If there's one thing you can say about Rockstar, it's that their story telling craft keeps improving.
Max Payne 3 is a departure from the previous two games in that you're no longer the squinty protagonist trapped in a city of madness, drugs and conspiracy. Instead, you're in sunny Brazil working as a private body guard, getting away from the rainy NYC from previous games.
Max has a few flash backs to his former life and how he got down to the tropics and tangled up in a kidnapping plot, but the story is heavily based on the corruption unfolding in Sao Paulo.
Although Max goes through a minor mid-life crisis and ends up shaving his head, it just doesn't feel the same without the nightmare levels or the dark delusions of a alcohol saturated mind. With no police force to report to or people to really be held accountable to, it feels a bit "gringo vigilante" throughout most of the game.
The gameplay is reasonably solid, but the difficulty curve takes a steep drop once you get familiar with aiming directly for the face every time. Bullet time only makes things easier when you're getting the hang of dialing your sights in. I have to imagine it's much more difficult with a controller, but with keyboard and mouse, it's only a matter of time before every enemy is one or two shots to the head away from no longer being a problem.
Like any good Max Payne game, the ending is pretty brutal and Max is left not much better off than he started with the bad guys dead and another killing spree heavy on his conscious. Ultimately, however, the Brazil vacation for Max feels detached from the rest of the series and I think it may have been better if Rockstar had spun up a new protagonist rather than squeezing the retired NYC cop into the tropical revenge role.
A solid purchase for anyone with a good computer able to push the gorgeous graphics Rockstar has put together, but fans of the series may feel a bit betrayed by the deviation from the usual. New fans won't be left out in the cold too badly, as flash backs largely help to round out Max's character as to where he's been and why he's in his current situation.