Max Payne 3 Review
Extra Features: Online Multiplayer (2-16 players), Leaderboards, Download Content
It's been eight years since Remedy Entertainment's last installment in the Max Payne franchise. Max Payne 1 and 2 told the tale of a young NYPD detective (Max Payne) that constantly managed to get others caught up in his own depressing downward spiral of unfortunate events that transpires after the death of his family. Max Payne 3, developed by Rockstar Games, continues the story of Max's life.
Max Payne 3 focuses on Max's life eight years after the events of the first two game events in New York City. Max is now a bodyguard for the Branco family, headed by Rodrigo Bronco, in Sao Paulo, Brazil. We are introduced to a new Max that uses his new position along with painkillers and alcohol in an attempt to escape from the bad memories of his troubled past. During a party, a street gang kidnaps Rodrigo Branco's wife and Max is once again pulled into another dark conspiracy that awakens his inner demons and threatens the life of those around him.
Max Payne 3 is a third person shooter in which the player once again assumes the role of the Max Payne. Max Payne is now surrounded by a completely new cast of characters since moving on with his life in Brazil. He has a new partner, by the name of Raul Passos, that serves under the Branco family along with Max. Max Payne 3 features the same over-the-shoulder shooter gameplay along with a cover system. Players can take cover behind walls and other objects while attempting to shoot enemies.
The game still has a melee takedown technique for disarming close range enemies when a player is low on ammo or just simply for killing close range enemies but the game still focuses on shooting and dodging for the most part. Bullet time once again makes its return and it looks fantastic! Bullet time can be activated normally or during a jumping dodge. The moment bullet time is activated, all enemies move in slow motion along with on-screen bullets. After each bullet time dodge, Max now remains prone on the ground and a player can aim in any direction in a 360 range and continue to shoot. When Max dives in bullet time, he lands according to his surroundings. He can actually hit his body on nearby objects and gets his dodge cancelled before completion.
At the cost of one painkiller, Max now has a sort of "revival shot" technique where the on-screen action will slow down as Max is shot for the final time and the player will be given a chance to aim Max's current weapon and make one final shot at the attacker during the slow motion sequence while Max falls. If a player is successful in hitting the target, the bullet will kill that enemy in a flashy slow motion cutscene and Max will be revived by the painkiller. Once Max shoots a final enemy in each wave of enemies in an area, the action will slow down to show the bullet piercing through the enemy's body. The speed of the bullet can be slowed down even more with the use of controller commands and extra shots can be added.
As usual, Max has access to several different types of weapons per stage. Most weapons are picked up from enemies. He can hold two one-handed weapons and one two-handed weapons. The two one-handed weapons can be dual wielded when not having a two-handed weapon in Max's inventory. If a two-handed weapon is in the inventory, Max must actually hold that weapon in one hand while holding one of his one-handed weapons. A two-handed weapon must be dropped in order to dual wield. Sometimes I did have problems of selecting a weapon quickly during battle at times through the game's inventory menu. You have to hold LB and then select a weapon with the right thumbstick in order to equip it.
Besides the constant run and gun, the game has several heavy action sequences that use bullet time or quickly set up a shooting event for a player - these sequences truly bring the action to life and make it very memorable. There are a few vehicles rides where a player must shoot enemies and there are some quick bullet time sequences where a player must shoot very quickly in order to survive. Some cutscenes have moments of quick button tapping (QTEs) as the action plays out, but these are very few in number.
Max Payne 3 has a single player story mode and an arcade mode. The story mode is made up of several chapters that allow a player to progress through the main story of the game. It has four difficulties. The arcade mode has a Score Attack and a New York Minute mode. Score attack allows a player to play each story mode stage in an attempt to gain a high score for the leaderboard. Points are awarded based on where the enemy is shot (headshots are worth more) and there is also a score multiplier for killing several enemies in a row. In New York Minute, a player is challenged to complete each stage within a minute. A player is given extra time per enemy kill. Multiple outfits can be used throughout the arcade mode - it even has the Max Payne classic models!
Max Payne 3 has several multiplayer modes as well. The game includes Deathmatches, Team Deathmatches, Payne Killer and Gang Wars. The Deathmatches are your standard deathmatch-type modes where players are free to run throughout a map and kill each other to boost their point or team point total. There are a variety of maps taken from the main story and redesigned for multiplayer. Deathmatch can be played in a training deathmatch mode (for beginners), a normal deathmatch mode (8 players) or a large deathmatch mode (16 players). All multiplayer modes have a normal and large variety (Payne Killer and Gang War included).
Payne Killer allows one player to play as Max Payne and another player to play as Raul Passos. A team of gangsters is chosen to fight against the Max Payne player and the Raul Passos player. Both Max and Raul must work together to gain points through killing the gangster players. If a gangster player manages to kill Max or Raul, that player will get to become Max or Raul until the player is killed. The game constantly switches up who is playing Max and Raul based on how well the two main character players can survive against the gangster team.
