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Max Payne

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The DTOID Show: Tomb Raider delayed, Dark, & Civilization


May 14
// Max Scoville
Hello everyone! I hope you had a marvelous weekend! Here's today's episode of The Destructoid Show! The big news today (aside from Diablo III) is Max Payne 3. Conrad's review is up, and the game sounds rad. Some folks f...

Review: Max Payne 3

May 14 // Conrad Zimmerman
Max Payne 3 (PC, PS3, Xbox 360 [reviewed])Developer: Rockstar VancouverPublisher:  Rockstar GamesReleased: May 15, 2012MSRP: $59.99  The story mode takes Max from the mean streets of New Jersey to the equally mean streets of São Paulo, Brazil. Keeping with tradition, the entire plot is experienced in flashback, narrated throughout by Max as he reflects upon the recent state of his life. Beyond that, events are frequently presented out of their chronological order so that the settings constantly shift and blur together, keeping the player constantly guessing where they'll wind up next. By this point in his life, Max has effectively hit rock bottom and has been spending all of his time searching for meaning in a bottle. That pursuit doesn't stop just because he's hired by a wealthy Brazilian family to work as a bodyguard, with the promise of good pay for babysitting socialites. But the job doesn't turn out to be the cakewalk it was supposed to be, and a drunk Max fails to protect the family when a local street gang targets them, leading to a series of events which will leave hundreds dead in the wake of his efforts to redeem himself. Throughout the series, Max has always been the unfortunate victim of circumstance. He's the guy who's in the wrong place at the wrong time, either through no real fault of his own or due to the concerted efforts of others surrounding him. In some ways, you can make the same argument about Max Payne 3, but it doesn't really hold up to scrutiny. Yes, there are secrets to be learned and villains to be punished, and Max is still the guy who gets stuck in the middle of a bad situation. Unlike prior games, though, Max has to bear far more responsibility for his role in the course of events. Throughout the story, it becomes clear that most of the situation could have been avoided had Max chosen a better way to deal with his problems than becoming a drunk. While it may make him a less sympathetic character, the story is considerably better for the change as it provides an opportunity for Max to be more than just the man standing between evil and its goals and experience genuine character growth. The tale may be dark, but the presentation is flashy as hell. Max Payne 3 transitions almost seamlessly from cutscenes to gameplay sequences and back, rarely giving the player an opportunity to have the time to think about doing anything but playing further and driving the story forward. The non-interactive sequences give the impression that they fold in and out organically, but serve another function as cover for the game's lengthy loading sequences. One has to wonder if some of the rather lengthy story sequences are of the length they are simply to cover up the fact that the player is playing a game, particularly upon discovering that many of the longer scenes cannot be skipped until they're almost completed. Nevertheless, they are entertaining and effectively maintain immersion by never disconnecting the player from the narrative. There's a lot of visual style imparted on these sequences. During cutscenes, bits of phrases in Max's narration will pop up on the screen to provide emphasis, and Max Payne 3 makes heavy use of a blurring effect aimed at giving the game a modern, cinematic tone and connecting the player with the sense of disorientation Max feels. While the bits of text are used to great effect throughout, the blur wears out its welcome over time and feels a bit tedious eventually, but it appears so often that it eventually becomes easy to ignore through repetition. What cannot be ignored is Max's narration. When he's not shooting other people in their heads, he's inside his own, and Max has gobs of dialog throughout the game. He is constantly contributing wry observations about whatever crosses into view, and with fantastic variety. Every time Max picks up health-restoring painkillers, he has something to say about them. If the player tarries too long in a room, Max will pipe up to remind them what the next objective is. His voice is a constant companion throughout the entire affair and expertly performed by returning actor James McCaffrey (who also provides motion capture for the role). Better still, the writing of Max has been elevated. Gone are the overwrought metaphors in Sam Lake's version of the character; Max doesn't once try to compare telephone lines to a human circulatory system or any such pretentious crap. He's still clever and just as full of pathos as ever, but without giving the impression that his words are forced or disingenuous. He's such a joy to listen to that players will likely be scouring environments in search of more pearls of wisdom, and those who do will be amply rewarded for their diligence. Controlling Max is also more satisfying than ever before. Max Payne has always been a series where cover played an important role, but Max Payne 3 is the first game to feature an actual mechanic for employing it, allowing the player to hide behind objects, lean out, and blind-fire. The cover mechanic does not provide a means of easily moving from one object to another, however, leaving the player to either rely on a rather slow, rolling dodge, or to take advantage of "bullet time" (earned by being shot at, killing enemies, and more) to slow the action and minimize the damage. Max isn't a space marine, after all. He may be tough as nails, but it doesn't require much more than a few bullets to take him down, and there are a lot of bullets in his general vicinity pretty much all of the time. But death need not be the end with the introduction of a "last stand" mechanic, activated when Max runs out of health but still has unused painkillers. When in the last stand, bullet time is activated and the player has a few seconds to eliminate the specific enemy responsible for the killing blow. If successful, Max will survive in a prone position with a majority of health restored, at the cost of a painkiller and all stored bullet time. These new mechanics go a long way toward deepening the gameplay experience, but Rockstar also has an eye for broadening appeal. Max Payne 3 offers a variety of options that gear it toward players of a wide skill range, most significantly by providing aim assistance in the series for the first time in two different forms. When in "Soft Lock" mode, aiming Max's gun causes the targeting reticule to move to the center of mass of the closest enemy. The still easier "Hard Lock" works similarly, with the exception that the reticule will stay with a targeted enemy and try to maintain its relative position on their body even if they move. Aim assistance is optional; it's set at the beginning of the game and can be switched from the pause menu at any time. Players new to Max Payne or less skilled at third-person action games will likely appreciate the advent of aim assistance, but it's not perfect. Sometimes the game will make questionable choices about which enemy should be targeted, and there's no means of manually switching between targets when the necessity arises, leaving the player no choice but to freely aim. The system works well overall to make a challenging game much easier to manage, up to a point. That challenge level gets rather considerable late in the campaign. The last third of the game is filled with enemies who are wearing full combat armor, seem capable of taking more rounds than Max, and are best dispatched with a quick headshot. Of course, they are also wearing helmets that will simply fly off their heads when hit, leaving the player to have to shoot them in the head again. Since aim assistance moves the target to the center of enemies, it can go from a crutch to a hindrance when Max is up against these more difficult foes. Players are able to revisit completed stages in two Arcade modes. First is Score Attack, in which points are tallied for killing enemies and score multipliers awarded for doing so stylishly and effectively. Bonuses are earned for accuracy, the use of bullet time, and a variety of other opportunities which will allow a skilled player to rack up high scores. In addition, the New York Minute mode introduced in Max Payne 2, in which players are given one minute to complete the entirety of the game and awarded more time for killing enemies, also returns; players can race against the clock in each of Max Payne 3's 14 chapters. And then there's multiplayer content, as well. Players will be able to choose between playlists designed for "Soft Lock" and "Free Aim" targeting, and play in three different types of competitive multiplayer. The standard Deathmatch appears, offered in solo and team flavors. "Payne Killer" is a game in which one player assumes the role of Max (well-populated games allow a second player to become his partner, Passos) who becomes the target for the other players and must try to survive as long as possible to earn points. Finally, "Gang Wars" consists of a dynamically selected series of objective-based scenarios linked together, where two gangs compete to claim dominance. It's a robust offering, complete with experience progression, tons of customization options, and a host of social features. Players earn experience and cash, which is then used to unlock new weapons. Balance between player loadouts is achieved with an encumbrance mechanic that compensates for a heavily armed player by making him slower in movement and healing. And since this is Max Payne, the multiplayer would be remiss if it did not include the bullet time system in some regard, though it does function a little differently. When activated, bullet time only affects those players who are within the line of sight of whoever activates the ability. It's also a bit of a double-edged sword to employ, as human players have a far easier time putting a little dot on the head of a slow-moving character and a player in bullet time might find themselves overwhelmed if there are more than a couple of opponents aiming at them. Rockstar has also expanded this concept beyond just bullet time to create a range of abilities called "bursts" relating to the meter in multiplayer, now referred to as "adrenaline." Whatever you call it, adrenaline is earned the same way as in the solo campaign, but players can accumulate more by looting the corpses of other players. Bursts come in a delightful variety of forms more interesting than a basic damage buff. In addition to standard bullet time, bursts also can allow you to pinpoint the locations of your enemies or even confuse an opposing team by making all teammates appear to be opponents. It's damn good fun, creating an environment of chaos and thrilling combat. The new Rockstar Social Club features allow players to team up easily in Crews, pairing them up with players on teams who are members of the same Crew, and it makes it easy to get into a game with people you might actually want to play with. Crew members will engage in the game on a whole new level, becoming embroiled in bitter feuds through a mechanic which adds another objective layer to playing online by giving players specific enemies to target based on their associations and prior conflicts between Crews. Max Payne 3 is a fantastic package, with a top-notch presentation and plenty of content to keep players busy and happy. It may have been a long time in coming, but there's no arguing with results, and Max is the kind of guy who gets them. Fans and newcomers alike are going to find plenty to enjoy in this exceptional title.
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Nearly a decade has passed since Max Payne last brought his brand of violent street justice to a dark and unjust world, and videogames have changed dramatically in this time. And Max has changed with it, under the new directi...

