The return of Max Payne to consoles is a welcomed addition to many a gamers collection having grown tired now of the zombie fest, first person shooter’s or churned out sports infested same-old-same generic titles year in, year out…it’s about time something came to along to break up the monotony of predictable sequels. Max Payne has made quite an entrance on the Xbox 360, shifting more than 3 million copies in its first week of sales according to Take-Two Interactive…
Max Payne 3, is a story-driven cinematic filled experience in epic proportions that would give Hollywood a run for its money in producing action packed scenes brimming with bullet dodging manoeuvres and near death instances to get your heart rate going. It’s memorable, exciting, thrilling; combining episodes of stealth and tactics as your survival instincts – the Max Payne 3 campaign journey is both about the objective of protecting the wealthy and your own tested will to live. Depicting varied states of mental health, addictions to alcohol and pain killers, you also travel to Brazil following the loss of your loved ones and now that Max Payne is no longer a cop, travelling to Brazil is also the start of a new life in a bid to escape the troubled past that lingers in the back of your mind constantly. It’s a realistic story, albeit far-fetched in very over-the-top dramatics with very mature narrative and gritty crime-drama presentation.
If you’ve never played a Max Payne game before, or have completely forgotten the plot since it was around 2003 when Max Payne 2 hit retail, you will be able to pick up on the story very quickly. The bulk of the game takes place in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and other parts take place in New York as max reflects on the events of his past life experiences. Segments of the past come back to haunt you in small cut-scenes between chapters, but since this is mostly about the new story and new life in Brazil, the past is focussed around the events that caused you to leave your old life behind rather than a direct continuation. Those segments feel as though they are only there to keep you up to speed on the how and why’s… how Max ended up with his addictions and why he’s currently involved in situations that spiral out of control – a quest to save his boss and his bosses model wife.
Unlike Rockstar Games other smash-hit titles, Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead Redemption, Max Payne 3 is a third person, more linear story with very little room for exploration unless you’re intentionally trying to find hidden spots to look for clues, or segments of Golden Guns scattered throughout the chapters. The game starts out in glamorous and wealthy settings of the rich and famous, before you are dragged through the mud so to speak in gangland territory. Unfortunately every chapter may look different in its very detailed, glorious surroundings, but every scene is a dramatic shoot-to-kill segment of cover, dodge, shoot, kill… go a little further and repeat. The journey of the campaign mode is broken down into three main parts each with their own lengthy chapters, while the thoughts of what’s going on in Max Payne’s head seems to be the only narrative except for when he has a partner in crime to assist. It’s as much about completing his duties as well as a journey of self-discovery for an aging action hero. There’s never a dull moment, but the repeated efforts of never a dull moment around every corner hinders away from the plot – you could easily forget the purpose of your mission. It’s heavy on the shooting, just-right on the cinematics to seamlessly guide you through the story, but quite dry on narrative and objectives.
You tend to start missions with very basic pistol weapons and rifles with the option of collecting dropped enemy weapons and ammo from those you down. You choose your range of weaponry which can be anything from hand-guns, SMG’s, LMG’s , shotguns, sniper rifles and assault rifles – but it should be noted that unless you like the classic Max Payne aiming reticle of a small white dot, you should switch to Weapon Specific reticles in the options settings. The aiming can be a bit hit and miss too, with enemies seeming to require a hefty round of bullets before being downed unless you can perfectly aim for their head. Max Payne on the other hand can’t withstand the same amount of damage in return and you will die very quickly if you’re not using the cover system as a timed advantage between each round you shoot. Don’t expect the game to be an easy walkthrough, as even on the easier settings can prove to be quite a difficult survival challenge, but your limited supply of Pain Killers can be used to increase your health.
Bullet Time also returns in Max Payne 3, and while it was invented and first used in the movies – (think back to The Matrix), Rockstar Games were the first developers to introduce the slowed down mechanics of bullet penetration into games with the original Max Payne many years ago. It’s as if time has slowed down completely to enable you to accurately aim the perfect headshot whilst performing timed moves to dodge the enemy’s oncoming bullets. It’s one of the best ways to protect yourself from a stream of ammunition heading straight for your brain, but with limited time and usage it should be used wisely rather than abused in situations where it might otherwise not really be needed.
The campaign is great, but you’re likely to have already played a better story elsewhere. The visual quality looks perfectly polished and it is extremely enjoyable to watch and play as the story is an unravelling collection of cinematic sequences where your input in the game is more of an interactive movie.
Multiplayer; the first time any multiplayer has been a major part of the Max Payne franchise is where the game truly stands out. It has some of the greatest online modes around that should keep you hooked for quite some time. Addictive, challenging and right up there with some of the world’s already best known games as a perfect rivalry – Max Payne 3’s Multiplayer is outstanding.
The Multiplayer playlists consist of classic familiar modes featured in many other games such as Team Deathmatch, Deathmatch, Large Team Deathmatch and Hardcore Team Deathmatch – a simple principle of kill or die! Newer game types such as Gang Wars and Payne Killer allow for some further intensive multiplayer action as a combo of Deathmatch and objective based gameplay online. Gang Wars is a 5 part objective based team gameplay scenario where the first four lead up to the main decided, always a Team Deathmatch to determine the winner. Payne Killer on the other hand is a form of what would be best known as Halo’s Juggernaut mode – One player becomes Max Payne or Raul from the campaign and it upon killing these characters that you then get become them to rage havoc and hit a great killing spree as both characters are more powerful than any other with their weaponry and health.
There’s also a great range of customisation options in Max Payne 3’s Multiplayer that doesn’t get unlocked until after you’ve ranked up a few times. Loadout options allow you to select your weapon choices up to three per player, as well as equipping attachments, carrying grenades, special armour types and extra ammunition. You also get to choose your own form of Multiplayer Perk ‘Burst’ which can give you anything from more firepower, Bullet Time, appear as friendly to enemies and intuition to locate enemies around you.
To earn extra XP aside from just shooting enemies you can participate in challenges known as ‘Grinds’ – this requires you to perform or complete certain requirements in the online multiplayer to complete your Grind and earn the XP. This could be anything from set number of kills, using all the weapons, and playing well in all the modes available.
Although there are not a huge selection choice of maps within the multiplayer element either when playing in public or private matches as it consists of just 6 at the moment, they are all quite large scale offering a vast amount of internal and external locations to explore.
Max Payne 3 is an excellent offering from Rockstar Games and although the campaign has some of the best cinematic moments in gaming history, giving a seamless integration between each cut-scene and the story – it’s also well presented, but lacks a decent amount of objectives. Just shooting from one location to the next may not bode well with everyone despite its jaw dropping high res visual quality. Multiplayer is a masterpiece and you will soon forget the campaign to enjoy some of the best quality shoot-outs over Xbox LIVE time and time again.