Max Payne 3 review

Cover isn’t the only thing that got an upgrade. While your cover is quickly being turned into swiss cheese, the enemy AI is closing in. With incredible aim and strong sense of urgency, the AI keeps you on your toes. In one level I was pinned down behind a pillar reloading my shotgun as soldiers poured into the room in front of me. Some rushed forward as the men in the back layed cover fire.

The health system took the fresh approach of not giving the player regenerative health. You will keep tabs on your painkiller stash. This adds even more excitement to the already frantic gunfights. When Max pops a painkiller the screen warps and bends for a moment visually pulling the player in for a brief moment while Max’s health regenerates. Max can pop a pain pill pretty much at any time, even mid bullet dodge…which looks hilarious.

To say Max Payne 3 is violent is an understatement, but the violence is and always has been a part of the series. This one though is by far the bloodiest. Bullets enter and exit enemies with grim detail. Max’s wounds are clearly visible and accurate where he has been hit. And enemies are not immune, they display entry and exit wounds. A rifle makes a big hole and a shotgun makes many little holes depending on how far away Max is when he fires it.

The new Kill Cam does a great job of dramatizing the final shot in a firefight. As Max pulls the trigger the camera cuts to a cinematic view which can be slowed down even further by pressing the action button. From there you can follow the bullet as it passes across the battlefield and straight into your target.

The most gratifying aspect of this mode is that you can continue firing during the event and Max will automatically follow his target to the ground. Something some players may remember from MP2 that was a great feature but after the first shot the enemy would fall and Max would miss with any additional shots. This change is well received and puts a sweet ending to a fight.

The set pieces for Max Payne 3 are detailed and gritty. Though much of what made Max Payne 2 great has been left out. While they are visually beautiful, the interactivity is mostly gone. Max could ‘play’ with his environment in MP2 by turning on TV’s and watching shows, turning on forklifts to gain access to hidden treasures, and knocking over red barrels to drop onto unsuspecting enemies. While all games in the franchise have a linear progression, this latest installment feels more strict than the others.

Story mode has its good and bad but overall is very fun and satisfying. The load times are conveniently hidden in the cutscenes, however on your subsequent playthroughs you will find you can’t skip cutscenes since the game is “still loading” behind them.

If you are looking for a game with challenge I highly recommend beating MP3 on Hard then on Hardcore. I recommend Old School mode which is just Hardocre mode without Last Stand.

Think Dark Souls with guns.

Arcade mode has plenty of variety to keep ‘unplugged’ players and online players alike happy. Test your skills against your previous best or global online ranks in Score Attack or go fast and hectic in New York Minute where you have to take out enemies to gain time and survive the level starting with just one minute on the clock. Kills are worth 3 seconds head shots are worth 5.

As a nod to the hardcore fans who have been downloading multiplayer mods for years, now MP3 offers it. There has certainly been a demand for multiplayer and Rockstar pulled it off nicely with fresh game modes and a deep loadout system with perks and boosts that ensure it’s anyone's gunfight.

All the game mechanics of story mode are in multiplayer. There is even a game mode called Gang Wars which tries to weave its own small story through a best of five match using the different game modes.

Multiplayer is sure to give competitive players months of game play to come after beating story mode, and while Max may have been taken in a not entirely perfect direction, he certainly entertains and with new DLC coming as early as June, we don’t expect Max Payne to run out of ammo anytime soon.

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.