On the menu today is my review of Max Payne 3. I was given this recently as a gift and what a gift it is. Having never really played either of the first two games I was intrigued by the advertisements on every night up to the point of its release and was looking forward to playing it. (SPOILER ALERT – I will refrain from mentioning too much of the story but be warned I will mention the basics)
STORY – The story starts of with a dialogue & FMV from our anti-hero Max Payne. Like me if you haven’t played any of the other games fear not as this video gives you enough of a back story to get to the events of this game. As well a that there is a backstory summary in the manual. The story is what i would consider two main plots both of which you will have seen or played some derivation of. Basically Max is hired security for a rich family, the Brancos, in Sao Paulo, when the wife of one of the Brancos is kidnapped. The second plot line I will not tell you about as I want you to witness the same light bulb moments that I have throughout the story. It’s a straight forward enough story however it is written very well from start to finish. I also have no favourite level as all of them give you something to go “Cool!” at.
VISUALS – Visually Max Payne 3 is a well designed game from start to finish. It feels as though your watching the story unfold through Max’s eyes but from a third person viewpoint. What I mean is, Max is an alcoholic & painkiller addict, so every so often the screen distorts in some shape or form as if he’s having a “fuzzy” memory which is a nice touch for the game. Levels are big, I mean REALLY big, yet they still maintain integrity as you go through the levels no matter how much chaos is ensuing. FMV’s are the best I have seen in a long time and really help the story develop, mid-gameplay the visuals flow between FMV & gameplay flawlessly. A piece of advice I can give you is to change the aiming reticule. The default white dot makes it hard to pick shots at times, however you can change setting to produce different cross hairs for different guns.
SINGLE PLAYER GAMEPLAY – next up is the gameplay and for me with such a good story this game needed great gameplay and Rockstar do not disappoint, apart from a few problems I will get to. Like most shooters I played this on the highest available difficulty at first play through and it made for an enjoyable experience. The cover system is top quality. Not since Gears of War have I used such a good cover system. You can stick to nearly anything for cover and with blind fire you will surprise yourself with the shots you can pull off. On hard difficulty this saved my ass more than enough times. Shoot dodge is a fantastic piece of gaming mechanics. Simply press the button and a direction and is activates Bullet time whilst diving and shooting your way through what ever stands in front of you. This makes life easy when moving between side by side covers as rolling does not allow you to shoot as accurately if at all. When used correctly you can dive into a room crowded with bad guys and when the “dodge” is complete simply press cover and he will instantly get in cover, again saved my ass more than once. Bullet time is pretty self explanatory press the button slow down time and pick the enemy off. I do have a few problems, first the aiming system. This is fully customisable but finding the right setting is nigh on impossible and I still didn’t get the right setting. Bullet time & Shoot dodge help compensate for a dodgy aim system which takes away from their awesomeness when you have to use it constantly to make up for a dodgy aiming system. Aiming from cover also takes some time to figure out as unlike Gears you have no aiming reticle to see what you are aiming at. The final game mechanic I want to praise & ridicule is Last Man Standing(LMS). Your “medi packs” are pain killers. Have a painkiller on your person when you health depletes and you activate LMS. LMS allows you to have a full clip of your attached gun to put down the opponent who put the final bullet in you. Make the shot and you survive. Miss and its game over. However, a few times the camera didn’t give me a clear shot and I subsequently died. Furthermore with LMS & Shoot dodge the delay in gettting back up can sometimes get you killed but at the same time the delay adds realism as this beaten up alcoholic “Rent a Cop” just dived through the air and/or was nearly killed. Keep dying in parts? The game throws you pain killers, bullet time & some ammo to get by parts hindering you. A cool feature is the last kill cam. Kill the last bad guy in a room and you see him die in slow motion, whilst you can continue to fill him with bullets. Arcade mode is nothing new, your standard replay of the campaign with score targets & New York Minute mode adds a time limit to the fun. All in all a fantastic single player offering.
MULTIPLAYER – Max Payne’s multiplayer offering is nothing new in terms of games modes. You have your standard Deathmatch modes, a “Juggernaut” mode called Payne Killer & Gang war which is five rounds of objective based games. Gang wars is currently my favourite as it gives you variety with what you play in that there are no less than 12 modes which are randomly selected each time. There is also Rookie Deathmatch games which allows you to get a feel for multiplayer against lower levelled opponents. Useful to get a feel for the maps, but don’t expect to run riot as these rookies are very good. As for customisability, it’s styled like Call of Duty in that you have four preset loadouts, then four/five customisable loadouts. The beauty of these are that if you put too much gear in a loadout it will negatively effect your stamina & health regen. In MP, bullet time is replaced with Bursts. A burst is kind of like a Call of Duty Kill streak. Available after a few kills you will have three levels of your burst to work up, each giving you more to work with (P.S. Bullet time is available as a burst). For example I used Trigger Happy. Level one is armour piercing ammo for 20 seconds, level two produces an LMG & Desert Eagle and Level three produces a Grenade Launcher. In games you can Loot dead bodies which provides you with cash, adrenaline or painkillers.The levelling up & unlock system is well done. As you level up you unlock new avatars (playable characters), and gear for loadouts. You also individually level up your weapons which unlocks new attachments for each gun. With the gear however you need to spend cash you have earned through MP game to equip it to your character. There is also the option in games to place bets on certain outcomes of the game. Whilst I have yet to try this it seems like a good idea on paper, making each match more worthwhile to play to win.
SUMMARY – All in all Max Payne is a fantastic game. The story line is well done and had me guessing quite a bit. Unlike some shoot em ups I have played recently this story had me wanting to come back to finish the game even thought I had just died several times at the last section. Visually it is the best that the Xbox can produce. Gameplay is brilliantly designed with some great game mechanics even if they can let you down at times, which can be rather annoying on the harder difficulties as I found out. Arcade mode, whilst nothing new is fun to try out and extends the life of the game by giving you new goals to work towards. Multiplayer, whilst nothing original in terms of game modes or playing style is fun and will have me playing it constantly until Halo 4 is released later the year. What I do love about multiplayer is that you have to completely change your playing style to survive. With no constant refill of bullet time & pain killers you have to keep on your toes to survive
I give Max Payne an 9/10. Rockstar have brought this old icon back to the heavy weight battle for shoot em ups and he packs an almighty punch. Everything is done so well which is the Rockstar way and it always had me coming back for more swearing at the screen when something didn’t go to plan. Gameplay, whilst letting you down at some points does do the game justice in every way. Multiplayer adds life to this game with the game play being thoroughly enjoyable and not as nooby as the likes of COD. If you need a game to boost your gamer score/ trophies, this is not for you as achievements do not come easy. However, If you need a game to fill a void in terms of the Shoot em up market then Max Payne’s blood filled, drug & whiskey addled story & gameplay is what you need in your life.