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Enjoy some pew pew with the fan film Max Payne: Valhalla


May 12
// Tony Ponce
Over the last few months, I had been receiving tips on an upcoming fan-made Max Payne short entitled "Valhalla," but I avoided posting the trailer, instead waiting until the full production was complete. The film was finally...
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The DTOID Show: Hitman, Republique, & Max Payne 3


May 11
// Max Scoville
Hey guys, here we are again with another Destructoid Show. We were live today, but if ya missed it, here's the recorded version. I already typed this up once today but it got deleted and now I'm rushing to get the post done ...

Getting It Right: Max Payne

May 10 // Allistair Pinsof
Max PayneDeveloper: Remedy EntertainmentPublisher: Rockstar Games, Gathering (PC)Released: July 23, 2001In a nutshell: With only a PC arcade-style racing game behind them, Death Rally, Remedy spent half a decade developing Max Payne: An ambitious shooter set in NYC that told a contemporary noir story through comic book panels, cutscenes, and action. It stood out in 2001 for its photo-realistic graphics, cinematic presentation, and slow-mo mechanic. Spotlighting the player’s actionsI often find myself slowly panning the camera like a E3 demo guide when I play a Call of Duty game -- going against the game’s player direction in order to give myself a more cinematic experience. But, when I play Max Payne I feel like the ideal performance leads directly to the ideal visual feast. This is a rarity in videogames, but I’m not sure why it should be. Game developers must always perform a balancing act in giving players space to perform while also giving them rewards for their performance. The key to Max Payne’s success is its ability to highlight player action in a flashy way without taking away their influence or ruining the flow of action. Max Payne was revolutionary in combining these two aspects into a seamless experience. Where other games might put you in a fight and then present a cinematic of the events following it, Max Payne’s visual flair in battles came directly from the player’s actions -- letting a well-aimed bullet and bold dodge trigger brief cinematic moments.Metal Gear Solid made me feel like I was watching an awesome action flick, but it wasn’t until I played Max Payne that I felt I was in one. By framing the player’s actions with panning camera angles, dramatic zooms, and mesmerizing slow motion, Max Payne put the spotlight on the player’s actions in a way never attempted before.Developers shouldn’t be inspired by the mechanic of player activated slow-motion. Instead, they should focus on the effect framing a player's actions can have on combat. God of War and Uncharted achieve the same impact by presenting wide cinematic angles during platforming segments. Ninja Gaiden 2 applied this by highlighting deathblows in spectacular fashion, while Deus Ex: Human Revolution added spectacular visual animations to certain abilities when successfully performed. Even Resonance of Fate, a Japanese RPG of all things, managed to make a rote battle into a John Woo fever dream where characters endlessly jumped and fired guns when given the order. In years since Max Payne's debut, God of War, Fallout 3, and other games have done this in their own way to great effect. It’s easy to look at bullet time as a gimmick or a novel feature. In truth, it changes everything: the tone, the pace, and the spectacle of combat. There is nothing else like it. Even though others games replicated this feature, as in the F.E.A.R. series and Stranglehold, it never felt quite as special as it did in Max Payne. Versatile arsenalA good selection of weapons in a game is defined by its strengths as much as it is defined by its shortcomings. On the surface, Max Payne has the most generic set of weapons a videogame could possibly offer. As it should -- after all, the story is based in New York City, circa 2001. While sci-fi and arena shooters may have more imaginative weapons, few games strike the near perfect balance of Max’s arsenal. Due to careful calibration on the developer’s part, each weapon has its ideal time and place. Even during the game’s final hours, I found myself reaching to weapons obtained hours earlier out of strategic necessity. Sure, the Striker may have terrible spread (in the first Max Payne, at least) -- and you can cheat the reload of every weapon by quickly swapping them in-and-out -- but otherwise the entire weapon selection is pretty much flawless. In one instance, you may assume a door in front of you leads to a narrow hallway, so you equip dual Ingram uzis to deal maximum damage in a short amount of time. Turns out it’s a wide open courtyard with enemies above and below. Oops! So you snipe an enemy above, pull out the M4 Carbine on enemies below, and dive into an incoming group of enemies with dual Desert Eagles.As good as the first Max Payne’s weapons were, the sequel perfected it by giving projectiles a dedicated button and rebalancing other weapons (although the grenade launcher and baseball bat were sorely missed). While many games have a loadout similar to Max’s, it’s rare they strike the same balance. The difference it makes is drastic. Instead of leaning toward the vastly superior weapon, Max Payne’s intense combat scenarios and challenging difficulty demand the player to know what’s right for a specific enemy type and setting. Every battle is a victory well earned in Max Payne, even when it leaves poor Max hobbling on one leg toward the next ambush. Emotional complexityWhen David Cage and Jenova Chen speak of “emotional complexity”, I roll my eyes. After all, who is to say a father grieving for his kidnapped son is more emotionally complex than Kratos’ endless rage at the gods? From a distance, every emotion is equal in its potential for impact. It all depends on delivery and the player’s value judgement.However, I don’t entirely dismiss the idea of “emotional complexity.” It’s just that to me it means something much different. It’s not about the value judgement of a specific emotion but the layering of contrasting emotions: The way a Smiths song can sound so dour, while Morrissey’s sardonic lyrics can make me smile. The way George A. Romero’s Dawn of the Dead can make a zombie a source of fear