After nine years of hibernation, Max Payne is now seeing the light of day again with Max Payne 3 from Rockstar Games. The franchise has always been seen as a staple for its innovative story telling and the gamplay which some may say is where the Slow Motion feature originated from with many games following in its footsteps when it came to that style of gameplay. No matter, as it was well done and both Max Payne 1 & 2 were given great reviews as they should have been. Max Payne is a cop or ex-cop rather, who had to deal with the death of his wife and daughter, while as his name suggest, coping with it was what created the character as well as the franchise, as he brutally stepped outside the boundaries of police protocol. In Max Payne 3 we see a slightly different side of Max, while the old Max is most definitely there, he goes through somewhat of a transformation as he tries to find out where is at in his life and where he belongs.
The game begins where the game ends for the most part and after flashing back to what may be the beginning of the story of Max Payne 3, you are often taken back in time to help understand the entire story better as Max fits together what is really going on. We are used to seeing Max Payne bash peoples heads in windows as he literally inflicts pain on anyone caught in his path to seeking justice, at first for the murder of his wife and child. Now there is plenty of kicking ass in the game, however since the end of the last game (Max Payne 2), our main character has not coped well with the loss of his family as the story begins with him in a drunken haze, washed down with many painkillers just to try and not feel anything at all. As the story evolves he is found stuck in a web of deceit, where all along he is just trying to find justice. After just barely living through many firefights, the story begins to shift as does Max. He begins to make an attempt to look at things from a more clear perspective as it would not be wrong to say the he starts to have a mid-life crisis.
Out of this comes a transformation of our character as you can tell just by seeing some of the images as the different looks are not all just for show. This change in Max is tied into the story of the game as the beginning has us playing a character who is an alcoholic, pill popping mess that is depressed as he narrates in a pessimistic way. Max narrates through the entire game, even making statements here and there for nearly every little thing you do from picking up a bottle of pain killers (which basically serve at health/extra life), to action you choose to do in the game. Although I speak of this transformation of Max, this does not change the fact that he is an ex-cop/freelance for hire (whatever you wish to call him at this point) that is one bad ass mo… well you do not want to mess with him. This is a staple of his character and it will always be one, as is the voice of Max Payne with James McCaffrey taking on the role of voicing the character for yet a third time. The story of Max Payne 3 is a complex one that stretches over 2 discs long on the Xbox 360 version and this complex story needs a complex Max, as once again he is trying to find himself but at the same time is just trying to do his job.
Max Payne 3 takes place in Sao Paulo, Brazil but starts off in Hoboken, New Jersey where Max thinks is what getting away from New York City is even though it’s right across the river. Although Brazil is where the main story takes place, flashbacks bring you back to the city and all over Sao Paulo, Brazil. Throughout the game you learn of and meet many different factions as well as important people, politically as well as to the storyline. The game uses the RAGE Engine/Physic system which graphically is impressive when it comes to the lighting and colors, while detail is given much more to actual gameplay then the cut-scenes. One of the most impressive aspects of the gameplay were the AI and how the reacted differently to everything you did, as well as how unpredictable they actually were. I am sure everyone is used to sitting there with the cross-hair over where an enemy will pop up from cover instantly killing them, but it is not that way in Max Payne 3 as enemies will literally sometimes hide forever waiting for you to make the mover, while others will randomly come charging at you.
There are plenty of weapons to have fun with in the game from grenade launchers to revolvers to high-caliber snipers, along with guns with attachments from silencers to red dot sights which let you aim in first person mode in a third person game. You can carry three weapons at once; 2 one-handed weapons (pistols, etc.) and 1 two-handed weapon (assault rifle, etc.). However once you choose to dual wield two weapons, you are forced to drop the two-handed weapon and this is because Max uses one hand to carry the two-handed weapon when not using it. Although he has dual holsters at all times, apparently Brazil has never heard of gun straps. Max Payne 3 has a cover system that works extremely well as it is smooth and I never had an issue getting to cover, jumping over it or any other issues with it. When you have no more health as it does not regenerate, and you are shot, you go into Last Stand as long as you have a bottle of painkillers. In this most everything goes into slow motion as you are given a chance to shoot the enemy that downed you, triggering a slow motion bullet camera once you successfully shoot at the enemy.
These slow motion bullet cams are brutally awesome, especially on a headshot where you see the bullet not just enter the enemy’s head, but open up a gaping, gushing wound the size of a baseball. If you keep shooting during a bullet cam animation you will see how each bullet affects the enemies reactions and you can even control the speed of the bullet cam once triggered. You can also trigger these when shooting the last enemy in that general area (letting you know it is clear) or if you melee an enemy by hitting the trigger button when up close to them. After giving them a couple of slaps you blow a hole in their head. You can also enter ‘Shoot-Dodge’ Mode, which allows you jump or dodge in literally any direction in slow motion letting you take your time picking off enemies with an awesome advantage. This action uses up your adrenaline bar also and you can simple click down on the right stick to enter slow motion bullet time while standing still which uses up your adrenaline bar as will. This can fill up again by killing enemies. Collectables in the game consist of golden gun parts and clues. Once you collect all of the golden gin parts for a weapon, it will then always be gold for you when you use it, even in multiplayer!
