Max Payne 3 Review

Max Payne is an alcoholic, pill-popping, depressed man with a slight chip on his shoulder. That chip wants to shoot every bad guy in the face. In Max Payne 3, you get to do just that in a high octane, stylistic-shooter from Rockstar Games.

Slightly longer nitty-gritty plot description from the Official Website: For Max Payne, the tragedies that took his loved ones years ago are wounds that refuse to heal. No longer a cop, close to washed up and addicted to pain killers, Max takes a job in São Paulo, Brazil, protecting the family of wealthy real estate mogul Rodrigo Branco, in an effort to finally escape his troubled past. But as events spiral out of his control, Max Payne finds himself alone on the streets of an unfamiliar city, desperately searching for the truth and fighting for a way out.

Max Payne 3 is a third person shooter and a slight departure from other Rockstar Games (Rockstar taking over the reins from Max Payne 1 & 2 developer, Remedy). Normally you would expect an open world concept (e.g. Grand Theft Auto & Red Dead Redemption), but thankfully Rockstar stuck to the pattern of the original Max Payne games and kept with a linear level design. Don’t worry though, the levels are jam packed full of over the top action and absolutely impressive set pieces. One minute you’re having a shoot out in a strip joint and the next you’re hanging outside of a bus with a grenade launcher. If variety is the spice of life, than Max Payne 3 is extra spicy.    

The pièce de résistance here is definitely the visuals. Cut scenes ooze with a sort of Michael Mann (e.g. Collateral & Miami Vice) directed flair. You’ll feel like you’re watching a film, which may be a problem for some, as throughout the game you are pushed to the side and forced to watch Max Payne do something, instead of actually doing it yourself. This can be a problem, albeit a small problem due to the fact that when you do take control of Max, the action turns up to 11 and doesn’t let you go till the very end where you’ll be kicked, punched, shot up and swore at.

Sound design is outstanding, with only a few minor audio hiccups (sound occasionally cutting out). James McCaffrey, provides the voice of Max Payne and his stellar voice over work is constantly heard throughout and guides the player though the story. The music, which can range from a mix of latin beats infused with techno, to a soft piano theme is fantastic and provides an increased enjoyment while playing.

Bullet time is back in glorious form, along with shoot dodge. (If you’re a fan of the previous Max Payne games than you’ll know all about bullet time and shoot dodge.) For the newcomers, bullet time grants you the ability to slow down time and allow you to shoot at and hopefully kill multiple enemies. Shoot dodge allows you to, with the press of a button, jump through the air in slow motion and pull off stylistic, almost artful, kill shots. Occasionally throughout the game you’ll have moments where time will automatically slow down and you’ll be tasked in taking out multiple enemies. It’s a thrilling experience to say the least.

The beautiful art of Bullet Time.

The game can be difficult at times, I died plenty, but my deaths were mainly due to my own stupidity (shoot dodging off the side of building was my forte). As long as you go for head shots, you’ll conserve ammo and shouldn’t have to worry to much about restarting. Thankfully, checkpoints are plentiful and you’ll rarely have to worry about restarting a whole level all over again. The game also gives you the options for aim assist with three different choices.  Hard aim, which will strongly focus on enemies when aiming; soft aim, which offers a little more wiggle room, but will still gravitate towards enemies; and finally free aim, which completely turns off aim assist and offers more of a challenge.

Controls are mostly solid with a few slight hiccups. You’ll occasionally get caught up on the geometry, which can be a pain when you’re in the middle of a gun fight and Max’s weapon decides to get stuck and start pointing to the ceiling instead of forward. It’s rare when this happens, but when it does you’ll be singing a slightly different tune (a tune that involves a lot of swearing).

On the multiplayer front, my small foray into a match was interesting, albeit short lived. From what little I did play, I can tell that it was fun and interesting. Bullet time and shoot dodge is utilized during matches and can make for some fun shoot outs with opponents. If you have a bunch of friends to play with, I can say with confidence that you’ll love the multiplayer.

Conclusion time! This game is pretty much the entire package: amazing visuals, outstanding sound design, a captivating story and exhilarating game play that will keep you entertained for the entire 10 or so hours it takes to complete the campaign. By the end of the game, you’ll be so charged from the awesome experience you just had, you’ll be popping pills and drinking whiskey* along side Max. Don’t hesitate on picking this game up, you won’t regret it.

Whiskey with Pills.  Hazardous to one’s hair and taste in clothes.

*Tatlock does not endorse drinking whiskey with pills. Pepsi or Coke, yes.

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