I never actually played much of the first Max Payne and certainly didn’t touch the second one. Nothing at all against those games but at that stage of my gaming life it just wasn’t what I wanted to play.
Having seen the franchise change owners and land up in the hands of Rockstar Games I was quite excited to see what they would do with it.
This third instalment sees Max at rock bottom – drunk and addicted to painkillers while working as low rent security for a wealthy Brazilian family down in South America.
As you can imagine things go wrong quickly and Max is left trying to pick up the pieces while fighting his own demons.
Graphically the game looks fantastic, taking in various different areas/scenes as Max’s adventure continues. Some wonderful use of bright colours really makes a difference and reminded me at times of the Uncharted series.
The comic book style of the cut scenes was fairly refreshing and overall the game oozes the class that Rockstar normally stamp on their products.
The band Health provide a truly great soundtrack (check out ‘Tears’ here, it’s pretty amazing) and the developers have really dialled up the grittiness. Max Payne 3 is one of the darkest games I’ve played in a while and it made a nice change to play something that didn’t mind getting it’s hands dirty, so to speak.
There were complaints from some quarters about the slow-mo kill cam and how graphic it is. I can see how that is a valid argument but I feel it fits in with the rest of the game so it wasn’t a problem to me.
On the gameplay front it took me a while to adjust to how fragile Max is (which makes sense as he’s an old ex-cop with two crippling addictions ) but once I got used to the fact that, even in bullet time, two or three shots will kill you I went with a more conservative play style and the frustration was gone.
One thing that surprised me a little was just how much fun the online multiplayer is – I found myself coming back again and again to stick another few hours in. The highlight there for me is the Gang Wars mode, which is a much more fleshed out version of Killzone 3′s ‘Operations’ mode.
Most enjoyable and I like the fact that for the first few hours you’re only playing against other ‘noobs’. Once you hit a certain rank the game opens up and you’ll be playing against players of varying levels. It’s a nice way to ease people in.
My complaints about the game were mainly directed at a handful of misplaced checkpoints, which led to me having to replay *another* firefight before getting back to the one I died in – frustrating at times.
When Max Payne 3 flows it is a wonderful, gritty, dark yet vibrant gaming experience. Unfortunately it doesn’t always flow. I was expecting big things from this game and Rockstar have delivered for the most part but some minor niggles along the way mean Max Payne 3 doesn’t quite hit the heights I’d been hoping for.