Product Type: Take 2 PC games
Newest Review: ... be used to heal up Max in the event that he is injured in battle. Speaking of the painkillers, these also act as a mechanism to make the... more
MAX PAYNE 3 IS A SOLID RETURN FROM OUR FAVORITED NOIRE AVENGER
Max Payne 3 (PC)
Member Name: AlexEdge
Max Payne 3 (PC)
Advantages: Great story, great action, stays true to previous games, fun.
Disadvantages: A few bugs that need patching
In a game based on shooting, that's ostensibly a good thing. You certainly won't be left wanting for people on which to practice your slow motion 'shoot dodges'. By the end of the 12-15 hour running time you'll be terrifyingly efficient - activating bullet time, sweeping into a room, puncturing three skulls and then finishing off with an acrobatic dive to flamboyantly empty your clip into the fourth. We can imagine John Woo nodding his head in silent appreciation.
The problem is, do anything - no matter how much fun - 1,000 times and it begins to become a mite repetitive. Max Payne 3's only regular concessions to variety are the odd mounted gun sections, which don't really change the formula beyond temporarily removing the use of your legs. There are armoured flavours of enemy, who require a headshot or two before they acquiesce and fall over, but you'll have been prioritising the cranium for efficiency's sake anyway.
In a way it's old school. Max Payne 3's biggest triumph is that, in a similar fashion to Deus Ex: Human Revolution, the new development team has captured the style and feel of the original game perfectly. Max might have put on a few pounds since the early noughties, but the first time you dive into a room, swivelling in mid-air to plug multiple enemies, it'll all come flooding back. Like the original games, it's the narrative and the locations that keep you from switching your brain off and reverting to murderous muscle memory.
The plot's engaging, complex and beautifully delivered. It's also a unique take on the videogame 'hero' - Max is an alcoholic wreck at the beginning of the game and things don't improve a great deal throughout. Somehow, it makes it easier to root for Payne as he's shambling from one disastrous encounter to another, desperately trying to do the right thing. The now infamous point where Max shaves his head represents a noticeable gear-shift for the plot - it's not quite two different games, what with the ceaseless murdering, but it's definitely a dramatic evolution of the character himself. His motivation is your motivation after all, and it's that renewed sense of purpose that powers you through the second half of the game.
That and the opportunity for some sightseeing. The Favela in Sao Paulo is the standout location - delicately decorated with the same care and attention you'd expect from a Hollywood set - but it's just one of the locations you'll visit on a global tour. Fans of the series will relish the flashbacks to New Jersey, which both tweak the nostalgia neurons and help tie Rockstar Vancouver's Max with Remedy's original article. While the game is traditionally linear, these environments do encourage some gentle exploration. There are non-essential clues scattered around that flesh out the plot and collectible golden gun parts for completists. Proper single-player replay value comes from a series of leaderboard-enabled 'Arcade' run-throughs that are vaguely reminiscent of Bizarre Creations' forgotten score-chaser The Club.
More surprising is a multiplayer that manages to include bullet time without turning into a confusing treacly mess. The line of sight system makes clear whether you're seeing the benefit of the effect or not and there are only rare occasions where you'll suffer brief snatches of momentum-sapping slowdown. Maps expand and contract sensibly based on the gametype and the number of players, which mitigates the fact that there's only a handful of environments available. It's best played in Gang Wars mode, which uses a light narrative to stitch together five different team-based rounds in a single location. Genuinely interesting perks and unlocks should keep the disc spinning in your Xbox for longer than you'd expect from a game that sells itself on its single player.
Like its hero, Max Payne 3 has its flaws. The repetitive action might be reminiscent of the original games, but it's still repetition, and ultimately that causes things to drag. Fortunately just like Max himself it's also difficult to dislike - the plot isn't something you'll be able to leave alone for long, bullet time still has the capacity to thrill and the multiplayer provides the variety and unpredictability required for genuine longevity. This new spin on familiar action is proof, if proof were needed, that there's life in the old dog yet.
Summary: There's life in this old dog yet (MAX PAYNE 3 IS A SOLID RETURN FROM OUR FAVORITED NOIRE AVENGER)