It’s been years since Rockstar declared Max Payne’s return to next generation consoles. It almost hard to believe the dark hero has come out of hiding, but Max has made a comeback and he is packing. This new title leaves one with the question, can Max Payne 3 revitalize a hero that mastered “The Matrix” style bullet time mode in action games or is it too little too late for Max?
Rockstar is known for many great features in their game play: action, reactions in game play, the atmosphere of the world the gamer is immersed in, and great story telling. In Max Payne 3, Rockstar shows their features are still strong. Max Payne 3 starts off with the protagonist still struggling to move on from the loss of his wife and child in previous titles. Max, now addicted to alcohol and pain killers, relieves himself from an inpatient drug rehab and leaves the New Jersey streets to take on a bodyguard position in Sao Polo, Brazil.
Sadly, the role of a bodyguard for a wealthy Brazilian family isn’t easy for Max. When unknown locals try to kidnap the wealthy family members, it is up to Max to step into the scenes and save the day. This is not so simple when a alcohol and drug addicted ex-cop tries to work through the unfamiliar streets and language of Brazil.
Lucky for Max, there are no language barriers for his guns and bullets.
The game follows a mix of comic book feel and the 24 TV series action multi-camera angles. Max creates powerful monologues as he traverses the storyline, levels, ad his descent into his own mental darkness. As certain characters exchange dialogue, selected subtitles are presented through the storyline to portray the importance of certain dialogue.
This use of selected subtitles creates a feel of what each characters focuses on during the heat of each scene (subtle and aggressive). This keeps you focused on scenes/certain factors without pulling you away from the visuals.
Rockstar utilizes the storyline comic books scenes to hide their load screens in order to prevent the player from feeling like they are forced to stop playing.
As for the action, Max Payne 3 delivers an impressive method of deploying action and style throughout each level. Yes, Max’s bullet time mode is back but it with some new improvements. Shoot dodge allows you to slow time in order to dodge bullets and improve your accuracy.
Final kill camera allows Max to take out the last bad guy in the room with bullet times and dish out those extra few rounds…… for those of you who had a bad day at work.
Bullet time comes into a savior effect when you are low on health. When Max is on the verge of death, and has one last pain killer heal left, bullet time kicks into effect. This implements bullet dodge, bullet time, and quick heal.
Max speed, 360 degree shooting, and agility is dependent on the choice of weapons you equip him with. An example is when Max is using a handgun but has a shotgun in the arsenal. Max will fire his handgun with left hand, yet carrying the shotgun in his right hand. This has an on his reload time and movement since he is carrying two weapons at once. You can find yourself replaying levels with different tactical and weapons approaches.
As for level game play and action, Rockstar doesn’t bore you with mundane and repetitive level designs. The action can shift easily from Max eliminating a group of enemies on a skyscraper rooftop, to him hanging upside down from a helicopter firing, in bullet time, at incoming RPGs and enemies.
Max comes across intense levels where bullet being shot in any direction will create an aftermath seen mainly in films. After a tutorial gunfight, I discovered: blood stains smeared on the walls, floor, and windows, pillows blown up, pages from bullet riddles books spread throughout the floor, and marbles tiles from pillars throughout the interactive chaos.
Max’s dark monologue also interacts with your game play and level. Max will use his inner thoughts to guide you on where you should be going or how much limited time you have left to catch up to an enemy you’re chasing. I activate bullet time when there were no enemies around and Max felt the need to state, “Despite how much I like to reflect on the things around me, there is no time to waste.”
There is also an arcade mode where each kill buys the player points and time to progress through the level. It is an interesting take on the storyline once you finish the game.
While the single player storyline is rich and full of intense moments, dialogues, and scenes, it is best not to reveal too much of the storyline for those Max Payne fans. Multiplayer fans will also get a kick out of online play available.
You have to start off with the basic weaponry, character avatars, and game modes. Once you get past the 50 kills starter perk, other modes and weapons are available. What you do play is intense and thrilling third person multiplayer action. Online game play possesses the same grit and action as in the single player.
Destructible environments are still involved in online play and can be used to your advantage. Getting attacked on a rooftop, shoot a nearby window and drop down to escape or turn the tables.
One particularly interesting mode if the “PAYNE KILLER” mode where the first player to get a kill becomes Max Payne and the first killed become Max’s friend, Raul Passos. Once these to two characters are assigned, everyone else must battle against Max and Raul. If a player kills Max or Raul, that player becomes that character and must fight to stay alive.
In a surprise twist, Bullet time mode has been adapted to online play. The bullet time and bullet dodge mode is shorter in online play and the person you shoot at will have bullet time activated as well. If not executed properly, you can find yourself on the floor as an easy target with no bullets. Choose wisely when you activate bullet time.
Players can earn XP, and cash throughout online play which can be used for leveling up, buying weaponry for load outs, and making wagers as to who will win a game mode before the game begins.
Players can loot the dead bodies of their fellow online combatants for cash, ammo, and any powerful weapons on the ground. A newbie can pick up a powerful handgun left be a veteran player for an unexpected advantage.
Character load outs can be tailored to help you play online to the best of your abilities. Weapons can be leveled up, based on usage, which unlocks accessories and perks for that particular weapon.
The controls for online play have a long handicap for comprehension. Melee attacks are instant kills, but don’t easily execute unless you are extremely close. It will take a few times to get used to throwing a grenade since it has to be selected from the quick weapons load out. This process isn’t so fun when you are going against people who figured out the method to lobbing six grenades your way.
An interesting tease in multiplayer is the kill/death ratio you will have with each individual player in an online match. When a player frags you, the screen will display how many time you fragged that player and who many time the player fragged you. This can help to create an online vendetta when an online player has 10 kills on you as opposed to your 2 kills.
Max Payne 3 contains a great deal of features involved in single player and online play. Despite some requirements to unlock a great deal of online features and handicap control scheme, Max Payne 3 is still a fun and addictive game. The dark storyline and intense action will leave players wanting to go deeper and deeper into the game play.
I give Max Payne 3 a 4 out of 5.