If I had to describe Max Payne 3 in one word it would be intense, though brutal would also be appropriate. Max Payne 3 has some big shoes to fill since the first entry in the franchise is responsible for the “bullet time” mechanic, which is something many games have tried to build upon while still not meeting the mark set by the original. If you haven’t played the first two games, don’t fret the story is entirely new, though there is a level in a graveyard where having played the originals will give you some back story on some of the graveyard’s inhabitants. The main story points that are important are Max’s wife and daughter were murdered and he became a vigilante to make those responsible pay.
Now that we have gotten the back story out-of-the-way, Max Payne 3 focuses on Max doing security detail for the Brancos (an elitist family in Brazil). All is going well until kidnapping attempts are made and Max finds himself falling back into the life he left behind in New Jersey. Anyone remotely familiar with the character Max Payne knows that he harbors a lot of guilt for his families death which is why be abuses alcohol and pain killers to the extent at which he does, so when Fabiana Branco gets kidnapped it becomes personal.
When I found out that Max Payne 3 wasn’t being made by Remedy I had my reservations, especially since I played the original ad nauseam and didn’t want another Bioshock 2 situation. To my relief Rockstar put their A-team on it and made a very good game. Max Payne 3 is true to the spirit of the original while still being fresh and adding to the shooter genre. The writing is solid and has all the internalized monologues a fan of film noir could hope for. Rockstar made improvements where they needed to and left the things that worked alone, for example “bullet time” hasn’t changed much even though the targeting system has, giving you the option of Hard Lock, Soft Lock or Free Aim.
The world is immersive and the characters are fully developed, which makes for a very rich and satisfying experience. I played the game on the medium difficulty setting, but ran into a wall during part three which had me dropping the difficulty to easy. On the normal difficulty, which is medium, the game is rather challenging and offers a full range of difficulties to meet any skill level. The campaign is pretty long and is easily ten hours, not to mention completing all the grinds, the in-game challenges, which add a lot of replay value. There is also a ton of content in the multiplayer which is fast and chaotic. The multiplayer consists of the usual suspects such as deathmatch and team deathmatch. There are also new modes such as Payne Killer which is like King-of-the-Hill, Gang Wars which consists of two teams, one defending locations and the other trying to destroy said locations, as well as larger deathmatch and team deathmatch (up to 16 players) that are unlocked by completing multiplayer grind challenges. While playing I ran into a few instances where Max would get caught up on walls and what not as well as sinking into the ground which was weird, it did take me out of the game a bit even though it didn’t alter gameplay too much. Also, the soundtrack that HEALTH provided fits the game like a glove, I can’t imagine the game with a different score.
Rockstar exceeded my standards on what a third installment should look like and while there is a lot of value here, weird graphical issues have kept it from being a perfect game. Max Payne 3 is a great game that everyone should play especially fans of the series or genre and is sure to bring plenty of enjoyment. Those on a budget that demand a lot of bang for their buck should take note because Max Payne 3 delivers.
Played On: Xbox 360*
Developer: Rockstar Studios
Publisher: Rockstar Games
Release Date: 5/15/12
*Review copy provided by Rockstar