seconds after being a source of laughter. Max Payne is also full of emotionally complexity. In play, the game can be harrowing depending on player health and ammo. In storytelling, the game can be freighting or laugh-out-loud funny depending on what it’s presenting at the time. In one instance you are in a nightmare having a dead baby shoved into your face, while another stage contains a parody of BBC’s Upstairs Downstairs. Having contrasting emotional elements isn’t a key to success, as Fez and Sword & Sworcery recently proved. Both games have dialog and elements that break the game’s fiction for a cheap, self-knowing laugh. It all comes down to delivery. While Max Payne 2 may take itself a bit more seriously, both games succeed in skillfully telling a story while giving the player enough opportunities to laugh, tense up, and occasionally shit themselves. True emotional complexity -- that is contrasting emotions piling into each other; not sappy music playing over pastoral landscapes -- makes for games with more depth. Whether it’s melancholy music playing over an upbeat adventure or comedic dialog overlapping a harrowing scenario, layered emotional tones can create unique, memorable moments in games. Start with a bangNeither Max Payne has a good story. Sure, they have great atmosphere, personality, and characters, but they hardly make up a tale we haven't heard before. What these games do have, however, is an immediate and clear goal given to the player by a time-tested story method: starting in media res.For you illiterate swine, in media res is a Latin term which means “into the middle of things." It’s when a story begins without introducing the setting, characters, and/or scenario. The audience enters into the story at a mid-point. The result is two-fold: positive and negative. On one hand, it creates an indifference in the viewer by distancing them from the characters’ reality. On the other hand, it creates a goal for the viewer: “I must figure out how things got to this point!”Thankfully, Max Payne is such a great narrator that we feel connected to him despite not understanding his situation. Max’s goal and our goal both intersect and conflict: We want him to get his revenge but we also want to know how he got his revenge. It’s an odd thing.I can’t tell you how many games I’ve played that start me from square one. Whether I’m a soldier in a training course or an orphan boy in a mystical village learning ancient mythology, I’ve been through the ringer so many times in games that I now find starting a new one intimidating due to the inevitably dull opening act. Max Payne’s approach is refreshing. I don’t need to have everything spelled out for me. If a developer feels that they must slowly initiate the player to the game world's history, please have the restraint to hold back until an hour or so into the action. Exposition is a cheap tactic in film, but in games it can be devastating to immersion and flow. Not every game needs to follow suit, but if games considered reining in the exposition early on we could tell familiar stories in new ways. Which is what storytelling should be about! Intelligently varied enemy encountersIndividuality is overrated. Location is everything. Just look around your day job or school. Are the most successful workers/students so stunning or are they just the product of fortunate events that lined before them?Sure, Max Payne may not have the enemy variety of an id Software game, but it makes up for it through economical placement. The game consistently changes things up when it comes to enemy positioning and strategy. Sometimes you’ll open a door and a thug will be standing in front of you with a shotgun pointed toward your face, so you point one right back at him. Another time you may have thugs running away from you for cover -- when do you ever seen that in games? Thugs come in through windows, elevator shafts, and occasionally grapple down from above. You are constantly on your toes. A far cry from Call of Duty, where enemies shuffle out of the same door and line up behind the same wall.It’s hard to give enemy variety to a game grounded in reality. Uncharted and Call of Duty throw heavily shielded enemies for challenge, but they are a nuisance that ruins the flow of combat. Max Payne shows that being creative with simple enemies and increasing their numbers can be much more engaging than one super-powered enemy with a shotgun -- though even Max Payne makes this mistake with a couple lackluster boss encounters. Thankfully these are the exception rather than the rule. I’ll be completely honest: I was worried I would have to force this entry or completely abandon it all together. As much as I loved Max Payne in 2001, I wasn’t sure it would hold up. I was pleasantly surprised than to rediscover how fantastic it is in nearly every aspect. The sequel made some major improvements in combat, but I still prefer the tone and quirks of the first. It’s hard to pick between the two but thankfully no one is forcing us to.I find Rockstar’s changes to the series very disconcerting as a fan, but I’d rather they make it their own than force themselves to fit into the mold Remedy made. The offbeat humor and tongue-in-cheek story of Max Payne definitely isn’t something most developers would attempt, which is a big factor of why it’s still a refreshing play. One thing I trust Rockstar will get right is the series' penchant for turning combat into a spectacle worthy of a Hollywood action film. So many developers today fail to realize that having action surrounding the player isn't the same as them contributing to it. There are only so many times you can watch a scripted sequence of a helicopter crashing and feel impressed. As the middling Modern Warfare 3 proved, having more helicopters falling and more explosions isn't the answer. The answer, upon revisiting Max Payne, is painfully obvious: Let the player tell the story through their actions and make the presentation so smooth that it feels as if the camera, animation, and enemy reactions were choreographed all along.
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[Getting It Right is a monthly series in which I take a look at the elements that make up a classic game. What were the key ingredients that set it apart and make it hold up to this day? Read on to find out.] It’s not e...

