Max Payne 3 is a third-person shooter in which the player is dropped into a life of painkillers and Kong Whiskey. This series has become deep, sad, and revengeful in its story telling. It’s been 12 years from the murder of Max’s family and the death of Mona Sax. Max is in the city of São Paulo, Brazil, where he is working private security for a wealthy real estate mogul Rodrigo Branco and his family. Raul Passos the man that introduces you to te Branco family is your partner and friend from the academy. Your main mission is to protect Rodigo and his family but a group of thugs are always trying to kidnap and kill them.
Max Payne 3 was designed using the Rage engine, used in Grand Theft Auto 4 and Red Dead Redemption. There are over 4000 animations that give Max and enemies fluid movement and weight in the game. This huge number of animations also allows you to kill the bad guys in much more varied ways then the prior two games. Taking out arms will cause them to drop guns, taking out knees will cause them to tumble and crawl around still firing at you, or you can just go for the headshot and be done with them, but I can’t lie I spent a bunch of time taking out their limbs to see their reactions.Graphics are as crisp and clear as you expect from a Rockstar game. Movement and voice animation are life-like and it really feels like your watching a movie as a cut scene blends in after a massive gun fight that had just taking place. To further the cinematic look there are a number of different camera filters used to accent the on-screen drama. The cut-scenes had a similar feel to the Jason Statham movie Crank. Lot’s of blurs, lines, multi-shot boxes and pop-in text to accent keywords. These effects worked most of the times a few times through-out it would have been nice to see them toned down.
Bullet time has been the core mechanic in this series and it continues to be absolutely vital to stay alive. Painkillers help a bit, but useless in harder difficulty settings. When you’re about to die and have a painkiller in your inventory and the AI lets off a fatal shot, you than are able to revive yourself with a kill shot on that enemy. The game enters bullet time so you than can slow down the shot as it enters the thugs chest or head with blood spraying out the wound. There is also “environmental bullet time” where the game speed will be slowed down during certain scripted events for the player to quickly react and earn achievements such as killing everyone while sliding down a waterfall, and was one of the best things they added to Max Payne 3. There is also quick-time events where you need to press certain buttons to make a fast move to save your life.
In the first two games Bullet Time was mostly a unique way to play the game. In Max Payne 3 not only is Bullet Time key for getting Max out of certain situation but it’s also a way to really showcase the games brutality and amazing graphics. Seeing all the other bullets slowed down around you and the numerous particles from the environment flying around in slo-mo is just awesome. But the Bullet Cam which is saved for the final kill of the wave is pure violence. Not only can you slow down the final bullet by holding A, but you can keep pumping extra lead into the bad guy seeing his body react to each bullet, is just badass!
There’s a good amount of guns Max can use, sub-machine pistols, shotguns, automatic rifles, rocket launchers, et cetera. You are given a lot of options for wielding, you can duel wield pistols, sub-machines guns, or keep both guns in your holsters and carry an AK47, or even carry the AK47 in one hand and shoot the pistol with the other, the choice is up to you and creates some awesome combinations.
The best part of this game is going back to New Jersey with the snow fall from previous games. It explains how Max was dealing with his life, mixing drugs and alcohol. From hearing the Jersey accent and the old black leather jacket Max had worn from the good old days with the theme song, brought back great old memory’s. From there with out giving spoilers you will learn why he went to Brazil and how he came into his new job as private security.
The only thing wrong with the campaign, is it gets a little repetitive going from one area to the next with a large number of people doing their best to gun you down, don’t get me wrong it’s a solid story and fun gameplay, I just thought it would be different in the execution of constant enemy’s entering the screen and you picking them off. There are a few scripted instances that change up the pattern of moving form cover to cover and shooting guys. Early on you find yourself on a helicopter with a high powered rifle clearing the way for Branco’s sister in-law.
Multiplayer is a new addition to the Max Payne series and Rockstar Games has done an amazing job adapting the gameplay and feel of Max Payne to online multiplayer. Multiplayer is quite vast and offers a lot for everyone. Like many popular multiplayer titles these days your overall goal is to earn XP and cash. As you gain XP you increase your rank, and as you increase your rank you unlock more parts of the multiplayer game. Such as additional load-outs, and more game types, outfits and weapons. With the cash you can purchase new items, such as the various higher level weapons. There are a lot of weapons at your disposal though cash is a bit tough to come by so make sure you spend wisely, at least as you progress. I’m sure towards the higher ranks you’ll have enough cash to do what you want.
Obviously some of the game’s mechanics have bene tweaked to work with multiplayer. Firstly Bullet Time is one of many special abilities called Burst. When a player is in Bullet Time it causes the enemies within their line of sight to slow down. You can breakout of Bullet Time by breaking line of sight by taking cover. The way you earn Bursts is by collecting Adrenaline. You can collect Adrenaline in a couple of ways, from killing people to collecting it off dead bodies. Bursts have 3 levels each level has a more devastating ability. For instance the Bullet TIme Burst at level 1 it sharpens your reflexes for 2.5 seconds, at level 2 for 4 seconds and at level 3 for 6 seconds.
As far as multiplayer game modes go you have the normal Deathmatch types, plus Payne Killer and Gang Wars. Payne Killer is a King of the Hill style match where Max and Passos are fighting to stay alive. The game starts as a Deathmatch and the first player to make a kill becomes Max and the first victim Passos. At this point the rest of the players are on the same team and trying to injure or kill Max and Passos. Once either Max or Passos are killed, a replacement is picked from the whole room. This choice is made from a combination of who is doing the best in the match. It might sound like the two good guys might have a rough time but they are both outfitted with special weapons and abilities to give them a better fighting chance.
Gang Wars is the other specialized multiplayer game type. It is a mission based mode where each team has an objective, such as capturing checkpoints, planting bombs or killing a mark enemy. Each match consists of 4 rounds and a showdown. Gang Wars is a really fun match, and the objectives shake-up the constant killing of the rest of the game. Though I did find just jumping in solo was sometimes rough as the team was very disorganized. It really is a mode built for crews.
Max Payne has come a long way over the years. Max Payne 3 is a great experience that combines a solid story with innovative gameplay and action. The visuals of Max Payne 3 will blow away any fan of the series. Gun battles look like something ripped right out of a Hollywood blockbuster. Bullets and debris will be swirling around you as you make slo-mo leaps. And once you finish the latest chapter in Max Payne’s story you can hop into the great competitive multiplayer action. Beyond the normal run and gun deathmatches, Gang Wars and Payne Killer modes are a lot of fun and really capture the feel of the series gameplay. Max Payne 3 is a worthy addition to anyone’s game library and a must for those who have experienced the trials and tribulations of Max Payne over the last 10 years.
A copy of Max Payne 3 for Xbox 360 was provided to us for this review from Rockstar Games
Parts of this review were contributed by Jay Rivera