Max Payne 3 may be wildly different from both of its predecessors in both looks in terms of character and graphics overall, but deep down, the formula works just the same as the other games- if not with more affinity and success this time around. Max has always been a flawed and deeply afflicted character, but now he comes out and shows it more times than he did in the previous two games combined. After his fall, he took to drinking even more often, smoking funny substances, and generally dragging his feelings around and around to no avail. This new chapter in the tragic life of Max Payne is truly a vastly different one, and yet a trip down memory lane at the same time.
One of the great ways that the wonderful story of Max’s terrible addiction and his memories are subtly shown comes through the addition of some static, television looking grey fuzz around the edges of the screen- and colored flash forwarding through some parts where he is either impaired or injured. This progresses the story in a more solidly paced and realistic way, in addition to the fact that there are virtually no loading screens whatsoever throughout the game- whether between cutscenes or gameplay. This game is almost as much or more of a fall for Max than the second, and that is not due to the story itself but simply as a result of his biting sense of humor and inane inner speeches throughout.
As another way to show sides of Max we already know, and to build up parts of the story we don’t- we get to watch many a scene where the anithero and ex-cop profusely drinks and guzzles down painkillers at the same time. It is quickly apparent that he has a strong disregard for his own health, with the hell he’s already been through and seen.
The world of Max Payne 3 takes place almost exclusively in Brazil, and more exactly- the city of Sao Paulo. This is a very realistic and seedy world, and Max easily fits in with the rest of the people populating it. Starting work as a security head for some rich tycoons, Max frequents clubs, parties, and enormous buildings with the real estate giants- and eventually sets up the story quickly for him to come under fire when things go awry. Throughout each of the places he visits, the story twists and turns the entire way- never once letting up between the equally intense gunfights and cinematic moments. That is the first glory of Max Payne 3. Between kidnappings, intense gun battles in bars and clubs, insane parties, security detail, and mingling with the shady underworld and the Brazilian drug trade, Max has all fronts covered.
While all of this is relatively new to both Max and players around the world, as soon as the bullets start flying and the f-bombs start dropping, the old iconic shooter we all know returns. The Bullet Time technique returns in the third installment of the series, and is better than ever before, or in any other slow motion knockoff for the matter. Even better, there are multiple opportunities for you to delve into this gamemode throughout the campaign and story. not only can you yourself choose to open up this portion of gunplay tools whenever you wish during combat, but there are also certain scripted moments scattered about where you must target a certain object or enemy and watch the fireworks go. This makes for an entertaining and always beautifully fresh mix of gameplay throughout the story, and also for extreme prejudice and carnage.
As they normally try to do, Rockstar embraces realism and realistic touches in both graphical aptitude and gameplay mechanics and awareness by not only expounding upon beautiful animations and scenes, but by making Max aware of them as well. If you observe Max’s flying trajectories in his various ducks, weaves, and flying dodges, you will notice that he reacts to objects around him in the environment, as well as to enemies nearby. This makes for some truly interesting scenarios when the player causes bodily harm or stuns Max by accident, thus leaving him open for some swift retribution from the games intuitive AI enemies. Rockstar’s realistic approach goes so far as to include cover animations- which are beautiful as well, and the effects that a spray of bullets can have upon the environment. Anything that you shoot in the entire game can react appropriate, and will be destroyed accordingly as well. This makes for some interesting environmental hazards when dealing with the classic explosive objects or falling ones hurtling towards enemies at high speeds.
Ignoring the single player beauty that Rockstar- as always, maanges to craft with a game such as this, if you move on over to the multiplayer modes you are in for quite a wonderful surprise as well. While some might not see Max Payne as being a great bond or mix for multiplayer, adding in simple modes such as deathmatches and a few other takes on classic ones makes for some insane gunfights and setpiece moments. Add in some cool ‘mexican standoff’ type modes and a few other team matches, and you have a pretty strong showing for a multiplayer case- as well as another rich experience for players of all levels and expertise to enjoy.
Keeping in mind the fact that there is also an enormous skill and progression level complete with customization and deep leveling systems, as well as many additions in patches and downloads, the multiplayer is almost even as deep- if not deeper, than the single player campaign is with Max’s journey. Throughout the entire game, no matter what modes you choose to play, grand fun and carnage await you eagerly- and you should embrace them with open arms readily. Who can say that some more of the same is always a bad or terrible idea? Max Payne 3 certainly shows that- with a little bit of polish and a few new friends, this old shooter series can easily get back to its feet again and start whooping ass just like before.
Concept: Max Payne 3 whips out some pistols and blows your brains out with both amazing story ideas and a surprisingly deep multiplayer statistics tracking mode and many creative deathmatch variations to boot.
Graphics: Everything in Max’s newfound world of the Brazilian upper class and underbelly is beautifully rendered- from the mightiest headshot to the amazing helicopter ride to a nightclub. All is just a day in the line of work for Max Payne and his entourage of corpses that seem to follow him just as fast as he can make them.
Sound: The game’s entire framework of voice casting is genuinely amazing, and all of the in-game sounds are exquisitely produced in addition to the soundtrack alongside them.
Playability; New and old mechanics meet and meld together for one of the best shooter experiences I’ve encountered to date, and the best thing is- it’s all more from the same people who constantly produce the industry’s top notch games.
Entertainment: Both the multiplayer and campaign modes leave you wising there were a little more to sate your carnivorous hunger as you continue trying to make your way to the top of the ultra-competitive world leaderboards. Add in a glorious amount of support and a new downloadable expansion pack, and you’ve gotten yourself a marvel and longlasting experience to take up more time than even Call of Duty or whatever other shooters you are playing.
Replay Value: Very High