Max Payne 3
Max Payne 3 has achieved a masterpiece status through its cinematics, storyline, art style, excellent mechanics and its solid multiplayer, but unfortunately there are some issues with the title which holds it back from being nearly perfect. The issues that plague the game and sometimes makes the game frustrating include oddly placed checkpoints, some what repetitive shootout sequences and difficulty balance issue which could cause great frustrations for people. Yet even with these issues Max Payne 3 manages to blow my mind and give me a truly fantastic experience.
We revisit Payne who is now a drunken wreck, delirious with grief over the murder of his wife and daughter. He is in a state of mental distortion and openly admits he is ready for death but somehow still manages to hang on through his obsessive drinking and pill abuse. Max Payne 3 brings us on a adventure where we get to explore the past and present state of Max. Max has taken up a job of being a private security contractor in Sao Paulo, Brazil where he is tasked to protect a wealthy family in a city filled with social tension. We also get to play through the events leading up to the sudden change in career, which takes place in New Jersey. Here Max has an unfortunate run in with Italian gangsters which forces him to leave town and accept his friend’s job proposal as a private security contractor. As the stories unfold players will learn more and more about Max and the troubles he encounters.
Players will play through Max’s past and present at the same time and at both plots will slowly unravel and create a truly deep and engaging story. The story is further improved by the superb voice acting, enthralling music and a very interesting visual style. Players will be subjected to blurred visions, doubled graphics, saturated blooming effects that wipe the screen, comic book style scenes, and washed out colors. All this choreographed with typography to create a truly unique and majestic experience of what it means to hit rock bottom.
Along with these cinematic visuals Max Payne 3 takes us to a wide range of locations from New Jersey bars and run down apartment buildings to prisons, stadiums, nightclubs, jungles and favelas. Each area seeming to be carefully crafted to offer a very realistic experience of what it may look like to have a firefight within each area. This plays heavily on the graphical capabilities of the game which may not be the absolute best but honestly they are damn good. Flowing from cutscene to a massive firefight rolls seamlessly with some minor loading in between checkpoints. (On a side note I really enjoy what the devs did with bright flash lights and lasers.)
The game plays much like a much cleaner and improved version of the past 2 games with one of the difference being the pitch perfect control system. A customisable auto-targeting system that lets players decide how hard or soft they want their auto targeting systems to work. The higher the auto targeting you select the more aggressive the auto targeting will work by forcefully yanking your crosshairs toward specific enemies. Both options are smart, seamless and intuitive. This system allows newcomers to ease into the turbo-charged pace of the game without much difficulty. There’s also a free aim system for veterans, happy to do their own thing with the rather sensitive cross hairs which provides a perfect aiming system.
The controls have been tweaked as well. They are much more fluid and responsive, although sometimes you may look like a ragdoll during slow motion kill cam shots. But this updated control system creates a great experience for this rather hectic and fast paced game where you are always on the move. You will have to run, dodge, dive, duck and roll to stay behind cover and advance forward. The great thing is, like a true action hero you can shoot while doing all these things, with precise accuracy.
The last update comes in the form of Max Payne’s signature components and arguably one of the mechanics that make the game so great, bullet time and shootdodge. Essentially, they have only been tweaked – get kills to fill the meter, then press right analogue to enter slow-mo bullet mode, Allowing you to run or jump into the midst of a firefight and take out every enemy before hitting the ground or running a few steps. Even after 2 games of using these components it still feels fresh and new. It is utterly satisfying to dive headfirst down a stairwell, firing your pistols at a roomful of gang members or secret forces. For some this may get boring or feel overused but it is always a satisfying experience because you do it without thinking and the outcomes are never the same. You may miss every shot or your meter may have not been filled all the way causing a shorter bullet time than expected. Hell I have jumped into walls and even into the person I was shooting which really throws a kink in your split second decision.
Some new additions includes the sheer difficulty of the game and kill shots. The game feels like an old school game when it comes to difficulty and some sequences may take a number of tries because you either died or ran out of time. Sometimes you may be able to scrape by a giant fire fight but fall victim to single shot from a single enemy that was hiding which will throw you back to your last checkpoint which may be quite far back. It may also just be me but the AI on medium really knew how to place their shots and grenades to cause the most damage. Die enough times and the game will throw you some extra painkillers to use and when you die you will enter bullet time to have a chance to kill your killer. Kill him before you fall to the ground and the game will automatically use one of your pain killers and if you don’t have any pain killers… well game over. The introduction of kill shots also makes the game more enjoyable for a short time. Kill the last person in an area and you will enter into bullet time and will watch as the bullet kills the person. Yes this has been done before, but continue to shoot at the person and watch as each bullet you pump out penetrate your enemy. It is actually a pretty satisfying experience especially if you have a semi automatic gun.
The game also changes up the amount of guns you may carry. Players may only carry 2 small guns whether it be a pistol or a small machine gun and one 2 handed gun which can consist of a shotgun, rifle or assault rifle. The great thing is that the gun has a large arsenal for players to use so finding a gun you enjoy may be a little difficult.
Max Payne 3 also has a few extra modes to add ontop of its 10-hour(ish) campaign, there’s an arcade mode, split into two options: Score Attack which gets you to re-attempt any chapter you have completed for the highest score possible, adding multipliers to consecutive or stylish hits; New York Minute is all about finishing missions as quickly as possible, earning extra time from kills.
Aside from these 2 new modes the game tacks on multiplayer. When I say tack I mean a solid multiplayer experience with plenty of modes and customization to keep a player busy and engaged. They have regular modes like deatmatch and team deathmatch but then they also have Payne Killer, which puts two players into the roles of Max and Passos in a juggernautish style– they’ve got to survive as long as possible and if one gets killed, the killer takes on that role. So the 2 hunted need to stick together in order to survive which is an excellent take on the traditional juggernaut mode. But, none of these modes really stack up (in my opinion) to Gang Wars, which takes elements from the story mode and mixes them into a multi-stage team-based battle, with various challenges from conquest territorial skirmishes, to plant and defend objectives.
Players can also customize their character with various weapons, items gear and even kill streaks which are called “bursts”. Burst come in various forms from having the ability to enter bullet time to appearing as a friendly to an enemy and even forcing enemies to lose all their weapons attachments. Players can level up these “Burst” to do more damage and cause more mayhem. To view all the items, weapons, gears, bursts and more visit this page.
Max Payne 3 may be linear but what it lacks in vast open environment it makes up with solid controls, updated mechanics, stunning visuals, a compelling story and an overall feeling of Euphoria. It is a tale of epic proportions that not many games in recent history can match and simply put, it is one of the best shooters I have played in a long while that meant anything more than a simple multiplayer experience.
About Luigi Guarnuccio
I am a Multimedia Gamer. I have been gaming all my life and it is my main source of inspiration for my work as a designer/developer.