2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
So this game is about some poor slob named Max Payne...
, June 21, 2012
And it's pretty awesome.
I'm a pretty big Max Payne fan; so needless to say, I snatched a copy of #3 as soon as I could. I loved the first one, but found the second one a tad bit disappointing (and depressing... well, more depressing than what I was expecting) story wise, and but it never swayed my interest for a third game.
Fast forward 9 years and they finally released Max Payne 3 on the day Diablo 3 comes out. I laughed at all the poor suckers that are required to be logged on to slow, broken servers in order to play the single player as I used my Xbox, which is currently not connected to the internet right now, to play Max Payne 3 without any problems at all. I hadn't even played the game yet, and already Max Payne 3 was looking like a much better game than Diablo 3.
Anyways to the actual review... first will come with my impressions of the game in which I've had the chance to play a few times over, then I'll include pros, cons, and IGN style scoring of graphics, gameplay, etc.
Please note, I have not played the Multiplayer at all, but I've heard/read good things about the mode... which is something I don't think Bioshock 2 and Dead Space 2 (both fantastic games) can claim.
First impression of the game was "Well, there sure are a lot of cutscenes," then came "Holy crap, that was awesome,", followed by, "These controls and this weapon wheel thing are pissing me off." By the end of my first playthrough, it was, "Best game I've played since last year's Portal 2." The game is really fantastic. I'll explain, as my hands freeze to the keyboard in this overly air-conditioned room.
There is a lot of dialog in this game, and lots of storytelling. This is a linear game and therefore you get the story instead of spending too much time screwing around in the streets of Liberty City like in GTA4. Throughout the game, Payne is telling a story of events that occurred leading up the opening part which has a bearded Max with a shaved head pondering the reasoning for him about to kill some guy laying on the ground in dire pain just outside of an airport hangar. The telling of tale starts with a clean-shaved Max with his classic doo in São Paulo, Brazil on protection detail for a family of rich pricks. The game introduces the people important to the tale (though you'll meet a couple more really important players later on). Unlike previous Max Payne games, it's not just Max narrating the events in that monotone voice we all know (though he does that the entire game), you actually see Max have a more extended part in conversing with other characters with actual emotion. Gone is the film noir style from the previous games, MP 3 actually plays out the events in full motion with the occasional cut to storyboard for special effect. All events were motion captured, which adds a sense of realism to the table.
Cutscenes are mostly unskippable but only because they're needed to load the game's next level without forcing players to stare at a loading screen. I've seen a number of people complaining about the unskippable cutscenes, and I have generally assumed they either missed the little message that pops up that says "Loading Level", or they would prefer to stare at a loading screen. Please note that all cutscenes can be skipped once the level is loaded, sometimes it takes longer than other times.
The story itself is pretty good, and comes with a few twists. Max is now personal security for a rich family but is thrust into action again thanks to a gang who decides to kidnap the wife of his boss. For the majority of the game, Max is trying to say the girl, but like previous games, nothing is what is seems. I won't say anymore in fear of spoiling the game.
The game is really more about character of Max Payne than the story. You'll feel bad for Max just like you felt bad about Max before as he is either getting screwed over or constantly one set behind the bad guys no thanks to waves of enemies that get in the way. There is a lot more character development for Max this time around as Max seems to go from drunk and depressed to a man with a purpose (other than just killing punks). If you don't find yourself clapping at the end, you probably shouldn't have even bothered playing the game in the first place.
A good story, dialog, and characters are nothing without good gameplay, (see The Getaway, Kane and Lynch), and Max Payne 3 delivers. The game is not short on the "OMG, THAT WAZ SO FREAKING AWESOME" moments. Some moments are scripted, some you make on your own simply by playing. I found that the controls took a bit more getting used to this time around since I had to adjust to the fact that they aren't customizable like the first two games. The weapon wheel feature also threw me off. It didn't seem to me (at first) that it was an efficient and quick way to switch weapons. After playing some more, I don't think the controls could have been done any better and the weapon wheel is genius. Weapon swapping is easily done on the fly, which fits the fast paced gameplay.
The shootdodge is much better than previous games, now you have more time to aim for fools heads and it doesn't waste your Bullet Time meter. I did have problems with the direction as Max would often leap in a direction I was not intending to do leading to many-a-death or painkiller used. Max also likes to collide into stuff a lot, and shootdodging over small tables/counters proves to be a pain as he can't completely clear them and ends up landing on top.
I found Bullet Time to only be useful during sniping (which sucks bad BTW), and vehicle sections (which are freaking awesome). The biggest downfall to Bullet Time is that you run out really quick and you don't regenerate it over time, nor does it recharge when killing people. I often found myself out of bullettime when I desperately needed it. It seemed to me that Max had to be taking damage or be close to enemy fire to recharge his meter. It's really disappointing.
Gunplay itself is fun, and shootdodging makes it better. You pretty much have to aim for the head at all times or you'll find yourself running out of ammo and pain killers. Shotguns are garbage. Soft Lock Targeting makes it easy to aim at people without making it cheap (free aim is available if you plan on unlocking achievements for certain achievements). Gone is the fast aim crap (though there is a 180 turn button, and replacing it is a slightly zoomed in, more accurate aim that makes it easier to kill fools (L trigger, if you have the Soft or Hard Lock, it'll lock you on to an enemy), there is no autoaim like in previous games where you aim is where your bullets will go (unless you're near an object that blocks Max's ability to aim the gun down range, or sometimes in second chance Bullettime).
