The World of Third-Person Shooters has often been classified based upon how one game differentiates itself from the next. When describing Max Payne 3, you’re talking about a sophisticated tactical shooter with a cinematic presentation that surpasses most Hollywood blockbuster movies today. Rockstar Games has set out to create the most definitive Max Payne experience and based upon the early buzz they have succeeded in more ways then one.
During PAX East 2012 I had an opportunity to participate in an exclusive gameplay and Q and A session for the game. Here are a few of my thoughts on the briefing and why I feel Max Payne 3 could very well be the best shooter out this year.
The premise behind Max Payne 3 takes place roughly a few years after the events of the first two games. Max is visibly older and slightly more reckless then ever before as he seeks comfort in alcoholism and painkiller addiction. After leaving New York City, Max takes a job in Brazil working security for the wealthy Branco family. When Mr. Branco’s wife is kidnapped by a local street gang, Max’s world spirals out of control as he exhausts all efforts to get her back.
The demo that I played takes place late in the first portion of the game. While roaming the dark alleyways and shops of Brazil, my goal was to track down a lead on the whereabouts of Mr. Branco’s wife. Once the actual combat started, I was surprised of just how faithful these mechanics were in relation to the original Max Payne game.
Essentially the run and gun aesthetics remain fully intact and require more strategy on your part if your aim is to survive. The traditional use of cover to dodge incoming attacks doesn’t become repetitive because the enemy A.I. is always smart enough to come after you. By the same comparison, you can’t just engage in a direct firefight without being gunned down in the process.
Therefore, the only true way to play the game is to use Bullet-time mechanics as part of a balanced attack with the occasional roll and dodge options. Shooting enemies in either the head or any other vital organs instantly causes your bullet-time meter to rise faster. Surprisingly, the environment that you play in can also trigger bullet-time animations and create for a more dynamic look and feel to the game. Also at your disposal are painkillers that can be used cautiously to get yourself out of tight spots.
When it comes to shooting, Max Payne 3 features both over-the-shoulder zoom aiming and 360 degrees shooting while on the ground. There is a weapon wheel that allows you to equip 2 weapons at a time.
One aspect that is noticeably different about this in comparison to other shooters in that Max is shown actually holding the second weapon in his hand while fully navigating through the area. This may not mean much to many, but it’s the important details like this that make this sequel a serious gamechanger for the genre as a whole.
Graphically, Max Payne 3 is one of the best looking games in the series. The campaign is seamlessly integrated from gameplay to cutscene and carries absolutely no load times. The combination of both the RAGE and Euphoria engines create an unrivaled quality in both form and function.
Another noteworthy mention is that voice actor James McCaffrey returns and contributes full acting through the use of motion capture. The end result is an extremely realistic take on the Max Payne universe and a passionate love letter to all of the fans that have been patiently waiting for this game since 2009.
If you never got a chance to check out the Multiplayer Video, I also managed to learn another tidbit about the mode. In addition to using bullet-time within Multiplayer, the dynamics are based heavily on line of sight. You’ll be able to determine who triggered bullet-time the minute that you turn a corner. This works whether someone on your team or the other team uses it and would therefore aid in revealing your location. While this mode wasn’t yet available to tryout, the concept sounds superb and could very well become the framework for how multiplayer is approached in GTA V.
Overall, Max Payne 3 is shaping up to be not only one of the best games in the series but a strong candidate for Game Of The Year. With a story that is expected to have several twist and turns coupled with challenging combat, it’s hard to ignore the fact that this game is destined to become a classic.
Max Payne 3 releases on May 15st (in North America) and May 18th (in Europe) for the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. The PC version will hit retail on May 29th (in North America) and June 1st(in Europe).