Max Payne 3

The Next Game Will Start in 436 Minutes

We have internal monologues of our own while playing Max Payne 3!
Author: Scott Rodgers
Published: May 24, 2012
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I have always maintained that Max Payne is one of the best video game characters ever to exist. From the events of the first game to his inevitable fall Max has seen and done a lot. Nothing ever seems to go right for thIS guy and he is always hitting the proverbial iceberg. Sure, you can say that his latest job in Max Payne 3 couldn’t have come at a better time. Getting out of New Jersey was probably one the better things to happen to him. Even though he found himself on another continent shooting at people at least he could understand just what was going on.


Ah, but things aren’t as they seem. What looked like a vacation and simple security job above water housed a far more devious plot below.

If there is one thing that Rockstar does better than anyone else on the planet, it’s crafting a virtual world. Just this generation they brought us a reinvented Liberty City as well as New Austin, West Elizabeth, and Nuevo Paraiso in Red Dead Redemption. Max Payne 3 is no different and São Paulo may be the most impressive yet. Even though it isn’t open ended like the others you see a world with multiple layers. From the high life on yachts and in corporate towers to the slums among the poor, Max sees everything that the largest city in Brazil has to offer. I constantly found myself gazing at stopping to look at the environment and checking out the details. Few games are able to make me stop dead in my tracks and heed my progress just to look at things and this is one of them.

As far as the story goes, Max meets up with a man named Raul Passos. These two went through their academy days together and Passos wants to help his friend and stop him from drinking himself into the grave. This is how Max gets out of New Jersey and involved in Brazil. There are 14 levels in the campaign and it will take roughly take 12 or so hours to complete. I am factoring in the fact that you will be repeating a lot of sequences because the game is brutally difficult. Max seems to be made of paper and the game refuses to hold your hand in any way. This is both good and bad, because it is nice to see a game that is challenging and refuses to back down. Even on the easier difficulties enemies are still quite formidable and if you aren’t smart you will get yourself killed. The AI loves to flank and always has the numbers advantage so it is imperative that you keep your back to a wall whenever possible.

I know that the cutscenes are a bit controversial. Many people find the motion comics to be grating. To be blunt, I have to side with those folks. The words being pulled out and displayed on screen for extra emphasis did nothing for me. The constant blurring gave me a headache and I kept wishing that I could skip them (though they’re just cleverly disguised loading screens). Even though Max’s schtick may wear thin after a few hours, I did find myself interested in what he had to say. James McCaffrey did an excellent job once again voicing the character and made listening to the internal monologuing not only bearable, but enjoyable. Thank goodness they didn’t drag Mark Wahlberg back into this.

Having said that, the game did frustrate me enough that I cranked down the difficulty just to get through the tougher parts. I constantly found myself getting one shot by enemies with perfect aim and reflexes greater than mine. Bullet time is a great equalizer to this but there were times which even that couldn’t get me past the eight to ten goons who were coming straight for me with shotguns and SMGs. Diving from cover to cover while shootdodging quickly becomes your best friend while also making you feel like a total badass. There are also special on rail sequences, which feature Max doing insane stuff straight out of an action flick. Being able to quickly access your weapon wheel (though enemies can still fire on you!) and swap to something with more ammo on the fly is another plus.

The thing is, though, that the single player seems to abandon this about halfway through. Instead of diving from cover to cover like a maniac you are forced to turtle behind specific pieces of cover. There are scenes where Max bumbles his way into something and sets off an entire group, forcing you to deal with his mess. Other times you see Max crouch behind cover only for things to pan out and for you to see that that is your only cover. I don’t understand why Rockstar chose to go away from the crazy, frenetic action and towards a cover based shooter but they did. Finishing up the campaign allows you to play New York Minute, one of the two arcade modes (Score Attack is the other one, it just focuses on racking up multipliers). New York Minute, in a way, almost operates sort of like a tutorial. You have one minute and each kill adds time to the clock with headshots adding a little bit more. This teaches you to get in the habit of timing your bullet time properly and to improve when and where you’re diving. It also irons out bad habits (such as my excellent strategy of “dive directly at all of the gunfire”).
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