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Max Payne ruminates in Max Payne 3 launch trailer


May 10
// Conrad Zimmerman
Max Payne 3 releases next week, so it's only fitting that Rockstar would deliver a cinematic treat to remind everyone of this fact. Behold this trailer, in which a brooding Max Payne (as if there were any other kind) reflects on the twists and turns his life has taken and why he's not like anyone else. Damn straight, he isn't.
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Rockstar recently unveiled some cool new features for its Social Club, the most notable being the addition of cross-platform "crews" for the purpose of challenging other players in online feuds. We'll see crews play a big pa...

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Rockstar's Social Club gets more Social


May 07
// Liam Fisher
Rockstar launched their Social Club service alongside Grand Theft Auto IV a few years back and, if you're really into GTA or Red Dead Redemption's multiplayer odds are you've made good use of the platform. Between the mo...
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Part one of Max Payne 3 comic out now, read it for free


May 05
// Brett Zeidler
As was previously promised just a few weeks ago, Rockstar and Marvel have released the first part of the Max Payne 3 comic. Written by Dan Houser and Sam Lake, "After The Fall" explains a bit of Max's childhood and some event...
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The DTOID Show: Horse Ops II, Dawnguard, & a $99 Xbox 360


May 02
// Max Scoville
Hey guys! Here's another helping of Destructoid Show! If you don't eat it all, you won't get any dessert. (I'm kidding, that was a joke, please do not eat our internet news program, thanks.) Today, a bunch of big other shoes ...
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Rockstar reveals over seven map packs for Max Payne 3


May 01
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Rockstar has revealed their downloadable content plans for Max Payne 3, and at least seven map packs are in the works. The first one will be out in June, four additional ones are set for Summer, and two more for the Fall. Roc...
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The DTOID Show: Crysis 3, Free2Play MW3, & CoDBlops 2?


Apr 25
// Max Scoville
Tara's back! Finally! Hooray! Anyway, here's today's Destructoid show. Hamza went and checked out Crysis 3, Max Payne 3 requires SO MUCH of the gigabytes, as well as some fancy PC specs, and Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is...
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Max Payne 3 to ship on two Xbox 360 discs


Apr 25
// Jim Sterling
Max Payne 3's significant PC specs ought to have been a clue that Rockstar's upcoming game will be quite a demanding one, so it should come as no surprise that it'll ship on two discs for Xbox 360. Rockstar confirme...
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Max Payne 3 can scale up to monster PCs


Apr 23
// Brett Zeidler
Rockstar has never been known for their PC ports in the past. To this day, I still can't get GTA IV to play nice with my machine. They opted out of a port for Red Dead Redemption, and I never got around to L.A. Noire on PC, s...
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Marvel is publishing a Max Payne 3 comic mini-series


Apr 17
// Tony Ponce
I've been posting a lot of Archie comics news as of late. Probably a little too saccharine for some of you tough guys out there, I know. Here, this ought to satisfy your sophisticated palette! Rockstar Games has teamed up wit...
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The DTOID Show: Kinect Skyrim, Steam Box & Sleeping Dogs!


Apr 13
// Max Scoville
Howareyougentlemen! In case you missed it, here's the festering carcass of what was formerly today's live Destructoid show. We talked about some stuff: For starters, Skyrim is getting Kinect voice commands, and I'm sorry but ...
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Max Payne 3's bullet time explained


Apr 12
// Victoria Medina
Max Payne has bullet time, this is known. The above video wants to make sure of that though, and will fill you in on some of the improvements that have been made to the combat mode. It may also help you get pumped for the pe...
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I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Charlie Bewsher, the Lead Designer for Max Payne 3's multiplayer, after getting some hands-on time with its three modes: Gang Wars, Payne Killer, and Team Deathmatch. Watch th...

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Max Payne 3 playable at PAX East this week


Apr 02
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Rockstar will be at PAX East 2012 this week and they're bringing with them a heaping helping of Max Payne 3 goodness. Rockstar will be located at booth 912 where you can play the game, and possibly get your hands on some Max ...
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DTOID Extra: Hands on with Max Payne 3's multiplayer


Mar 29
// Tara Long
Last week, our producer Zac and I were lucky enough to get a full two hours of hands-on time with Max Payne 3's multiplayer, which you may have seen in the trailer that Rockstar released yesterday. We were both incredibly impressed with what we saw, especially the Gang Wars mode. Watch the video to see more of the three different multiplayer modes and what we thought of them!

