Max Payne 3 review
It’s been almost a decade since Max Payne 2: The Fall Of Max Payne. Rockstar picks up on Max’s story from a similar position. Not surprisingly, Max is now retired, popping pills and boozing as he laments the death of his family.
Our story begins with Max accepting a body guard gig from forgotten academy colleague Raul Passos. Max’s meeting with Raul sets off a series of events that leave Max little choice but to flee New Jersey and head to Brazil. MP3 starts off with Max and Passos working to protect industrialist Rodrigo Branco and his family.
Brazilian gang, the Commando Sombra, kidnap the mogul’s young bombshell wife setting off a chain reaction of gunfire with Max caught in the middle. Every gunshot uncovers a deeper and darker secret that goes beyond just kidnapping.
Blurs, color distortions, and scan lines fill the screen this time around as part of the new and bold direction Rockstar has taken with the franchise. At first these distorting effects are a bit disorienting and unwanted, but as Max interacts with the environment and goes through the story these effects do an excellent job of bringing the player into the confusion Max is feeling.
MP3 has been criticized by its strong new artistic direction by fans and critics alike, but it’s clear Rockstar’s goal for this game is to stay true to the strong base that makes Max Payne great while still updating the franchise to be stylish and sophisticated but meet the requirements of a proper shooter today.
This drastic change in style can also be seen in the story. The traditional elements of a great noir story are still in place, and even though Rockstar has changed the setting dramatically to much outrage, this is the best place to tell Max’s story. It creates a mirror to Max’s personal issues and complex character.
The locale is all about contrast. The series swaps out darkness and snow for sunshine and heat in sunny Sao Paulo, Brazil. The tall shiny buildings of the rich tower over the labyrinth of dirty favelas below. Similarly, Max is a white knight who poisons himself daily while rescuing others. As you go through the story, you aren’t sure if Max is out to save the girl, or sacrifice himself as penance for his own guilt.
Everything we loved about the previous installments is here. Bullet Time and Bullet Dodge are still the norm but the RAGE Engine makes diving from cover to cover more realistic than ever. Last Stand is a new feature where if Max is dealt a killing shot, he can use one of his painkillers and live...if he manages to shoot the enemy that dealt the blow.
It’s clear a lot of time was spent on rethinking the game mechanics so Max Payne could stand against modern day shooters.
The weapon system has been redone to be more realistic as well. Gone are the days when Max could carry a shotgun, two uzis, two pistols, and a larger shotgun. Max is limited to two handguns and one rifle or shotgun. While he can dual wield his hand guns, it will cause him to drop his power weapon. This realistic approach feels different, but dropping my rifle to pull out my dual desert eagles and bullet dodge through a window felt like badass incarnate.
Advancements aside, there is less variety in weapons and the ones you get don’t show off anything amazing. The laser sight weapons later in the game feel worse than the weapons without it.
Also, in one mission Max is given a silenced pistol that you never see again. It would have been great to have more control over weapon choices and more access to all the varieties of weapons. What good are bullets if they aren’t destroying the furniture? Max Payne 3 brings with it destructible environments. Sticking with the realism, cover breaks and chips as it takes enemy fire urging Max to dive from cover to cover and stay moving.