Max Payne 3

Developed by Rockstar Vancouver

Published by Rockstar Studios, Subsidiary of Take-Two Interactive

Rated: Mature

Released: May 15th, 2012


            Max Payne 3 caters to the adult gamer. Not because of sex, violence (although it’s loaded with it), or ridiculous language (even though that’s there too), but because of its subject matter. Deep down, Max Payne 3 is about one man who has lost his way. A drunken degenerate, Max Payne has lost his way, solving his problems by drowning them in booze and pills. Deep down, his regrets have transformed him into a cynical, depressed man who ultimately waits for something to come along and end his life. When Max is forced out of retirement he takes a job as a private security guard for a rich family in Sao Paulo, Brazil, headed by Rodrigo Bronco. Unfortunately, when Rodrigo’s wife Fabiana is kidnapped by an underground organization Max and his partner Raul Passos head out to find her while Max slowly begins to uncover something much darker than he anticipated.

            Max Payne 3 is a third person shooter at its core. Rockstar, known for its open world games such as Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead Redemption, ditches the open world aspect for a fairly linear experience, but it ultimately pays off. Max Payne 3 is a story driven adventure, one that continuously pauses the action for long character driven cutscenes that not only give the player insight onto what’s going on, but also further delves into the mind of its main character. Without these segments, the game would not carry the emotional depth that it does, or keep the player’s attention. The story is well written, tightly weaved, and deals with subject that a lot of video games fail to ever acknowledge successfully. Corruption, corporate greed, the hypocrisy of the rich, and of course the dark nature of violence inside one’s soul are all poured into one pot and thrown at the player in a crazy, surreal way, all told through the eyes of the craziest man of all: Max Payne. His cynic narrations, as well as his out-of- touch-with-humanity nature, drive the story forward and pull you in. It’s a dark, disturbing game, even though it’s set in a bright city in Brazil. Max Payne has always been a noire-type thriller, and even though Rockstar has changed its location from New Jersey to Sao Paulo, the game still has a noire feel too it. Every city has its demons and scandals, and Sao Paulo is no exception. Sao Paulo also seems to jive perfectly with Max Payne himself, who is out of touch with their culture and does not understand their language. He is a stranger in a strange land, lost in this place that he has no knowledge of. It’s an allegory for Max himself, who is out of touch with the rest of humanity and to an even greater extent himself.

            The world Rockstar has created here is an incredibly rich and atmospheric one. Not constricted by an open world, the company was allowed to really flaunt the power of its RAGE Engine. Every location, from a high-class club to the shanty towns of the poorer side of Sao Paulo, the environments are rich and full of detail. The characters themselves look incredibly realistic, with amazing movements. Max Payne is one of the best looking game characters ever created; you can see separate stubble in his five o’ clock shadow, the lines on his tired face. It’s incredibly well done; indeed, Max Payne 3 is one of the best looking games to come out this generation. The atmosphere, facial animations, and overall look and feel of the game combine to create an insanely addicting experience. The soundtrack, composed by the band HEALTH, further adds to the atmosphere in the game. Max’s main theme alone is beautifully done, but each score adds to the action and the revelations throughout the story.

            It also helps that Max Payne 3 is a joy to play from a gameplay perspective. A third person shooter, the game continues to throw enemies at you that slowly become tougher to defeat as the game moves on. It’s not an easy game: you will die, especially if you play on the hardest difficulty. It never feels cheap, however, thanks to tight controls and a great cover system. The shooting mechanics are made even better by Bullet Time, which allows Max to slow down time to take out enemies faster while also dodging bullets in the process. It’s easily the best slow-mo mechanic I’ve played in a long time, and it rarely falters. To keep Max from dying, he has to digest pain killers that are scattered around the levels. Health regeneration is not a factor here, and if one intends to survive, pain killers are a must. If Max is carrying pain killers, he can survive kill shots by slowing down time and trying to shoot the enemy who dealt the blow. If the player can pull off the shot and down the enemy, a pain killer is used and drains away Max’s damage. If the shot is missed, Max dies, simple as that. Gun variety is another plus. Max can hold two pistols at all times, and one bigger weapon that he holds in his hand when using the pistol. If the player decides to dual-wield pistols, he drops the bigger weapon. When doing so, the player will have to replace that weapon or simply pick it back up again. It’s simple, but effective.

The single-player campaign is ripe for replayability; Hard mode is an incredible challenge, especially when the free aim mode is chosen for shoot outs. There are golden parts throughout each level, which combine to create golden weapons. When all golden weapons are acquired, the player can unlock infinite ammo when replaying the campaign. Other cheats are accessed when certain objectives are complete, such as invincibility and infinite bullet time.

            I did come across a few gameplay glitches as I played. Sometimes while in cover, Max will shoot straight up into the air; this only happened once or twice, but depending on the situation one is in at the time of this little inconvenience, it could mean the death of the player. Texture pop-in, especially in cutscenes, is not necessarily common but happens every once in a while, and sometimes sound comes in and out for a split second. The game contains no load times however, so these glitches may be attributed to this factor. None of these really destroy the game, or even hinder it all too much, but you will come across it at least once. Also, even though the story is incredibly strong and Max Payne is an exceptionally well written character, some of the other characters in the story, especially the villains, fall on the way side. They are still well acted and are interesting to listen to when talking, but they are one dimensional in the end. But this is Max Payne’s story, and in this regard the game does not disappoint (in fact it succeeds with flying colors). He is such an interesting character, a multi-dimensional anti-hero that is lost in his own head and is stuck in the past. Every event that happens in the game is an allegory to Max’s past and his own inner demons that he cannot escape.

            In the end, Max Payne 3 is an excellent game that bridges story and gameplay through the eyes of an emotional character unlike anything I have ever seen before in a game. The game, with an exciting story, gorgeous environments, and intense gunplay, should not be missed. It’s a dark tale, one full of mystery and corruption intertwined with the internal torture of a man who has lost his mind.