Preview: Fun with guns in Max Payne 3 single/multiplayer

Mar 29 // Ryan Perez
Max Payne 3 (PC [previewed], Xbox 360 [previewed], PlayStation 3) Developer: Rockstar Studios Publisher: Rockstar Games Release: May 29th Our old friend with nothing to lose Max Payne made its original debut on the PC, which was also where I was first exposed to the series, personally. Since then, I have continued the tradition, playing its sequel, Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne, on the same platform the first day it launched. After having seen the series' third installment in action on NVIDIA's new 680 hardware, I can't see this PC trend breaking anytime soon for me. Rockstar stressed that Max Payne 3 was not a PC port. The game has been developed from the ground up with this platform in mind, even incorporating several DX11 features -- which is still oddly uncommon in a lot of games, for some silly reason. So any of you PC elitists who yearn for the days of old when console games were the afterthought, rest assured that MP3 will have plenty more than what the 360 and PS3 versions can offer. As for the actual single-player experience, all I can say is, "boing." The original Max Payne set so many standards with regards to action shooters, and MP3 certainly doesn't skimp on the quality that its predecessors were known for. The action is consistently fast and frantic, with slight interventions of dialogue and exposition. The stage I witnessed had Max and his buddy Passos blazing their way through a large gang-controlled stadium. Tight concession areas saw Max doing his signature slow-mo dive into small groups of enemies, littering the area (and his foes) with bullets. The level even provided a nice sniping diversion, where Max escorted his pal from afar, taking out any enemies in Passos' way. At one point, Passos backed away from an ascending stairway with his hands raised, where a gang member walked down with his gun pointed. As the enemy barked orders, Max lined up the perfect killshot; the bullet, presented in glorious slow-motion (à la the original Max Payne) flew cleanly through the gangster's head. Afterward, Passos could be seen slumping over, exasperated, as if to say, "I'm getting too old for this shit." Even the non-gamers at the event chuckled. It's great moments like these that have made the Max Payne series one of my all-time favorites. Presentation has always been a main focus in Rockstar's titles, and MP3 is no different. The series' familiar graphic novel-style narrative is back, but rather than still panels and voiceovers, cutscenes are edited in real-time into a sort of motion comic, much like you see in a lot of comic-inspired films. The result looked like a great way of keeping things moving. Even important expository information is presented at the bottom of the frame in the game's main typeface. For instance, if a character says something along the lines of, "First, we need to hurry and defuse the bomb," then the words "defuse the bomb" pop up on screen. It's a pretty nice way for the game to give the player their objective while retaining the pace. Max Payne 3 uses Rockstar's familiar RAGE Engine, and though one would expect that it'd be blatantly showing its age at this point, that's not really the case with MP3. Character models look better than they ever have, and some nice effects are produced during heated firefights; my personal favorite was the Matrix-style blurry tracers from bullets after Bullet Time had been activated. PC users can even expect features like Tessellation; I'll admit, I was a bit surprised to hear that the RAGE Engine was still capable of such feats. Like many of Rockstar's other games, MP3 also utilizes Natural Motion's Euphoria Engine. For those who don't know, Euphoria is a character behavior program that accurately calculates the reactions and animations that NPCs have during certain situations. Red Dead Redemption fans will recognize Euphoria from whenever Marston stumbled drunkenly out of a tavern, or by roping bandits and dragging them along while on horseback. In Max Payne 3, enemies react accordingly to gunshots to specific areas. They'll limp around when shot in the foot, or stand dead-armed after taking a round to the shoulder. To me, Euphoria's procedural programming has always felt more fluent and lifelike than predetermined animations or ragdoll physics. I only need to point to games like Max Payne 3 for proof. Overall, MP3's PC rendition looks damned sweet. Rarely has Rockstar ever disappointed us with their single-player experiences. After having seen Max Payne 3 in action, I don't think "disappointment" will be a term any of us will hear when the game launches in two months. I'm leaving to pre-order my copy for PC the moment I'm done with this preview, no bullshit. Brazilian brawls with buddies Even Rockstar agreed with me when I said this: It's almost as if it would make more sense for multiplayer in games like GTA IV and Red Dead Redemption to suck. Both games have such insanely well-made solo experiences, that multiplayer should be some sort of shitty afterthought. Anyone who has played either of the two games online can tell you that that's certainly untrue. Rockstar has developed the habit of tailoring multiplayer almost directly to the single-player. By this, I mean that whatever themes are accentuated in the core solo experience are brought over to multiplayer in the form of unique modes or features. GTA IV is about gangsters and the mafia, so it's multiplayer has a mode where a team of "Crooks" must get their boss to safety, while a team of "Cops" tries to take him down. Red Dead Redemption is influenced heavily by spaghetti westerns, so Rockstar thought, "Fuck it, let's have a Mexican standoff at the start of each multiplayer deathmatch." They followed this same philosophy in Max Payne 3. Sure, the game does have the obligatory free-for-all and team deathmatch modes ... some of us just want to shoot things, after all, right? I even played through a mode called Payne Killer, similar to King of the Hill, where two players take on the rolls of Max and his buddy Passos, giving up those roles once they are killed. The player with the most time alive as either character wins the match. The one mode that Rockstar was proudest to show off was called Gang Wars. Basically, it consists five consecutive rounds, each a different mode than the others, which all change according to the outcome of subsequent rounds. For instance, if one round requires a team to retrieve a particular package (in this case, a bomb), and they win that round, then the following match will see that same team delivering that bomb to a target location. This particular touch makes Gang Wars seem very dynamic, and provides a bit of a narrative aspect to the multiplayer experience. This mode, along with the ability to form personal gangs and have rivals with other groups, will certainly provided a worthwhile experience in its own right. Max Payne 3's multiplayer also features some considerable depth and customization. Players will have the ability to create loadouts, all with their own guns, items, and skills that are unlocked by acquiring cash and XP. The difference between other games with this feature, though, is that your character becomes slower with every new gun or item you equip him with. Believe me, it makes a difference, because I thought I'd go into each match packing heat like Rambo. Instead, I ran around like a fat asshole with knee issues. Now, I imagine a lot of people out there are particularly curious about how Bullet Time works. I myself imagined multiplayer consisting of a constant barrage of slowed time, no matter where you are on the map. Fortunately, Bullet Time is actually based on line of sight. If I can see you, then activate my BT, you slow down. And if you can see anyone else while you're slowed, they too are affected. This not only rids us the annoyance of being slowed every five seconds, but actually creates an interesting dynamic to the multiplayer's strategy. Anyone caught out in the open during Bullet Time is pretty screwed, but, if players are near a corner or doorway, all they have to do is simply break the enemy's view of them. Then, after waiting a few seconds, turn BT back on them. So, simply put, Bullet Time in multiplayer is freakin' awesome. In fact, one of my most cherished memories will always be watching a Rockstar employee dive at me, time slowed to a crawl, only for me to club him in the face with the butt of my gun and kill him ... before he hit the ground. Bullet Time is but one of the many extra abilities that you can take into combat. These abilities are known as "Bursts," and range from granting you and your teammates health boosts to forcing members of the opposing team to see each other as enemies. Can you imagine how pissed certain people are going to be, once they're gunned down by a teammate during a pivotal moment of the round? I certainly can. One particular multiplayer feature that I liked was the ability to create a "vendetta." If a member of the enemy team kills you twice, without you killing them once, you can basically flip them the bird by forming a vendetta, which creates a large, distinguishable marker above their head, and also yields more cash for killing them. Unfortunately, I didn't win a single goddamned vendetta, but I can imagine the enemy players got some joy out of my failure -- and the bonus dough I granted them. I do love brightening up people's already awesome days. I have to give credit where it's due: Max Payne 3 certainly does not feature your run-of-the-mill multiplayer. Its modes are fun and varied, it features more depth and variety than most people will probably anticipate (you can even completely customize your in-game model, hipster glasses included), and its gunplay is fast, frantic, and incredibly fun. I can already tell I'm going to enjoy multiplayer in MP3 just as much as I did in GTA IV and RDR.
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I'm going to slip on my flamboyant fanboy hat for a second here and say that I adore the Max Payne series. Ever since the third installment was announced about 63 f*ckin' years ago, every morning has felt like a lie to me; th...

