If you’re Max Payne, life is kind of ridiculous. Any peaceful or serene moment in Max’s life seems to always lead to a barrage of bullets exploding from a gun.
No matter your depth of knowledge in the Max Payne series, Max Payne 3 pulls you in and doesn’t let go. The story is told through various points of Max’s life, all of which blend together and give you a brilliant story. Max’s alcohol-influenced decisions lead you through events that can only be burned in your mind. While some games struggle to be considered “art”, Max Payne 3 does nothing but raise the bar.
The opening portion of the title serves as mostly a basis for you to get a pulse on each character and give you a grasp of the controls. You’re introduced, or re-introduced for the veterans, to the concept of bullet time. Gamers looking to play Max Payne 3 like a traditional shooter will soon learn to do otherwise.
Bullet time rewards you for taking out your enemies by giving you a specific amount of time to temporarily slow down time. While some events have this automatically triggered, bullet time comes in handy when you’re approached with an intense situation filled with goons. Clicking the right analog stick or hitting the RB/R1 button will allow you to slow down time while standing or while diving, respectively. While it may sound gimmicky, Rockstar found a great balance in the mechanic that never takes away from the experience.
Adding to the cinematic approach is the “final kill” mechanism. In a movie-style approach, killing the last bad guy in a room or certain section triggers an up-close view. The fain of heart need not watch these, as you’ll see bullet holes rip through your target in a dynamic way. Love violence? Holding the A/X button allows you to slow down the scene and continue to rip holes in your target. It’s an interesting approach, but gives you a satisfying feel to finishing a level and the feeling that you’re the director in this video game.
Even though you have these mechanics at your disposal, you will die in Max Payne 3. Collecting “pain killers” in the game will save you from having to start over at a specific checkpoint. If you take the maximum damage but still have a pain killer, the game will slow down and highlight the enemy that last shot you. You’ll have a few seconds to line up your reticule and hit the opponent. It sounds easy enough, but you’ll find yourself blocked by certain objects or out of bullets entirely. This mechanic keeps you in the game, and more importantly, the action.
Max Payne serves as a bodyguard to a rather rich family in the game, and as you guessed it, finds himself in a bit of trouble. After failing to protect the family, you’ll find yourself tearing through São Paulo trying to get them back. As Max delivers his thoughts through your speakers, a connection is made between you and the character on screen through his journey.
The beauty of Max Payne 3 is that even the “over-the-top” elements of the campaign feel grounded. The story delivers a tale that’s one of the better ones you’ll see this generation and a character that you can connect with. Certain visual effects or flares can break the immersion at times, however, as they’re overdone at points. However, the game never stops feeling like a AAA experience.
Max Payne 3 also offers a multiplayer experience that features crews, loadouts, characters, and tons of in-game unlocks to earn. While quite a few gamers will pick up the game for the singleplayer campaign, the multiplayer portion should not be overlooked.
While it’s not groundbreaking, it is definitely easy to pickup. However, it’ll be quite more difficult for you to master than you may initially think. Gamers spawn as one of the many families or factions encountered within the game, depending on the game mode.
The majority of the maps are enjoyable, but a few will become camp fests. Rockstar implemented random spawn points to help eleviate any issues of spawn points that may have occurred. With each spawn, you’re typically placed in an area where you can strategically made a good move against your opponents. It’s a rare feat in multiplayer games that should be applauded.
In a match, you’ll be rewarded for racking up a few kills and assists. Just like in singleplayer, you’ll start to earn a higher level in your bullet time meter. The bullet time meter in multiplayer features three tiers, each of which has a bigger bonus. After progressing through a few ranks, you’ll be able to unlock different bonuses that affect either just your character or multiple characters on your team. A popular chosen bonus is the grenade launcher when you hit the third tier and activate the bullet time meter. It’s great to use when enemies are pinned in a certain section and your team needs to play a little catch up.
Max Payne 3 also offers an Arcade portion of the game which allows you to replay certain segments to race against time and/or score points. Leaderboards are available between friends, globally, and crews. It’s great for the achievement or trophy whore to play, and not a bad way to pass some time. It ultimately is a mode that won’t get a ton of attention, but deserves to at least have a few of the missions played. Max Payne 3 does feature quite a few memorable scenes, however, and fans can easily visit them going through this route.
Max Payne 3 combines action and attachment to a single character that you don’t even customize. In a world of explosions and sequels, Max Payne 3 should truly be valued as a gem. If you’re even remotely a fan of the shooter genre, you owe it to yourself to pick up Max Payne 3 for a memorable experience.
Max Payne 3 was developed by Rockstar Vancouver and published by Rockstar Games. An Xbox 360 copy was provided for the purpose of review.