During July of 2001, Remedy Entertainment introduced the world to a groundbreaking third-person shooter with a sophisticated slow motion gunplay mechanic, mature narrative, and graphic novel stylized presentation. Max Payne ignited the PC gaming culture by breaking the rules of conventional gameplay all while paying homage to the classic action hero movie genre. Once development on Max Payne 2 concluded, Remedy stepped aside to focus on Alan Wake and handed over full creative control of the franchise to the talented team at Rockstar Games. After countless delays, the end result is a phenomenal shooter with an unrivaled cinematic presentation that maintains consistency from beginning to end. Here are a few more reasons why this game is an absolute must buy.
Back in April, I wrote a detailed hands-on article that dove into my experiences having played the demo at PAX East. Needless to say, after playing through the final product I walked away impressed with all the blood, sweat, and tears that went into crafting this masterpiece.
Right from the start of the opening sequence, you’re able to identify an older Max as he deals with all the trials and tribulations of the modern world. Rockstar deserves accolades for putting a unique spin on the series without sacrificing the core elements of gameplay that made the first game a classic.
At the heart of this dark and gritty storyline lies a deeper character study into Max’s ever evolving state of mind. Still visibility broken from the death of his wife and infant daughter, he continues to remain an outsider and seeks refuge through severe bouts of violence and alcoholism.
After taking on a high profile security job and getting caught up in a dangerous scandal, Max sets out to uncover the truth and recapture the broken parts of his life. This effective use of redemption sets apart all the previous entries in the series because it gives a much more humanistic quality to our hero.
From a presentation standpoint, this game easily surpasses some of the best action movie blockbusters Hollywood has to offer. The only real drawback is that you can’t simply skip over any cutscenes while playing.
The idea of using cinematic sequences to bleed into gameplay is absolutely nothing short of brilliant, and both the screen and typography effects compliment Max’s shifty personality as well. The game’s soundtrack is very reminiscent of Michael Mann’s HEAT and carries just the right amount of precision to fit perfectly within the universe.
The campaign clocks in at about 10-12 hours depending on the difficulty setting that you’re comfortable using. There are several unlockables to gain while playing through the story including collectible golden gun types, and level specific grind objectives and clues.
If you don’t feel like replaying the game in its entirety, then you have the option of only playing individual chapters. I would recommend trying out the arcade feature titled New York Minute. This mode gives you 60 seconds to complete a chapter and compete against others for the fastest time finished. The simple and intuitive leaderboard stats are more then enough to persuade competitive gamers to get the most out of this mode.
When it comes to multiplayer, Max Payne 3 offers a stacked set of options that are guaranteed to keep you busy for several hours on end. Gang wars and Payne killer accompany standard modes like single and 16 player team deathmatches. The story structure behind gang wars works by assigning five acts to a matchup and providing commentary to recap the events before and after each act.
Alternatively, Payne killer allows you to play as either Max Payne or Raul Passos after you’ve killed either of the two. The best way to describe it would be to call it a modified version of tag. Overall, the creation of both these modes are impressive feats and set the standard for a highly addictive multiplayer experience.
Max Payne 3 is a top-notch third-person shooter that faithfully revives the Max Payne universe and paves the way for future installments. By focusing on key dynamics like smart storytelling and rich gameplay, Rockstar games has crafted a memorable title and a certifiable game of the year contender. If you’re a fan of action flicks and shooters then do yourself a favor and pick this up ASAP.
This review is based on a retail copy of the Xbox 360 version of Max Payne 3 provided by Rockstar Games.