Reviews: Max Payne 3 has our favorite former detective traveling to Brazil, and not to set up for the Olympics. Find out what we thought about his latest.
It’s hard to believe that nine years have passed since Max Payne was last seen running riot on our TV screens. It’s more than a guilty pleasure to finally see the jaw-dropping, pill-popping, heavy-boozing detective make his long awaited comeback call in this, the third instalment of the Max Payne franchise.
Still grieving over the loss of his wife and child at the hands of a band of stoners, Max’s hard-boiled, savage side is as omnipresent as it ever was almost a decade ago. He’s moved to Sao Paulo, working security detail for the stinking rich Rodrigo Branco. He’s gone for the fully shaven Bruce Willis look. When Rodrigo’s wife is taken hostage, Max finds himself hauled back into the world of deception and corruption he had left behind. This is his cue to get suited and booted, whipping out his elbow pads to prepare for for some concrete diving action.
The gameplay features are just as simple as they were a console generation ago with the added extra that you can now find cover - there’s no need to leave yourself open as cannon fodder whilst shooting the heck out of the enemies. Cover is imperative this time, as there’s no regenerating health system. You really must keep your wits about you as you head into a gunfight or you’ll be kicking the bucket more often than Bill Murray in Groundhog Day. Bullet-time is back with a vengeance, as is Shoot-Dodge, and there’s a wicked kill-cam. It kicks into action as that final bullet leaves the barrel of your gun and torpedoes through the gun-wielding enemy.
There is a lot of narrative throughout the game, which I’m sure could turn a fair few players off, particularly for plug-and-play action junkies. I really cannot fault the route Rockstar Games has chosen though, as excellent voice acting and cut-scenes are a pleasure to watch. It's all amazingly structured to create one heck of a Hollywood blockbuster storyline.
Max Payne 3's lavish arsenal of weapons adds up to a Payne-inducing weapons list. You get a chance to carry two side-arms and a two-handed weapon. If Max is not carrying the latter he can dual-wield any combination of one-handed weapons. The fire fights will leave you salivating, as you see glass shatter and paper shred in fully-destructible environments.
The single-player campaign mode should provide a good 10 to 15 hours of entertainment depending on which difficulty level you opt for. A couple of Arcade modes have also been included to tide over those lacking an internet connection. New York Minute mode is a great addition in which you play through the campaign in a race against the clock. Each level starts with a 5 minute timer, with you earning precious time killing enemies and there really is no better way to “kill time.”
Rockstar Games is renowned for making stunning, free-roaming games, but Max Payne 3 takes a more strictly scripted route. It is now nigh impossible to lose your way and you always know who needs a bullet putting in them. Along with the Arcade modes adding an element of replayability to the single-player campaign both completionists and cheevo/trophy hunters are in for a real treat. Over 40 unique in-game challenges and accomplishments span across both the single-player story and multiplayer.
What I certainly didn’t have high hopes about was the multiplayer. There had been a string of games with bullet-time to feature multiplayer, but not to very much success. Stranglehold is a fine example of this with its Tequila time. That game was so focused on action and style that you didn’t even get to reload weapons to keep the flow of shootouts fast and frenetic. As a result, it was fun, until I reached the 20 minute mark.It was only natural then, that I was wary of Rockstar Games being able to do much better. I’m happy to say I was pleasantly surprised. It definitely lets players of the leash compared to the narrative based story mode and plotlines have even been intertwined in the gameplay, with Rockstar daring to go where no other multiplayer feature has dared go before. That’s not to say it's not without its flaws. Multiplayer is packed with various modes, and whilst I can’t imagine this being played to death in five to six months time, it is worth a shot. It’s always hard when a video game series, so renowned for its single-player, decides to implement a multiplayer mode. Regardless of this, it is just the way most games are going now. Multiplayer alone is the be all and end all for many gamers when it comes to deciding whether to purchase or give it a miss nowadays. Given Rockstar Games’ “diving in at the deep end” approach with the innovative multiplayer narrative inclusion I’d say it’s worth splashing out your hard earned dough.
Gang Wars is the marquee mode in multiplayer. You play as a member of a gang, with other players, pitted against another gang with the objectives being to complete set tasks such as defusing bombs or assassinating a gang member. Once an objective has been completed, branching storylines will alter the next objective based on the outcome of the previous round. Gang Wars consist of five rounds with the final round always being a gun-wielding death match.
Payne Killer lets two players take control of Max Payne and his sidekick Raul Passos. Both players will be stacked to the hill with pain killers making it much harder for an opposing gang to kill them. Should a member of the gang manage to kill Max or Raul then that player will take control of whichever character they killed.
Max Payne 3 boasts some stellar gameplay, a cracking story and more than intriguing characters to boot. The only two pitfalls are that Rockstar Games has been a little too heavy-handed with the narrative, and I would have liked a tad more freedom like we experienced in LA Noire and GTA. The single-player campaign is such a blast, you really won’t be too vexed by the constant banter in cut scenes as it really is a necessary addition to the plot. Multiplayer, even though I can't see it building much of a fan base, is an exciting new feature with interesting new modes. Max Payne games have been known for their bullet-time gameplay, but, thankfully, the protagonist has aged like a good bottle of wine and Max Payne 3 proves that the series hasn’t slowed down one bit.