Speaking of the second chance feature, it's a pain in the neck. Sure it looks cool for the first couple of times and it can save your butt, but it leaves you laying on the ground for too long afterward and sometimes you'll die because you needed to reload, had a grenade launcher in hand, or the enemy disappeared out of sight.
Reloading is only quick during bullettime and shootdodge, you have a chance to hold a magnum which Max reloads one bullet at a time, unless you reload in Bulletime/shootdodge which he somehow has a speed reloader for those instances.
The cover mechanics work fine, though Max doesn't move away from cover as quickly as he hops behind it and it really works better when using the target locks. I'm a big shootdodge player and I often like to dodge from cover spot to cover spot and Max snaps behind cover quickly after a dodge as long as you push the button.
Enemies are both smart and annoying. Some will charge you if you sit behind cover too long, others will just sit there and hide behind cover the whole time unless you charge them. Not having grenades to throw makes many enemies really annoying but at least you don't catch them just sitting out there waiting for you to shoot them. Some fights are really exciting, some are frustrating (especially in free aim... darn Molotov cocktail *shakes fist*).
You can only hold on to 3 guns at a time, two handguns/machine pistols/sawed off shotugns, and a larger gun (SMG, assault rifles, sniper, LMGs, shotguns, explosive weapons). If you plan on dualwielding, not only will you run out of ammo quick, but you'll also drop your two handed weapon as Max does not hold those in a sling. Max also drops weapons on occasion during cutscenes. It's all a pain at first, but you get used to it quick.
Personal experience: Pistols are easily the best weapons for head shots and shotguns will get you killed. Also, turn off Laser sights if a weapon has them, it's hard to aim with.
On a most part, the game looks pretty good. Some explosions look cheap, some look pretty fantastic, it's a tad bit inconsistent. There are lots of cool effects that are used during the game to give it a feel of its own. Certainly not the best looking game ever, but it looks pretty solid all around. Every movement in the game is motion captured which is really cool, and it makes animations look realistic.
James McCaffrey again voices Max Payne. The dialog is usually well acted, aside from a couple annoying character who like to whine/complain a lot. It can be a bit annoying as characters constantly urge you to move faster. The sound effects work well enough, nothing felt out of place. The music... well outside of the actual Max Payne theme, it's all mostly forgettable. One could easily turn off the music and it wouldn't affect the game in the least. No Poets of the Fall this time though... :(
Aside from the actually campaign mode and the multiplayer mode (again, haven't played it), you have a couple extra modes: Score attack and New York Minute. Score Attack is easy, you try to get the highest possible score throughout the levels, if you use a painkiller or die, you lose points. Try to get gold on all to unlock a "cheat" and an achievement. New York Minute is a time attack mode. You start with a certain amount of time at the beginning. The goal is to complete the level in the allotted time. You get extra time for each kill you score, head shots, bullettime, and shootdodge kills all get you extra time. It's actually both challenging and fun.
You'll also get other difficulty levels to unlock. Beating the game on hard unlocks Hardcore. Beating the game on Hardcore unlocks Old School... I have no idea how Old School plays.
Finally, you have stuff you get to pick up. Clues give you more of an idea as to what is going on (think Prototype's memories but just with Max looking at the item narrating about it). There are also gold guns you need to collect. Each weapon has 3 parts in specific levels that you can collect. Collect all 3 and each time you have the weapon, it'll be gold... additionally, the magazine/clip size is larger which means less reloading. Don't forget to watch TV's (there aren't as many this time around), and also, look out for pianos throughout the game. Max does something special with those (people who played Max Payne 2 will know what's in store).
Max Payne 3 is a fantastic thrillride with some great dialog and character development for our hero. There are plenty of OMG moments and lots of shoosting. The Bullettime could have been done better, and the music could have been more memorable, but nothing in the game takes away from the great time you'll have. There's plenty of reason to replay the game, plus a well received multiplayer. If you're a Max Payne fan, I highly recommend it. If you're not familiar with Max Payne, get familiar with Max Payne and then get Max Payne 3.
-Shootdodging. OMGWTFBBQ moments. Vehicle sessions.
-Shotguns. Very limited Bullettime. Sniping. Glitches.
-Shootdodging into a wall.
-It's all about Max here. Everyone else can suck it. Rockstar went all out on the presentation aspect and it shows.
-Motion capturing everything is great. Cheap looking explosions is not.
-Forgettable soundtrack, but everything else sounds great. The Max Payne theme is still great.
-Aside from a couple hickups and a limited bullettime, everything is pretty effing awesome and really fun.
-New York Minute, Score attack, Multiplayer. Stuff to collect, plenty of stuff to do, and it's never boring.
A good game is a game worth playing through at least once. A great game is a game that is worth playing over and over and Max Payne 3 delivers. Kudos to Rockstar on yet another grand slam. Here's to GTA V.