honestly don't beat a whole lot of games. I've had many $60 dollar purchases sit and collect dust on my shelf and virtual dust in my steam library. I get disenfranchised rather quickly with a lot of games. Even the holy grail games like Skyrim and Uncharted 3 went unfinished last year. It really takes something special to prompt me to follow a game through to the final cutscene. So far this year I have only completed two games. Diablo III and now...Max Payne 3.
Max Payne was the one game that showed off the sheer power of my Gateway Performance 800 back in 2000. My TNT2 was pushed to the max, no pun intended. I played the shit out of that game and completed it on 3 different difficulties. Max Payne 2 was more of the same and the style of those games that I came to expect was instantly classic to me and pushed the series to one of my all time favorites. When I first saw Max Payne 3 a little over a year ago I was extremely skeptical. Remedy had already moved on to Alan Wake and I with them, Rockstar did a fine job with the last GTA and RDR but what business did the dev team really have in taking on Max Payne. The first trailer I saw of the game didn't make me feel any better. It looked like Kane and Lynch, a far departure from the original games macabre or the sequels film noire elegance. It looked like every other blockbuster hollywood action movie and whats this I hear...they are adding cover?!? I was just like fuck off with the cover based GOW bullshit that is not Max fucking Payne. Boy did I jump the gun (call it a premature shoot-dodge)
The password is John Woo
Max Payne 3 opens up on a very disgruntled and desperate protagonist. Never has a more accurate and disturbing portrayal of alcoholism been captured in pixel. Max has a new gig now and the job takes him out of the streets of Jersey and into the beautiful/decrepit world of Sao Paulo. Without spoiling anything you are basically a gun for hire and that is the premise. The first thing I need to comment on is this story. It really does the MP series justice. It takes more cues from directors like Tarantino than it does John Woo, but they do it well enough that the change is actually welcomed. I saw shit in this game that really bothered me too. It is surprising because I am one of the most graphically numbed people I have ever known lol. By the end of the story I was very satisfied and though I prefer the story from RDR more, Rockstar did a fantastic job rearming Mr. Payne.
We all know that the gameplay is what keeps people going though right?
How many times are you gonna let me die asshole?!?
I died...a lot. It took two hours of my life to finish one particularly challenging scene on a dock. It really was a classic throwback to the good ole days of falling on your ass and reloading the most recent save...a lot. Oh and that cover based mechanic I was disgusted by? Yeah it is almost certainly needed in most scenes in this game. Without it the relentless shelling of bullets will gun you down more than double you already are. Getting painkillers becomes an obsession, almost like an addiction. Just like in the past games really and again an oldschool not used often enough mechanic that really pushes safety to the top of the list on your playthrough. One shot from any gun in the game can instantly take off half of your life, or more. The cool thing though is the same works both ways. Headshots are now instant kills for unarmed men (men without helmets). There is nothing more spectacular than placing a perfect shoot dodge, taking out three enemies, hitting the ground and while still on the ground take out the legs of a guy underneath a car and as his body hits the ground landing that final headshot blow in all of slow motions glory. Thats something I wasn't expecting in my playthrough of the game. When you shoot dodge now your body stays where it lands until you move. So if you were to shoot dodge and land under a table for instance you now have some cover from the table or wherever you land really and that is pretty awesome. It also works against you in tight areas though, which the game has many. If you shoot dodge in a hallway for instance upon hitting whichever wall you choose you will hit the wall and fall to the ground losing precious milliseconds where a lot of the time the enemy you were "dodging" will take you out before you get gun back in hand. This is an example of moving a classic mechanic forward.
Talking about game mechanics the bullet time system hasn't changed a bit from the original game and I for one love that. In Max Payne 2 they added the effect of Max himself moving faster throughout the bullet time sequence as you killed more. I didn't like the way that system worked back then and I am happy to see the same simple, get kills outside of bullet time= bullet time fills up and then unleashing bullet time feels earned and gratifying in that simple kind of way. Of all the various weapons that you get in the game nothing really beats the different combat rifles to me. The old dual barettas didn't feel as precise as they have in past games. The impact of all weapons are better than ever though. When you get a headshot the gruesome way the skin opens up and the pure power of a bullet tearing through flesh is both seen and heard. The physics are also a marvel in this game. Ragdoll physics have come a long way since the days of MP2. Bodies realistically slump over tables they are shot on or tumble down the steps at a very particular soccer stadium (Futbol, Football whatever the hell you want to call it). The graphics coupled with the physics in this game do an amazing job at captivating the player from the very beginning and don't get in the way of the story, only work to enhance the narrative and provide a very appealing look and feel for the game.
All the voice acting in the game is also very well done. Rockstar has a thing about presentation and the sound department has done a fine job in capturing the realistic feel they were aiming for. All voice actors did a fine job, James McCaffery reprising his role of Max Payne though takes the cake. It is a different tone sure but it still is good ole Max. He still has a great deal of one liners and in this game takes on a very John McClane like, American Cowboy attitude. In game that has a lot of cutscenes it is very important to hit the nail on the head when it comes to dialog and they really did a fine job. The soundtrack and musical pacing is also a standout. One of the greatest scenes from RDR was the ride to Mexico. Jose Gonzalez's Far Away came on and all of a sudden you weren't just playing a game you were experiencing a new level of audio presentation. I'm not gonna spoil it but there is a very similar scene in MP3 that really boosted my adrenaline. If I didn't finish that scene without dying I was going to have a heart attack. Funny enough I actually survived it and it was totally fulfilling.
So after about 10 hours I beat Max Payne 3. It only took me two days, I was hooked. From start to finish I was extremely impressed at the Job Rockstar Studios did with the Max Payne license. Every fear and pre-judgement I had for this game were ultimately completely unnecessary. The game is a solid 3rd person shooter that will stand the test of time for me at least. The multiplayer is not my thing and I am not going to bother scoring that. On my scale the game scores a solid 9 out of 10 and If Rockstar decides to continue with the franchise in the future, I will most definitely be slapping down $60 bucks again.