RPG Index: Single player Role Playing Games

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Max Payne 3

Rockstar have always been known for creating iconic games. I haven't played a bad game developed by Rockstar yet. Max Payne is a franchise known by every veteran gamer. When the first title in the series was released in 2001, it was an instant classic and a step forward for TPS gaming. The slow motion bullet time effect and advanced graphics were an instant hit for the market. 11 years later, we have the third edition of Max Payne, bringing back the linear third person shooter we all love so much.

Opening scene from the game Max Payne 3
Max seems to find himself narrowly avoiding more than one Hollywood special effect.

Genre: Action, Third-Person Shooter
Release Date: 15th May 2012
Platforms: PC, PS3, Xbox 360
Score: 8/10
Similar Titles: Uncharted, Alan Wake, Red Dead Redemption

An image of gameplay and a gunfight in Max Payne
Churches are always a good place to start a gunfight.

I've only dabbled in the first two Max Payne games, but I enjoyed playing them. Max Payne 3 is actually created by an entirely different developer and writer from the first game. Passing off a franchise to somebody else is a surefire way to kill it, as Devil May Cry has recently proven. Fortunately, Rockstar did a bang up job of keeping Max alive and kicking.

A nice looking screenshot of Max creeping through a graveyard
Your journey will take you through the worst parts of Brazil.

Max Payne 3 has all the typical elements of a TPS game. Shoot things in the face and they die. Guns can be picked up off the ground, and you only have space to equip 2 sidearms and one rifle. You can use cover to avoid spraying enemies, and cover can always be found in every scene. You can roll to avoid bullets and sprint to reach areas faster. But aside from these basic mechanics, there are a few extra features that make this game special. Bullet time slows down the action, allowing you to see every bullet and aim accurately. It can be used at any time, even while diving through the air. Another feature that I liked was the lack of survivability Max had. One headshot and you're dead, unless you have some painkillers handy. I found myself very vulnerable. If I wasn't cautious, I'd often catch a bullet in the chest when stepping around a corner.

Gameplay of a static shooting scene in Max Payne 3
These scenes where you're forced to shoot from a static position aren't too bad.

Within minutes of playing, I was thoroughly enjoying myself. I've always had a soft spot for third-person shooting titles, there's something cool about being able to watch your character do awesome feats. Killing the last enemy in the room slows down the camera and allows you to watch the bullets sail into your opponent, creating a sadistic and brutal end to his miserable life. The bullet camera is incredibly cool, and I found myself unloading a full clip into people, just to watch the impact. There aren't many things more satisfying than watching a hail of metal sail realistically into your enemies flesh. That might sound a little evil, but it's true.

Raul Passos talking to Max in a cut scene
Raul Passos is almost as handy with a weapon as Max.

Max Payne 3 has the ideal mix of run and gun action combined with tactical cover use. If you're a crazy kind of guy, you can complete your playthrough leaping over barriers and rolling around the fray like a maniac. If you're more conservative, you can advance using cover and picking your shots carefully. Killing enemies regenerates Max's limited bullet time ability, which forces you to be smart about using it. I played on the hardest difficulty, and wasting even a second of my slow-motion would be punishing. When you die it places you back at a nearby checkpoint, which is far better than waiting for the game over screen.

Max Payne being set up
Guess who?

Unlike the first two games, Max isn't on a quest to avenge his dead wife or uncover the truth of her murder. Several years have passed since our protagonist worked for the NYPD. Max is older, cynical, and much removed from the world. Instead of moving on from the past, he spends his time buried in a bottle of alcohol, drinking booze to get through the day. The game takes place in São Paulo, where Max is working as a bodyguard for the Branco family after being recruited by his friend Raul Passos. After a party is crashed by kidnappers intent on taking Rodrigo Branco and his wife; the bullets start flying and Max Payne gets thrown into the fray once again.

An office shootout in the PC version of Max Payne
This office got a little messy after I was done with it.

After immersing myself in the story and blasting my way through a few levels, I could tell Max Payne 3 was a well designed and polished game. The voice actors had some great lines, outlining controversial topics such as the rich and entitled ignoring poverty when it's staring them in the face. The characters are realistic and different. The graphics and textures are through the roof, far above average. Despite this, there are a few annoying issues. Aiming your crosshair can be troublesome because it's only a small white dot. It can be frustrating to get instantly killed by a lucky head shot and be forced to repeat an entire firefight. If you don't like linear titles, stay away. Other than the aforementioned problems, you might encounter the occasional minor bug or two.

Plot inconsistency in the game Max Payne 3
Out of the hundred of bullets Max has taken, this one actually slows him down. Makes sense.

In conclusion, Max Payne 3 is certainly a purchase worth making. Rockstar did a fantastic job of keeping the franchise going. Especially with the added online multiplayer, which isn't half bad. I'd suggest familiarizing yourself with the first two games before playing, although it isn't necessary. This game deserves the 8/10 I gave it, possibly more. So if you like action packed third-person shooters with a brutal story and a contemptuous main character, get your cash out!

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