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It has been over a decade since we first encountered Max Payne in July of 2001, and nearly as long since our last meeting, and for Max Payne fanatics, it seemed even longer. Even though the series had seem to fade away into the infinite abyss, fans of the beloved antihero thirsted for more. Now, Rockstar Games has had their hand in the Max Payne franchise for quite a while, but never have they ventured on their own to develop and publish a Max Payne title without the help of Remedy Entertainment. After Rockstar announced that it would venture back into the drug addicted, alcoholic induced mind of Max Payne, many feared out what may become of the once popular franchise. But rest assured, from the moment you begin your journey through Max Payne 3, you get the distinct feeling that Rockstar Games, sans the Finnish developer, hit another home run. Now that the introduction is out of the way, lets continue with the basics.
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In Max Payne 3, you begin, more or less, as a personal security detail for a very rich and famous South American family known as the Brancos. The Brancos are a trio of brothers that include; Victor, a successful politician, Rodrigo, a wealthy businessman, and Marcelo, a party crazed socialite. During a small cocktail party on the roof of the Branco family’s skyscraper, one that just so happens to overlook the most poverty stricken areas of Sao Paulo, a group of masked terrorists burst through the doors in search of the Branco brothers. After an attempted kidnapping of both Rodrigo and his main squeeze Fabiana, Max and his partner, Raul Passos, discover that the party crashers belonged to street gang Commando Sombra. From there, the games takes you through the ‘highs” and lows of the life of Max Payne. The endless nights of binge drinking and pill popping have yet to heal the wounds his departed family has left behind, and each day seems harder than the next for Max. Between getting drunk and drinking more, Max seems to have let another kidnapping take place, only this time at a popular nightclub. This time, Commando Sombra is successful in acquiring Fabiana, and Max is left to try and pick up the pieces. The game continues to take you on a journey through Sao Paulo in search of Fabiana. Soccer stadiums, abandoned boat yards, and even a little New Jersey flashback are some of the locals from the first act alone. Overall, the story is great, and fans of the series will appreciate the references to the previous installments of Max Payne, as well as the vivid and painful story lead writer, Dan Houser, and his team have created.
Graphics and Visuals
The look and atmosphere of Max Payne 3 is incredible. The graphics are nothing that we haven’t seen from this current generation of consoles, but that is to be expected with Rockstar developed games. The game may have been released near the end of this generations life cycle, but it definitely did not push the bounds of visual technology. With that being said, the graphics were still above par, and the Tony Scott style effects during the incoherent drug binges were a very welcome touch. Occasionally, you will come across some cut scenes that feature key words being visually displayed throughout the screen. Most of them are important to the story, but some are just there to add some ‘kick’ to the overall story. The best part of the game, however, are the slow motion kill cams and bullet time, but more on those later.
Audio and Sound
The music in Max Payne 3 is excellent. The sharp tones during moments of uncertainty help to build the tension. As far as the narration is concerned, James McCaffery reprises his role as Max Payne, offering some nostalgia for those that have played previous titles. The dialogue may seem cheesy and over the top at times, but it works. Occasionally, Max will utter a one liner worthy of a B rated action flick. Such instances occur when you come across pills during the game (pills are what regenerate your health, just like previous Max Payne titles), or progress to the next checkpoint. Other than that, the game fires on all cylinders audibly.
Now, time to talk slow motion gameplay. The bullet time feature is just as it has always been, you jump out, activate the bullet time feature, begin mayhem. No matter how simplistic, or how redundant the feature has become over the past few years, the bullet time feature has been such an awakening. The newer addition to the slow motion killing department is the new slow motion kill cam. What this does is that during your encounter with the last enemy in a specific area, the slow motion kill feature will be in effect. After you kill this last enemy, you are taken immediately into the slow motion kill cam mode. Here, you can watch slowly as someone you have just murdered is repeatedly filled with lead, all the while you are controlling the speed of the person’s death by slowing the kill cam using the appropriate button presses. As far as single player is concerned, the gameplay is excellent, sometimes the aiming can get a bit wonky, but that is to be expected from a Rockstar developed game. This can also be avoided by using soft and hard auto target locks that the game allows you to chose as opposed to the free aim mechanic. Multiplayer is a welcoming surprise, as the matches are quick and packed full of action. There is nothing really new about the way Rockstar has introduced the multiplayer into Max Payne, but the online gameplay feels surprisingly fresh and strongly increases the replay value of the title. Like most online multiplayer games that have been released in the past five years, the game features tons of unlockable guns and characters which become available upon reaching certain levels.
Max Payne 3 is an excellent game. It may have warranted more attention if it hadn’t tried to compete with the simultaneously released mega hit, Diablo III. Regardless, for console gamers, Max Payne 3 was the major release for the month of May. The title has been met with critical acclaim aw well as great user feedback. The game also utilizes the Rockstar season pass, in which you can purchase all of the future downloadable content for a one time transaction at a discounted price. It has been discussed that there would be somewhere near seven future content plans and that the season pass would save you just above 35%. So keep that in mind if you want to add some more longevity to your Max Payne 3 experience. For those who are interested in the Max Payne 3 Season Pass, it would be 30 bucks. Overall, the game is amazing. The environment and atmosphere created by Rockstar can easily dump you into the hectic and drug riddled world of Max Payne. Rockstar does an amazing job here of using visuals and audio to tell an amazing story, and the unique camera angles and visual effects layered on top of the cinematic cut scenes gives the game a little more edge and mystery. And when it comes to the gameplay, forget about it. Nothing is cooler than jumping from behind cover in slow motion, and blasting four dudes to pieces before they even have a chance to pull the trigger. That is why Gaming Irresponsibly gives Max Payne 3 a final score of:
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- Great Audio
- Fun Multiplayer
- Involving Story
- Bullet Time/ Slow Mo
- Drugs and Booze
- Excellent Use of Visual Effects
- Dialogue Seems Cheesy Sometimes
- Free Aim Has Small Issues