With Max Payne 3 it is not likely that you will get bored as the game has endless replay value. The game has multiple difficulty settings which are Easy, Medium, Hard, Hardcore as well as Old School with the last mode being the hardest and the last three difficulty modes you must use Free Aim. There is Hard Aim, Soft Aim and Free Aim which are pretty self-explanatory with Hard Aim making nearly impossible to miss a shot. Hardcore and Oldschool modes are only unlocked one beating the game on Hard. On top of the many difficulties to test your skill, there is Arcade Mode which has different sub-modes. Score Attack mode lets you play though the campaign with out as many cut-scenes picking a specific chapter if you wish, to try and gain the most points to compare on either your Friend, Global or Crew Leaderboards. You gain points and bonuses for everything (headshots, time, etc.) as well as a medal for each level, whether it’s bronze, silver, gold or platinum. Then there is New York Minute which requires you to beat the game in one minute! Sounds crazy but you gain bonus time for everything you do here as well, while using bullet time is always a plus. You can also do one level at a time too, however that is not the case for ‘New York Minute Hardcore’ mode which requires you to beat the game in under a minute without dying once, basically saying it must be done in one sitting as well.
All of the different things, whether in Arcade Mode or beating the game on a high difficulty don’t just give you a dinky achievement or trophy either as you are rewarded with special things. You can unlock things in multiplayer as well as unlock special cheats you can turn on for fun during the campaign. There is Unlimited Ammo, Unlimited Bullet Time, Unlimited Pain Killers, Bullet Cam on Every Kill and One Hit Kill which are all unlocked by playing different difficulties and Arcade mode. These will of course disable Achievements but are pretty damn fun. Aside from all that there is for the first time in a Max Payne game, Multiplayer. Now multiplayer in Max Payne 3 is extremely extensive with all different modes and the new addition of ‘Crews’, which is like a clan just, a lot easier to create one or join one as well as gaining more XP among other rewards while being part of a Crew. Rockstar Games has already created many that you can join and this feature (your crew, crew stats, characters, etc.) will be able to be imported into GTA V upon release, along with other online Rockstar game in the future.
Joining up with a crew is more than what it seems on the surface as you have the option of wearing your Crews emblem on your clothing and players in a crew will automatically be matched up together if they are in the same lobby. You can have a Vendetta during a game if you choose and killing them or preventing them from killing you will gain you bonus XP. The same aspect applies to crews only it is called a feud and can spring into a split second first to 10 battle, one crew against another if you are in a feud with them. Rockstar tracks crew feuds, how long the feud has lasted as well as who is winning the feud. You can join a game with someone your crew is in a feud with and killing them will gain you extra experience. A Crew you create in Max Payne 3 will be ready and available to you in GTA V among other future Rockstar games from day one. This brings the aspect of multiplayer, making it so much bigger and better than your normal run of the mill online play.
The online multiplayer modes consist of; Deathmatch (8 Player Free for All), Team Deathmatch (8 Player), Large Team Deathmatch (16 Player), Large Deathmatch (16 Player), Payne Killer (8 Player) and Gang Wars (16 Player). In Payne Killer, two players can be Max or his partner Passos as the rest of the players must attack them to get their shot at being either one of them as they have special weapons as well as abilities. As cool as it is to be Max Payne online, the winner is simply the person to gains the most points and you can not kill your teammates. Gang Wars is probably the staple of the Max Payne 3 multiplayer along with where you will find most players. In Gang Wars you have five chapters or rounds you must complete, with there being major references from the campaign and it even being narrated by Max. Each round you will have to do something different, whether it is control a point on the map, simple team deathmatch, kill a VIP or protect one with a twist to locating the VIP among many other types of modes that are only available to play in Gang Wars and picked at complete random with the players never knowing what will be next. Whoever has the most points at the end win with each winning round giving the team five points and the last round is always Showdown (team deathmatch), so if each team wins 2 round, the score will be even for Showdown. Win all four rounds and your team starts Showdown twenty-five [5 bonus points] to zero giving your team an instant lead.
That does not each touch the depth of the multiplayer as you can customize your players looks as well as their arsenal. You can once again carry up to three weapons however the more you have the less stamina you will have and you health will regenerate slower. Too much weight will not let your player regenerate any health. To add to your arsenal you have 5 slots for items (head, chest) with three being for other items to give you an upper hand online. You can equip helmets, bulletproof vest and more all adding to your overall weight depending on the item. In addition to that there are bursts which are also unlocked through leveling your way up to 50 as you will gain better bursts along the way. Bursts can do a number of things from giving you more powerful bullets, to disguising yourself as the enemy or even make the entire enemy team think their teammates are enemies. Your Bursts are controlled by your adrenaline bar, which can be refilled by killing enemies and looting bodies, but be careful as enemies can equip a surprise explosive when you loot them, which is another item you can unlock.
All of that consists of your arsenal, but you can completely customize your characters for online. There are pre-sets (including the classic character pack that came with the Special Edition of the game) as well as customizable characters. During Deathmatch you can be anyone from any faction. During team based games, it will choose the factions automatically so you can customize what you character will look like when that specific faction is chosen out of the six different ones. Upon leveling up you’ll unlock new items and can change their Head(presets), Hair, Hats, Glasses, Torso, Accesories, Hands, Legs, Shoes as well as their Loadout Items. It has not been made clear what exactly you will be able to import into GTA V but we thinks it’s your characters/factions.
Max Payne 3 is a heavy hitter from a developer/publisher that does not mess around when it comes to releasing a game. It was certainly delivered well with Max Payne 3 as the character is an icon of sorts, kind of like Mario, but we all can’t be nice guys, at least in the real world. Throughout the game you felt like you were dealing with real world things such trust, consequences, poverty, power, corruption and morals. Rockstar Studios created one hell of a game that tells one hell of a story as it is shadowed in the multiplayer with customization as well as creativity never seen in a Rockstar game yet. With the creation of Crews, it seems it is just the beginning and as far as the future of Max Payne 3, there are already seven DLC packs set to released from June throughout the Fall of 2012. Fans of the franchise must own this game. For some Max Payne 3 may not be their cup of tea, however I fear they would just be neglecting to look at the bigger picture. In my opinion, no matter which way you go, you can’t go wrong with Max Payne 3.