Max Payne 3 has arrived at last; an eager title to continue the strong Max payne series. So then, does it hold true to its older core? Or has it been homogenised into an unrecognizable modern game?
Kicking things off, we’re introduced to the game via a sleek monologue intro-scene bringing new gamers into the series, as well as giving older fans of the series a familiar gritty atmosphere. Soon after, you get the typical menu: options, multiplayer, singpleplayer, etc.
The game actually supports a nice variety of PC-centric options – like DX11 for those that enjoy a high level of fidelity when blowing people to bits – as well as allowing you to tune things down so even an older PC will be able to run the game (HD 4870 was able to run the game).
The actual gameplay: another cover-based shooter? Or does bullet-time play a bigger role?
Max Payne grew critical acclaim partly because of the slow-mo action that it gave gamers way back in the first Max Payne. Max Payne 3 stays true to that, and makes sure players will be diving and darting into slow-motion like maniacs. Slow-mo plays a large role – however, instead of outright allowing players to dominate soldiers, it becomes part of the gameplay. You’ll need to dart out and achieve a chain of headshots and kills to keep the bullet time flowing and making it possible to continue the fight. You can use bullet-time in several ways; should you need to manually activate some accrued bullet-time, you can hit shift and pick off those last few guys, or it automatically kicks in whenever you dive, regardless of whether or not you have some bullet-time saved up. Lastly you can get a brief reprieve if someone manages to get a ‘killing’ shot on you and you have at least 1 painkiller left, you’ll enter bullet-time and be able to take a shot back at the sod. If you pull it off, you’ll stand back up. The camera can sometimes screw you over during these ‘last-Stand’ moments, avoid diving towards wall as the camera will get stuck and give you a terrible viewing angle – this is partly down to wanting to emulate the ferocity of your own rag-doll demise, and partly due to clashing with objects around you.
Whilst the game is certainly cover heavy, the map design still tries to stay true to a bit of realism and won’t fall into the same mistakes that Mass Effect made – whereby a nearby combat scene was obvious due to the sudden appearance of cover-based objects in an otherwise flat environment. If you’re in an office there are going to be desks; if a nearby door gets kicked in and an enemy group swarm in, the desks and such are positioned to look like an office instead of to provide cover towards that doors approach.
A typical trope for Action titles is the chase scene; Max Payne is no exception. Including a nice selection of chase missions that have a decent variety to them, it won’t simply be 4 car chase scenes one-after-the-other, making them enjoyable and different each time. Of course as you’ll usually find with chase scenes in games, some of them can be a bit unforgiving and Max Payne 3 already being fairly notorious already for its difficulty, means the chase missions are also fairly unforgiving.
One gripe I have with game-play is that at various junctions the game pretends to allow stealth elements, however at every point in the game that this happens if you sit back and wait the patrolling guards will be alerted to you within 20 seconds, whilst at other points any attempts to use silenced weapons to take out opponents will raise the alarm anyway. Perhaps this is something included on easy or oldschool – I only played on Hard and it wasn’t incorporated at all.
What’s the point in cover-based combat and bullet time without some nice beefy weapons to use?
Whilst all the weapons in the game are either given at the start of a level or provided off the corpses of enemies (so don’t expect to pick up a crowbar and use that for half the game) the bullet-time and gunplay mix together, when you need to be accurate and chain head-shots its important that the weapons allow that type of accuracy, and don’t force the player to just spray in the enemies general directiona and pray for a kill: it doesn’t work.
Luckily Max doesn’t suffer from this, and all the pistols in the game have perfect accuracy – as well as most assault rifles – however the sub-machine guns and shotguns are not quite as accurate and lend themselves to the dive-towards-the-enemy mentality as you pepper-spray a doorway with bullets and hope no enemies manage to stand up afterwards.
With cover based combat, hefty gunplay with perfect accuracy and slow motion bad-ass diving, what else do you need? A story? Fine.
The story behind Max Payne 3
Throughout the course of the game, Max monologues the situation and provides context on what to do next, including insight into his motivation, etc. whenever a player finds a ‘clue’ and interacts with it, Max provides some more insight on the item and its overall relevance to the story. This allows players eager to get into a strong story to become more fully immersed. Max is a troubled man and has some deep seeded demons within him that cause him to act rashly and seek vengeance in a way even he doesn’t understand – sometimes this leads to flashbacks where you can get a better view of what has shaped Max’s psychosis (He goes around killing hundred’s of people with practically no care, I’d call that individual psychotic..)
Of course Max meets plenty of important people throughout the story, who are all given their own introductions and side-story so as to keep the focus on the overall story, and not solely focus on Max’s actions. This lets you better understand the entire story and come up with your own guesses on what everyone’s motivation is – which adds to the plot twists and events that I shan’t ruin here.
What of the pretty red bow the package comes with?
Whilst the game can look very nice on max settings, there are a few low res textures around various levels and some low detail props on various maps – look at a stack of papers in an office for instance However the game only has a few of these and the fact that they’ve put effort into how the glass breaks when shot as well as the rather nifty rag-dolls makes up for this. Whenever you go prone Max’s body becomes a ragdoll and his legs and arms decide to fit the enviroment and he can get into all sorts of creative poses – its nifty, and a strong indicator of the year we are in; no more prone with your legs sticking through a wall issues.
After all is said and done, the singleplayer should last a good 10 hours or so on normal; a fair bit longer on hard as it can be rather unforgiving. The game also allows you to unlock 2 further difficulties after Hard (Hardcore and Oldschool) for a little extra longevity.
There is also an Arcade mode that allows you to run through various previous missions and acquire a score for your performance on that mission, which is then submitted to a leaderboard and ranked against other players across the globe – however, this is a tad pointless for now, as the leaderboards are already hacked and the scores are maxed.
What of Multiplayer – I hear you ask.
Multiplayer deserves its own section which which is why there is a MP3 Multiplayer review here.
in short however, the multiplayer brings all the same core elements from the singleplayer game and lets you show your friends who’s boss, there is a nice variety of straight up competitive multiplayer (TDM, CTF etc) as well as 2 Max Payne modes: Max Payne, gang Wars – which add a new twist to the online play.
The multiplayer has also incorporated various features to allow for a functional crew setup.
Set up a crew with your friends, or join an already existing group, such as the OKS one, here.
When in a match against another crew you can score kills against each other and cause a “crew fightout” where kills between your two crews are displayed in the bottom right and the crew that kills the other the set amount first, wins. You also acquire bonus exp when killing enemy crew members during this crew-fightoff.