I never played the first two Max Payne games. There’s no particular reason for that other than I simply never came across them. From what people have told me, they were fun, if a bit silly. Now Rockstar has taken over and brought out a third game, but its a bit different from what I was expecting.
The titular Max Payne, (and what a name that is, it’s right up there with Justin Credible) an ex-cop turned private investigator, is washed up, drunk in a bar in New York. An old friend shows up and offers him a job working as private security in sunny Sao Paulos, working for the super-rich Branco family. He accepts, mainly because everybody in New York wants him dead, and the only things keeping him there are his wife and daughter six feet under in a local cemetery.
Graphically, the game is stunning, when you can see it. Sao Paulo is both beautifully lush and squalidly ramshackle. The character models are all excellent, and Max changes his appearance frequently over the course of the game. The game’s visuals have a strangely hallucinagenic quality to them, as Max finds himself in various states of alcoholic and drug-related intoxication. The cop/crime movie influences are readily apparently, from the setting to the way important pieces of dialogue appear as text on screen.
The gameplay is tight, particularly the gunplay, although the game seems to be less about leaping through the air all guns blazing as it is about hiding behind chest high walls taking pot shots at enemies. The only times the slow-mo gunning parts really work is when the game mandates them. The shooting is sharp, although enemies are bullet-sponges even on easy difficulty- oh, and Max has an annoying habit of getting captured every ten minutes and having his guns taken away.There are a few sections of the game I ended up stuck on, but every time you die the game revives you with extra ammo and painkillers so as to make things a little easier on you. And so long as you have painkillers, you can survive an otherwise fatal wound by entering ‘last man standing’ mode, where you’ll survive just so long as you can kill the guy who shot you.
There’s a story, and it’s pretty good, but not really something you need necessarily follow when all you want is to get to the next person to shoot. It’s the usual story of betrayal, failure and shooting more people than any one person in real life has ever managed.
Max Payne 3 is an enjoyable distraction, but has little replay value. Worth a rental, might be worth a full purchase is you enjoy the multiplayer mode.