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Rockstar offers first look at Max Payne 3's multiplayer


Mar 28
// Brett Zeidler
Rockstar has finally unleashed a trailer that shows off the multiplayer of Max Payne 3 for the first time. And yes, Max Payne 3 is going to have multiplayer. It was inevitable. But if it's anything like Red Dead Redempt...
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The DTOID Show: Orbis, SimCity 5, and Max Payne 3!


Mar 28
// Tara Long
Evening, my lovelies. We've got a great show for you today - one full of flowers, pony rides, butterscotch candies, and all the video game news you could ever want!* On today's show, Max dove into some rumors about the next ...
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New Max Payne 3 video puts the submachine guns on display


Mar 23
// Brett Zeidler
Like guns? Good, because Max Payne 3 has a ton of them. But you already knew that. Now, what sort of guns you ask? Well, good thing you asked because Rockstar has you covered. Today, they released a new trailer that shows of...

Review: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680

Mar 22 // Ryan Perez
[embed]224337:43139[/embed] NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680Manufacturer: NVIDIARelease: March 22, 2012MSRP: $499 Important GeForce GTX 680 specs: CUDA Cores: 1,536 (Three times more than the 580) Base Clock: 1006 MHz Boost Clock: 1058 MHz Memory Clock: 6008 MHz Interface: 256-bit Total Memory: 2048MB GDDR5 Total Memory Bandwidth: 192.26 GB/s Texture Filtering Rate (Bilinear): 128.8 Giga Texels/sec Connectors: 2 x Dual-Link DVI, 1 x HDMI, 1 x DisplayPort Recommended Power Supply: 550 Watts Thermal Design Power: 195 Watts (244 Watts for 580) Power Connectors: 2 x 6-pin (One 6-pin and one 8-pin for 580)  My general PC specs: Windows 7 x64 (cards are already compatible with Windows 8) Intel i7 2.80 GHz 8GB DDR3 SDRAM I'm just going to get straight to what most of you want to know: How it handles games. The reason I posted my rig's not-so-uber specs above is actually a way of pointing out that my 680 has been taking a lot of the stress with all of the graphically heavy games I've thrown at it. It's all for the card. Believe me, I would have gladly neglect mentioning my specs, as mentioning your lackluster PC to techies is like showing your four-incher to a porn star. The first game I tested -- and the most obvious -- was Battlefield 3. An important note about its Frostbite 2 engine is that it's very efficiently built to run on an adequately powered rig. My old 560 Ti (always overclocked) could handle ultra settings at around 40 to 50 FPS, minus VSync or anti-aliasing. So it's obvious that a 680 would make short work of this game's demands. However, even on powerful rigs, framerate drops are common during heated battles with an abundance of particle effects (smoke and explosions) and game models crowding the screen. To test this out the best I could, I played through several "Conquest Large" matches on BF3's biggest maps available, all on completely maxed-out settings. Even when a team had only one point captured, and the player focus was centered on that entire area, I didn't witness a single drop in smoothness. I mean I literally kept my eyes on the framrate as the sh*t was hitting the fan, and noticed no fluctuation at all. I then tested the 680 on an engine that isn't very efficiently built. The Witcher 2's RED Engine has turned quite a few heads due to its looks, though it's no secret that maxed-out settings require an overall top-end PC. More specifically, the "Uber Sampling" feature is typically what kills the game's performance, as it renders each scene several times over to provide a smoother image quality. Most people turn this feature off, as the slight visual improvement doesn't justify the hardware demands. On my 560 Ti, you could swear I was playing some game I received from ten years into the future; a whopping 15 FPS was the best I got out of it. With the 680, though, it ran at a very stable 40 to 50 FPS, with almost no drops below that 40 (even during combat). Mainly due to the RED Engine's cumbersome features, The Witcher 2 was one of the most technically demanding games I could test on it. A close equal was Crysis 2 with its DX11 upgrades, which ran surprisingly better than Witcher. Out of all the games I tested on the 680 (others include Skyrim, Rage and Just Cause 2), the most rewarding was undoubtedly Crysis 2. The Frostbite 2 engine looks beautiful because of it versatility, but the CryEngine 3 looks incredible because of its cutting-edge features, and the 680 handles them all brilliantly. Displacement maps, high-quality HDR, real-time reflections, and particle motion blur all look absolutely fantastic. My 560 Ti could barely handle Crysis 2 on max settings at around 30 FPS. My 680 laughs at it, with a strong 60 FPS, only dropping to near 50 during moments of extreme action (lots of explosions and particle effects). After all of this, I can't say I'm surprised that the 680 performed the way it did. Many people may remember the Unreal Engine 3 Samaritan Demo from last year's GDC. Well, that demo, mind-bogglingly beautiful as it was, originally required three GTX 580s and a power supply the size of a small child. When I was first presented the 680 at NVIDIA's Editor's Day event during GDC 2012, the same tech demo was shown ... running on a single 680 and nothing else. NVIDIA wants this card to really mean something to the gaming community, not only by being ultra powerful and providing us with longevity, but also via the cutting-edge features that are idiosyncratic to NVIDIA cards alone. A lot of you might have been wondering how I got such close framerate fluctuation with VSync presumably on (it was). Without getting too technical, a big issue people have with VSync is that it forces the framerate to drop by positive integers, based on your monitor's