Gang Wars is the overall best multiplayer mode for those that like overall variety. This mode is a type of story-based team mode where players kill the opposing team's players under certain conditions. This mode has several smaller modes of play that will change depending on the outcome of the prior round. The mode types for Gang Wars are as follows:
Warfare - battle to the death
Showdown - battle to the death with strengths dependent on the previous rounds
Survivor - battle to the death with limited lives
Last Stand - battle to the death with each player having one life
Takedown - take down a certain target
Short Fuse - one gang must arm a bomb, while the other tries to protect the bomb site
Delivery - collect and deliver team items to a drop-off point
Grab - teams fight over two bags that need to be deliver to a certain point
Turf Grab - battle for an important piece of turf
Total Turf - fight to gain control multiple territories
Siege - one gang must hold on to 3 territories, one after the other
Passage - one team flees while the other team attacks
After a player kills your character, you have the option to have a vendetta against that player. Once a vendetta is enacted, you or the player that the vendetta is against will get bonus experience points (XP) for the first one to kill each other. The game's multiplayer allows a player to join a private or public crew in order to gain extra XP for leveling while playing online. Through Social Club integration, a player can continue to play on the same crew in Max Payne 3 and continue in Grand Theft Auto V.
Max Payne 3's story is more action-packed than the previous installments. This game is basically about Max trying to forget the past and move on with his life. At times, the story will focus on Max's past and how it relates to the events that happen at the current time period. There are a few flashback sequences sprinkled throughout the game's main story that help to add to Max's situation by providing some backstory that relates to it. Max goes through a change in appearance constantly through the game - he will have a new outfit and appearance in just about every chapter. This is a very welcome addition and keeps the flow of the game feeling fresh from chapter to chapter.
James McCaffrey once again reprises the role of Max Payne. The story is still told through Max Payne's narration. We get to constantly hear Max Payne's thoughts about the current situation at hand like in past installments. Cutscenes are all in real time this time, however, they are often split up into individual frames and have several phrases that are highlighted in big text as characters speak. This gives the game more of a comic book style of storytelling that is similar to the comic book format of the first two games in the series.
Max still has several metaphorical phrases that he will mention throughout the game to comment on the current situation. Though the metaphors are in great number, they seem overall weaker and less memorable than in previous games. There are many times where the actor is trying to get a player to laugh. There is also a sense of passion felt in the first two games that is lost with Max Payne 3's new focus on action. The game has moments where I truly felt for Max, but they are less in number this time.
The graphics of Max Payne look absolutely beautiful. Environments are filled with tons of detail. Every environment has loads of extra environmental objects and scenery to view. The Brazil levels are some of the best in terms of overall level design. The areas are highly detailed and have some very realistic lighting effects. I truly got the feel of the Brazil area with the appearance of the stages. Characters are constantly changing with different outfits and cuts and bruises on their skins from past events. As already mentioned, Max constantly has a new outfit on. Even the fabric of Max's clothing on the back of his shirts look realistic with their wrinkles as Max moves.
The Portuguese language is constantly used throughout the game. Enemies shout out phrases in Portuguese and many characters speak the language in a few sequences. All of the voice acting in the game is perfect. The voice actors all match their roles quite well. The game also features a big soundtrack with a variety of tunes that range from the usual moody music to Brazilian music and other upbeat tunes. Most of it truly got me in the mood to play each stage. The usual Max Payne theme plays on the title menu as well.
The overall control scheme is fluid and easy to work with. The controls can be customized by changing the targeting reticule, overall control scheme and adjustments can be made to the camera control speed. There is a hard lock-on, a soft lock-on and a free aim targeting system now. The hard lock-on automatically locks on to a nearby target the aiming button is held. The soft lock-on will lock on to a target if the cursor is near that target - it's basically like a semi auto target. The free aim is the usual aiming without any sort of help. Soft lock-on can be used in multiplayer mode, but soft lock-on modes and free-aim modes are separate, so it's either one or the other and all players have access to that aiming style during that game.
If you are a fan of Max Payne, this game must be played. The gameplay is very fun and it's easily the most cinematic Max Payne game yet. The story clocks in at about 10-12 hours of gameplay and the game has several unlockables. There are many reasons to go back and play the single player mode and the game offers many extra multiplayer modes as well. It's truly a crime to miss out on this one if you've followed the series up until now. Max Payne 3 is just as pleasing as the other games overall and has the best gameplay out of the series so far!
+ Addicting shooter gameplay with a bunch of action
+ Engaging story and cutscenes
+ Flashy bullet time effects
+ Packed with content (Many single player modes, multiplayer, unlockables)
- Dialogue seems weaker than other Max Payne games
Final Rating: 90%. Stumped on buying Max Payne 3? Much like a painkiller, this review will help to ease the pain.