"There are two kinds of people: ones that are trying to build their future and ones that are trying to rebuild their past."
Max Payne 3 is set 9 years after the events of Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne. We find Max in Sao Paulo, Brazil, addicted to painkillers and alcohol while still trying to forget his hunting past. He is working as private security for the Branco family, until he gets caught up in a war for power and money. This story is told through beautifully directed cutscenes and monologues performed brilliantly by Maxís voice actor James McCaffrey, all wrapped up in a crime noir sheen perfectly crafted by Rockstar games.
Max Payne 3 is a breath of fresh air in the current landscape of video games, with more and more games focusing on multiplayer and generic space marines blowing up targets dictated by a radio itís nice to play as a character worth investing time into. Max is the perfect portrait of a broken man, a bald angry man fuelled by painkillers and alcohol tortured by the loss of his wife and daughter.
The gameplay in Max Payne 3 is crafted to an extremely high standard; it is refined to near perfection making it the pinnacle of its genre. A 3rd person shooter is becoming somewhat of a rare breed in games, except the Xbox exclusive Gears of War franchise the movement to 1st person is almost unanimous. Max Payne 3 is primarily cover based shooter which features you popping in and out of cover taking shots at available targets. When that doesnít work you have to switch to Maxís Bullet Time, Bullet Time allows you to slow down time and dive through the air, or simply run towards enemies in slow motion. Bullet Time is stored in a metre making it a useful precious resource that mixes up gunfights.
Max Payne 3ís Graphics and textures are some of the best I have seen and stand to prove the current generation of consoles are not done yet. The environments that you will be shooting up are all beautifully design and vary, featuring a football stadium, a brothel located in a slum, a police station, and personal favourite a night club. Each location feels unique and special. However this can feel like a double edged sword as all of the environments are corridors there is no open environments, while there is slight branching paths to discover collectables, health and ammo there is no exploration here. The character models are at some points disturbingly real, and the lip syncing is spot on, even during gameplay. Maxís clothes change from level to level so itís nice to not always be looking at the same exact model every mission (he even changes his hair).
Another big aspect of the game is its Soundtrack. With this been such a story driven experience with huge claims to its cinematic qualities, the importance of its soundtrack cannot be understated. American noise rock band HEALTH composed the soundtrack for the game and a wonderful job they have done with it. The music ranges from emotionally crippling melodies that accompany Maxís self hating monologues, the rampant club music for huge scale shootouts. The main theme to the game TEARS which features in the trailer plays close to the end of the game in a genuinely special moment, that sadly I cannot talk about without releasing spoilers. The soundtrack is worth listening to on its own merits.
The multiplayer for the game while some may consider an afterthought is actually shockingly deep for this kind of game. Gameplay remains primally the same; the item in question for multiplayer is obviously the Bullet Time. Bullet time in multiplayer slows you down, slows down anyone you can see, anyone who can see you, and anyone who those affected people can see or be seen by. Read that line again if you didn't get it. Or just think of it this way: there's no such thing as a player who is in bullet time being seen by a player who isn't in bullet time, or vice versa. If you can see someone in bullet time, you're in bullet time. Same if they can see you. You're only unaffected if you're out of sight. The Online features several different modes to try your hand at Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Capture the flag etc. sadly there is no unique online match mode type, it is only the Bullet time that makes the online special. Another aspect of the online that is interesting is ĎíGangsíí, Gangs are made up by you and your friends who create an online profile of you gang with tags name and even a catchphrase. You can then enter gang vs gang matches and the game will track your stats against other gangs, while not entirely unique its still next to see this kind of online component used. But is Bullet Time enough to make Max Payne 3 a truly competitive online experience? Personally I think yes, but in the long run only time will tell.
Max Payne 3 is a game you need to play. If you enjoy a great story, buy it. If you enjoy great shooting, buy it. If you enjoy fun and addictive multiplayer, buy it. Even if you just want to go through hell as the ultimate badass, buy it. Max Payne 3 is a beautiful game in every single sense of the word. It is a game everybody should experience, its story is self contained so you donít even need to play the previous two games in the franchise to enjoy this one. You have no excuse not to play this game, you owe it to yourself.
Review by Jarrod Beauchamp & Ellis Atkinson
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