Release Date: May 15, 2012
Developer: Rockstar Vancouver
Platform: PS3 / X360 / PC
Max Payne 3 is the third and last installment of the Max Payne franchise. The first two games were developed by Remedy Entertainment, but the franchise is now owned by Rockstar. The game begins nine years after the second installment; Max has retired from his job as NYPD and has apparently lost his family. This somber mood is introduced when Max views a family picture and is later confirmed upon seeing the grave of his wife and child. So to express his grief, Max Payne has become a drunken, pill popping bodyguard oblivious to the troubles around him. His negligence, though, springs forth death to all unfortunate enough to encounter him.
His personality is cynical at best, and he displays risky behaviors that endangers those he’s supposed to protect. His new persona may not be pleasant; I’ll even go as far to say that I had distaste for him, but his personality is different compared to the “vengeance hero” we’re accustomed to. Also, his snarky monologues are amusing. The tragic turn of events in his life have given him a dark wit the audience will surely enjoy. To continue with the plot, Max finds himself in Brazil as a bodyguard to the obscenely rich Brancos family with his savior and partner Passo.
Why did our rugged hero need saving? It just so happens that his bad temper caused the death of a crime lord’s son, which led to all of New Jersey wanting him dead. However, the Branco’s have their own skeletons in their closets, which leads to an internal collapse of the family. Max also has to later deal with the corrupt police infrastructure inside the country. The game’s story seems simple at first, but slowly complicates itself. This isn’t a game that can be played half-heartedly. If you do, you’ll easily get lost.
I will admit, this is the first Max Payne game I’ve played. I enjoyed the game, but it was sometimes hard to will myself to play because I wasn’t emotionally invested in it. It seems like seeing his starting point and struggles are especially important in order to feel anything for him. I made it clear that I wasn’t fond of Max Payne’s character in the beginning of the game. He’s not obligated to be the typical hero because this isn’t that kind of game. However, he was full of self-pity which was displayed through his unhealthy habits. Those habits hindered his ability as a bodyguard and had he been fully functional, many deaths could have been prevented. However, Max Payne really grows as a character as the story unravels. Still, it seemed his choice for redemption did little to rectify the situation he’d been thrown into. That is what I applaud the developers for.
Moving on to the gameplay, the game is your standard third person shooter, but it does give players the option of how much handicap is desired over Max’s aim. The ever prevalent “bullet time,” made popular by the original Max Payne is also back in full force. I fought tooth and nail to avoid using this ability. I’ll admit it can be especially useful in tight spots, however a little patience on the audience’s part delivered the same result: dead men bathed in their own blood. I had little patience to use this ability early on because it seemed to take too long. It did have its uses towards the end of the game though. Max also has an array of weapons to choose from, not that you’ll know the difference because all the weapons handle the same. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s a typical problem found in most third person shooter games. You don’t have to worry about running out of ammo though, because upon killing an enemy Max can scoop up their weapons and automatically replenish his ammunition.
Being such a straightforward game, Max Payne 3 has little diversions in the storyline, the legendary golden weapons being among the few. These little gold mines are scattered in each chapter throughout the game. When I first noticed a piece of a glowing weapon, I immediately snatched it up. Then the hunt had begun; chapter after chapter, another piece or two would catch my eye. Although, it never seemed to be enough. Each new chapter revealed another new piece. I was only able to complete one collectible at chapter twelve. Furthermore, upon putting the puzzle together, your gun turns gold, Max gains a 10% increase in power, and an increased ammo capacity per magazine; a very handy bonus. These beautifully rendered killing machines can also be used in multiplayer.
Speaking of multiplayer, I took the opportunity to play it and enjoyed what it offered. It took a few matches (and many deaths), but I was eventually able to get a feel for the game and how teamwork would work in this realm. Players are immediately divided based on whether they use free aim or soft aim. Also, levels are a huge factor as to how players are divided. Players are rookies until level 4, which means they have to make do with the loadouts that are already unlocked at the start. Have no fear, though, within the rookie section you’ll no longer be annihilated by those who have substantially higher levels. Instead, you’re going to be obliterated by those who have actual skill. In order to unlock other options, certain achievements have to be unlocked and objectives have to be completed a certain number of times. The array of starter weapons within the game is adequate, but if you want more firepower, this is done by earning cash. This can be accomplished by winning games, pillaging corpses and lastly, completing grinds (objectives).
I won’t pretend to have extensive knowledge of the multiplayer, but from my experiences, I can tell you are given a lot of control over your character. For example, the amount of weapons you give your character affects their regenerative ability. The heavier you are, the slower your health recovers. And yes, if you do hold too much weight, your health will cease to recover. Players also have the ability to utilize “Shootdodging” (bullet time) by earning adrenaline, which you gain by damaging other players. The adrenaline can also be used to activate “Bursts,” which are special abilities/perks that aid you in battle. There are different types of bursts as well. Some bursts have the ability to make your character appear friendly to enemies, while others increase your movement speed. Each burst has a number of levels and can also be customized by the player.
One thing I really enjoyed about the game was how the action was enthralling and very detailed oriented. I enjoyed how Max could knock over items when he ran into them. I also enjoyed the rippled veins trailing up his arms, his five o’ clock shadow, and the age in his face. I really liked the amount of detail that went into all of these things. When Max was holding a weapon and the game switched into a cut scene, the weapon was still seen and properly discarded. The developers even went as far as to show the alcoholic beverage Max often consumed shifting and decreasing as he drank it. I also enjoyed that the background characters had varying body builds, unlike other games where every character is shaped in the same fashion.
Even the AI had detail when they were close enough to be viewed and I don’t recall the developers reusing the same AI character more than once. However, AI movements were definitely predictable; expect all of them to make the same movements at one point during the same battle. Predictability doesn’t quite matter though, when players are being assaulted by a large number of them. That being said, the AI’s death reactions were very appropriate when they were hit in designated spots. I even shot a few AIs in the groin, only to chuckle as they clutched themselves in agony and slinked to the ground.
In conclusion, Max Payne 3 has a story that seems simple at first, but slowly it reveals more layers than originally anticipated. The graphical details are amazing and the action scenes are glorious. There aren’t many diversions from the storyline, but the plot is entertaining enough to overlook this. Also, I may not like or be emotionally invested in Max’s progress, but I can certainly appreciate his growth and redemption. Lastly, the multiplayer is very entertaining, with deep mechanics for the hardcore players to enjoy until the next big multiplayer game arrives.
- Simple story at first glance that has plenty of complexities within
- Very meticulous graphical details
- Enthralling and exciting gun battles
- Solid multiplayer modes
- Predictable AI strategies
- Hard to be emotionally invested in Max unless you played the previous games