How Max Payne 3 made me a Rockstar fan once more

When I was in high school, I was a sucker for Rockstar Games. Anything published or developed by that company was on my list of games to play. I even played the atrocious State of Emergency. Whether I was playing Manhunt, Red Dead Revolver, or Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (still my favorite entry in the series to date), I was having a blast and getting more engulfed in the world of Rockstar.

Then there was the Remedy-developed Max Payne. That game was special because not only was it the first game I owned with the Rockstar logo on it, but it was also the first M-rated title to make its way to my collection. Max Payne 2, on the other hand, is a game I hold very dear because at the time of its release, it was easily one of my most desired sequels. I don't think I've ever wanted a follow-up to a game more than Max Payne 2.

I can recount all of the wonderful memories I had with both games, but I'm not going to do that. Instead, I'm going to fast forward a few years. Games like Grand Theft Auto IV and L.A. Noire were hitting retailers, and while I was certainly intrigued at first, I found myself souring on Rockstar. I couldn't really understand it, but I just wasn't interested in playing anything Rockstar had to offer. As for Grand Theft Auto V, well, the debut trailer didn't do much to get me excited about that game.

Then there was Max Payne 3. The existence of that game dates back to 2004, when it was first announced by Take-Two. That was followed by years of no information, and countless gamers including myself were terribly disappointed. Of course, Max Payne 3 would later resurface, and when it did, I was one skeptical son of a b*tch. Was Max hiding behind cover in those screenshots? Wait, Max is bald! And kind of fat! What's with all the brightness?! This isn't Max Payne at all!

As all of those thoughts dug themselves deeper into my brain, I grew more and more terrified at the idea of one of my favorite franchises in all of gaming falling victim to the cover-based third-person shooter trend. Throw in the fact that online multiplayer was going to be included, and I was literally (figuratively) sh*tting my pants in a fit of rage. I don't like change. I'm pretty set in my ways, and when something takes a drastic turn — something like Max Payne, which was known for being a compelling single-player franchise — I immediately go into a mode of cynical panic.

Fast forward once again, this time to just a few days after the launch of Max Payne 3, and here I am still playing the game. But I'm not playing the single-player campaign. No, I already got through that, and I truly enjoyed it. What I've been playing for the past several weeks is the online multiplayer component. The action is just so addictive that I can't put the game down. Games like Saints Row: The Third, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, and Jetpack Joyride previously stole massive chunks of my time, but they've all been dethroned by Max Payne 3.

While the primary reason I love Rockstar's latest effort is indeed the multiplayer component, I'd be remiss if I didn't express how much I dig the campaign. Yes, this game's story strays a bit too far from the last two chapters in the series; and yes, it feels more like a reboot than a sequel. But bearing that in mind, Max Payne 3 is just a magnificently stylish game that showcases modern video game storytelling at its finest. The animations, camera angles, filters, and voice acting all blend to create one hell of a ride from start to finish.

It's all of these impressive little touches that have really made me a believer in Rockstar once again. Not only did this game prove me wrong when I thought it would be no good, but it rewarded me. It didn't just say, "You're wrong" and walk away. It said, "You're wrong, and here's why. Enjoy." And that's exactly what I did: I enjoyed it. Max Payne 3 captivated me with its rich storytelling and compelling single-player gameplay, and it has kept me sticking around due to its engrossing multiplayer.

In a shocking turn of events, I'm actually stoked to play Grand Theft Auto V now. I'm interested in seeing how that game's story will unfold and if the folks over at Rockstar can outdo themselves and once again deliver a rich and bold story. Additionally, I'm interested in the multiplayer element that's sure to be included, as indicated by the fact that Rockstar Games Social Club Crews will carry over from Max Payne 3.

In the meantime, however, I'll keep enjoying the multiplayer in this recent Rockstar title. Oh, and you can bet your ass I'll be supporting the game by shelling out some cash for the upcoming DLC. Rockstar, you've made me a believer once more, and I have to say, it's good to be back.

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