refresh rate (i.e. a 60Hz monitor dropping by 60FPS, 30, 20, 15, etc.) all for the sake of preventing "screen tearing." We gamers can see the obvious problem with this, as the drastic drop in framerate results in "jittering." To combat this, NVIDIA has developed what's known as "Adaptive VSync," which automatically turns off global VSync whenever the framerate needs to fall to anything below your monitor's max refresh rate. No more jitter and no more screen tearing. As another means of providing a smoother gaming experience, NIVIDA is aspiring to do away with MSAA (Multisample anti-aliasing) by providing their own FXAA, which can be activated within the card alone and be applied to any game. They're also providing the upcoming TXAA, a new film-style AA that is at least 4X more effective than MSAA. The result is a welcome addition, as we've been long overdue for an upgrade in this area. Another great feature that we're all becoming acquainted with is PhysX, NVIDIA's proprietary physics engine. PhysX has been steadily appearing in a lot of high-quality titles, providing great rigid and soft body dynamics, as well as fluid and cloth simulations. At NVIDIA's Editor's Day, Gearbox Software CEO Randy Pitchford showed off Borderlands 2 and how it implemented PhysX. Fluids pooled and flowed in complete real-time, and even reacted to explosions -- splashing about into numerous smaller puddles. Cloth materials reacted accordingly to foreign objects, and could even be torn and shredded when fired at. It was quite incredible how these effects could be handled with such relative ease in real-time, when just five years ago it took me several hours to render them for 3D animations on a high-end PC. The last upgrade I'm going to mention is, in a lot of ways, more of a downgrade, but sold me on the card merely due to my living situation. As stated before, the 680 is a very efficient card, and that applies more than anything to its power consumption. The 680 is so streamlined that it actually draws less power than its predecessor, the 580 (see the specs above). What does this mean for me? Well, as a city that desperately tries to retain some sort of bullsh*t identity, San Francisco is adamant about holding on to their Victorian architecture of the 1920s. This includes the f*cked up power distribution systems that came with them. With that said, I can only have about two appliances on at any one time, before I cause a power surge and my place goes completely dark. When it comes to PC gaming, this presents a problem. I actually used to SLI two 560s, but had to get rid of one if I wanted to game with my heater on -- enduring cold San Francisco nights is definitely not worth an extra 560 Ti. So you can imagine that a card like the 680 fairs well for someone with my situation, if not also for people who dig the environment or like saving money on bills. Not only does it consume less power than the best of last generation, but its TDP is only 25 more than my freakin' 560 Ti. After seeing the Samaritan demo and what it took to run it last year, I don't know how they accomplished what they have with the 680. It's like someone sold their ass to the Devil to make this thing. To really explain every notable change and addition with the GeForce GTX 680 would take so much more time. This new line of graphics cards is leaps and bounds beyond the 500 series. This review alone is obviously not going to convince you to throw down $499 on a new card, but I do hope it drives you to do a little more digging into the fine details of the 680 ... especially if you plan on upgrading. PC gaming is slowly but surely making a comeback, and the GeForce 680 is the card to welcome it with open arms. Several games are in development right now with this very card in mind (others shown at the NVIDIA event were Max Payne 3 and The Secret World). If you yearn for the time when you filled your PC with the best of the best tech in preparation for the hottest-looking games to come, then the time is certain now, and the tech is certainly this card. Oh, and before I go, all of you hardcore NVIDIA fans are probably going to want to watch this: [embed]224337:43138[/embed]
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For some of us, upgrading our PCs with the best hardware and enjoying the most jaw-dropping games in all their glory is a not-so-distant memory. Even though I've consistently owned beefy rigs my whole life, I've spent less an...

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Max Payne 3 behind the scenes video shows impressive tech


Mar 16
// Brett Zeidler
I always love this kind of stuff. There's a certain "man behind the curtain" thing associated with videogames or any type of entertainment medium. But it's really cool to hear how games were put together and have some things...
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Four Max Payne 3 screenshots to get you all moody


Mar 15
// Jim Sterling
Here are four Max Payne 3 screenshots. There are guns in them, and nobody is happy. Max is just angry, all of the time. Angry and bald. Bald and angry.  Still, the shots look pretty enough, and ought to keep your excitement bubbling for what is likely to be one of this year's biggest hits. So why not gawp at them? Remember not to smile.
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[Update: Contest closed! Winner is @feralgoose. Thanks for entering!] GameStop is offering Max Payne fans a chance to get their names immortalized on a tombstone in the GameStop exclusive pre-order bonus map, Cemetery, in Max...

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The DTOID Show: Assassin's Creed III? GO AMURICA!


Mar 03
// Tara Long
Happy Friday, gamurzzzzzz. That's what you guys like to be called, right? Either way, we've got a very special show for you today. Or rather, we had one. It's over now, but you can still enjoy it in all its HD glory, thanks ...

