but in traditional Max Payne fashion he will quickly discover that a seemingly simple kidnapping is anything but. Max Payne 3 benefits greatly from its great variety of exotic locations, whether it be the muddy streets of a favela or dance club atop a skyscraper. There are numerous flashback scenes as well, allowing players to also experience the traditional Max Payne setting of New York City and New Jersey, and the graphics are incredibly detailed to bring you into the experience.
The game plays as a big budget action movie, with the series' signature bullet time back with a vengeance. Players fill a meter by getting shot at and scoring kills, allowing for use of the special slow motion effect. Diving through windows, racing down ziplines and shooting everything in sight, all in slow motion, is standard fare in Max Payne 3, but every action set piece feels exciting and intense. This in part because of the games difficulty. Even on the normal setting, Max Payne 3 doesn't pull any punches. While many players will want to simply run, gun, and dive, it will often get you killed. To do well in Max Payne 3 is to use the cover system and use bullet time effectively. Keeping true to it's old school roots, you won't find a regenerating health bar here. Players must constantly manage their health and use painkillers to restore a wounded Max Payne. A new feature of the game allows for when Max is gunned down, as long as he has a bottle of pain killers, to return fire on his killer in slow motion. If the player manages to avenge himself in time, Max will return to the realm of the living. A wide variety of weapons, from pistols and revolvers to smg's and assault rifles are all at Max's disposal, and each type of weapon feels powerful and useful. I used pistols almost exclusively, preferring their accuracy to pull off headshots over pumping enemies full of lead with an assault rifle. While the majority of the game is spent using standard third person shooter gameplay, various action set pieces break up the regular duck and shoot such as vehicle gunner missions, or covering your partner with a sniper rifle. These scenes break up the gameplay nicely, but it would have been nice to see Max, maybe just once, do something other than shoot, such as driving the vehicle himself or simple platforming segments. The few boss battles present in the game are fairly disappointing and don't live up to the excitement of the regular gameplay, but they are few and far between and do little to hurt the game overall.
Clocking in anywhere from 7 to 11 hours depending on player skill, Max Payne 3 offers more than enough content to justify a purchase. Numerous collectibles are sprinkled throughout the 14 missions, either being clues that add context to the story of golden gun pieces that don't do much aside from color guns golden. After completion of the single player game various other difficulties and modes are unlocked, such as New York Minute mode that has players attempting to beat each mission in only a minute, gaining additional time by killing enemies. Players tired of playing single player can jump into an extensive online multiplayer component that features clans, character customization and unlockable weapons and attachments.
But by far the most important feature of Max Payne 3 is Max Payne himself. The characters great writing, solid voice acting, and constant chatter makes every gameplay segment a delight. Even simple tasks such as searching a room for additional painkillers,clues or ammo has Max commented about stealing a person's medication or drowning his sorrows, and while it might seem like it would get tiresome, it doesn't, as every internal monologue is unique and never repeated. Max is a tormented soul, constantly giving the player his own strange philosophy on life that comes off as a joke but also has real meaning. He tries his hardest to succeed and do right, but always fails and runs into trouble. Max is completely aware of this fact, and his self loathing comments are often humorous, but also sad.The writer's took advantage of the games health system and make Max an alcoholic addicted to painkillers, as he is constantly chugging pill bottles for health. The monlogues and constant wisecracking allow players to get into the head of a video game character like never before.
All in all, Max Payne 3 is a action shooter polished to no end. Even then, Max Payne 3 would be a good game. But what sets the game truly above its counterparts is the leading man himself. As players descend into the bowls of Sao Paulo with Max, they will learn more about what makes him tick and his real desire to do good in a world that hasn't been kind to him. It's this narrative that pushes the game forward, and it's this reason why gamers deserve an action hero like Max Payne.
Wow. Amazing review. Max payne is my second favorite of the year so far.