Preview: How Max Payne 3 made me a believer again

Mar 01 // Casey Baker
Max Payne 3 (PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [previewed]) Developer: Rockstar Studios Publisher: Rockstar Games Release: May 15, 2012 (360, PS3) / May 29, 2012 (PC) Max and his acquaintance Raul Passos enter a soccer stadium in Sao Paulo, Brazil, planning to pay off a ransom to a group that has kidnapped the trophy wife of real estate mogul Rodrigo Branco. Unfortunately for Max, things get muddled when an unknown third party takes Fabiana Branco and leaves Max with a sniper bullet in his shoulder. I took over here, and as I pushed an injured and slightly hallucinating Max along the dim hallways of the stadium, it became apparent that most of the Max Payne series' standout qualities have been retained. While the story is no longer told in static comic panels, it is still conveyed with great stylistic flair, including direct narration and witty one-liners from Max. Cut-scenes bleed into gameplay, and the storytelling keeps a graphic novel perspective. Words stand out boldly on-screen as they are narrated. The story moves through a series of flashbacks that take place in New York, and the cut-scenes often transition seamlessly from present-day Sao Paulo to New York. Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to check out any New York levels, but I did get a peek at how the storyline would integrate the present and the past. As I reached my first large combat scenario in an abandoned training room, Rockstar representatives began to tell me how to effectively use the newest iteration of bullet-time, and it took a few tries deflating a lone soccer ball before I really got the hang of it. You can go into bullet-time at any moment by clicking down on the right stick; as a result, time slows down and frenetic combat situations become much more manageable. One thing that was immediately noticeable was that the game really encourages bullet-time, as aiming becomes a much more refined affair in this mode. I noticed that when I tried to play the game like it was Red Dead Redemption, my gun had a much weightier feel to it, and I would often swing wide of my target and miss it entirely, spraying a random set of lockers with my bullets instead. This strategic use of bullet-time really makes Max Payne 3 shine. A fair bit of criticism has been aimed at earlier Rockstar efforts because of their cover-based shooting mechanics, where it felt like you basically used the exact same strategy in every combat scenario. You'd find a good place to duck down, and then pop up and try to hit dudes who were little tiny heads popping around cover. Max Payne 3 truly flips this conceit on its head: I found cover rather ineffective, as enemies would often either rush me or flank me, making it difficult to return fire as my reticule swung wildly. Instead, the real rush of combat in this game comes from actually running headlong into a room full of bad guys, switching on bullet-time, and then using your weaponry and every environmental object at your disposal to take care of them all. It's like a much more evolved version of John Woo's Stranglehold. Bullet-time, and especially the shootdodge mechanic that you can initiate by running in any direction and pressing the right bumper, can be a glory to behold. With the Euphoria engine at play, Max actually moves quite realistically. He actually twists around in the air (or while prone on the ground) as he aims in every direction. My favorite move would be to run into a room of bad guys, initiate the shootdodge mechanic with a flying leap, and then flip around, shooting everyone in the room as I flew backwards onto the ground. Sometimes Max would even shoot under one of his legs in one smooth natural motion, which was both hilarious and awesome at the same time. As you use bullet-time, you can press the A button (on the Xbox 360 controller) to slow time down to a near-standstill, and whenever you kill the last enemy in the room, you're treated to a final kill-cam that lets you watch as the blood splatters realistically out of a dude's head while you're still pumping him with bullets. This seriously never gets old, and I found myself abusing the mechanic as much as possible. I continued through the stadium, shooting bad guys with dramatic flair. As I reached the actual stadium stairs, I decided to get really clever and leaped into the air above a bunch of guys hiding out in the bleachers below me. I managed to take down four of them before hitting the ground with a brutal thud that caused everyone in the room to laugh and reminded me that physics were still at play. A little later on, I climbed up into a tower and initiated an action sequence where I had to snipe from above, protecting Passos from enemies flanking him on all sides. The sniping was spot-on as well, as I had to really lead my shots and account for the direction and movement of my enemies. Here too, bullet-time was necessary to get in good shots and do it in enough time to save my acquaintance. The stadium level ended with Payne and Passos just missing Fabiana as she's taken away, and at this point I handed the controller off to Tara Long to get a feel of the game. Tara soon demonstrated another really awesome aspect of Max Payne 3: the automatic melee combat system. Just about every time you get near an enemy, Max knocks them out, and you have a chance to execute them with a bullet to the head at point-blank range while engaged in bullet-time. Tara proved to be pretty merciless, employing the tactic of running up to enemies and smacking them down before a shotgun blast in the face or the nuts. Though we both played in complete free-aim mode (and thus made it a bit more difficult for ourselves), you can always turn aim assist on if you're having trouble. Another aspect of the combat that came into play in the second level was using the environment to one's advantage. Max was running through the docks of the Tiete River on a rainy night, and throughout the level there are places where the environment can help turn the tide of combat to your advantage. One such point was a boat landing, where a truck sat just beyond the water's edge. The player had the option to shoot the obstruction blocking the truck's tire from rolling downhill, which sent it rolling into the river along with a few bad dudes. Also sprinkled around the level were the inevitable gas canisters, though using them was a strategic affair -- they took a while to explode, so timing was important. Both levels we played were great examples of how the series is retaining its noir feel through visual flourishes. The stadium level saw Max hallucinating a bit as he struggled to get through the area with his wounded arm (which, by the way, he quipped, is his "second favorite drinking arm"), and the gritty arena was rife with dark corners and minimal but effective lighting. The docks level included impressive rain and storm effects, as the wet asphalt glistened and lit up with every lightning flash. After jumping back into the game to finish the docks segment, I came away from the whole experience incredibly pumped for what Max Payne 3 will have to offer. With a cohesive storyline that's told in a similar but more evolved fashion and tight combat mechanics that make you feel like the bad-ass that Max Payne always has been, I sincerely cannot wait until this game comes out in May. Though I didn't get to see the multiplayer in action at all, I was told it will be a very engaging experience and will even include bullet-time for those in your line of sight. Also included will be an exciting Gang Wars mode, where the objective will constantly shift based entirely on how each match is progressing. Knowing Rockstar, the multiplayer will add a great deal of replay value to an already stellar single-player experience. Any fears I had about where Rockstar was taking the series have been effectively put to rest, and I can't wait to glue myself to the television set to see how Max's story will progress.
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I didn't have the highest of hopes going into the preview for Max Payne 3. I love the series, and though I know the latest has been getting preened and primped by Rockstar to match the caliber of their games, initial impressi...


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