max payne icon 15 Jun

Max Payne probably judges the quality of his day the same way Ice Cube does: whether or not he needs to employ his Kalashnikov. He’s getting older. His wife and kid are dead. And his liver and kidneys are slowly being destroyed by a tag-team effort of both an alcohol and a pain killer addiction.

See? Jersey isn’t all bad. Max Payne lives there.

Yes, Max’s pain is our pleasure. Because on bad days he gets to jump through the air in slow motion firing off his iconic twin pistols in the faces of New Jersey’s criminal scum. And while he may wish that someone would just put a bullet into him and end his misery, for the sake of our vicarious enjoyment, we hope he keeps coming back to us with more and more misery.

But it’s been almost 10 years since Max Payne 2 and Max Payne 3 has some rather large expectations to live up to. The 2012 landscape of gaming is almost unrecognizable compared to 2003 and fans have come to know and love a level of expertise from Rockstar Games when it comes to their favorite noir crimefighter.

Max has just about given up with… everything. He’s held up in Hoboken and would rather spend his time at the bottom of a bottle than filling out a job application. With his own family life in absolute shambles, he takes a private protection job for an absurdly wealthy family known as the Broncos. But this time around tragedy doesn’t befall upon Max as much as it does the super-wealthy Bronco family. He does everything within his gun-slinging power to protect every single family member as they start off living on the top of the world and subsequently falling into an absolute hell.

It wouldn’t be a Max Payne game without bullet time, even at point blank range.

We can’t say we loved the story of Max Payne 3. There are entirely too many flash forwards and flashbacks that lead to the present day that lead to flash forwards. It feels too disjointed and unstable for us to say it was “good.” We can’t say it was “poor” either. It was serviceable enough to give you reason to pick up your guns again and play each progressive level. Sam Lake is missing from the writing staff on Max Payne 3, and it definitely shows.

But most people don’t play Max Payne games for the story. They play them for the brutal gameplay with Matrix-esque gunfights. And Max Payne 3 serves up the firefights by the truckload. In terms of 3rd person action, Max Payne delivers a shooting fest that easily rivals anything served up by Nathan Drake or Marcus Fenix, but without their fancy regenerating health.

That’s right, regenerating health is out the window, which might be a first for a AAA 3rd person action shooter this generation, and we’re happy to see it go. Max’s only respite comes from abusing pain meds which can be doled out manually, or they can be administered automatically when your health reaches zero, resulting in a dramatic “last man standing scenario” that we never quite got enough of.

Max goes through a few hair styles in Max Payne 3. He almost looks like Sam Fisher from Conviction.

The single player experience is of average length clocking in around 8 – 10 hours on standard difficulty. Annoyingly, the load times are borderline unbearable. Rockstar realized the gaf and masked the loading times with some decent cutscenes, but end result are long loading times that create unskippable cutscenes. The issue isn’t as problematic upon first playthrough, but subsequent visits to Hoboken and beyond will leave you slamming the skip button without effect, even on Arcade mode.

When you’ve grown tired of the campaign, you can take Max and pals into the multiplayer arena and battle it out in typical online shooter style, complete with bullet time. We’d like to say the multiplayer is groundbreaking, but it’s not. It’s solidly built and moderately satisfying, but does little to expand upon the formula of perks and gunplay.

Depending on which platform you play on, you’ll get a completely different experience of Max Payne 3. Consoles will control Max exactly like John Marston, which only exacerbates the frustration of not having Red Dead Redemption on PC. Out of the box, it works and players can dive into the action in no time.

On PC, gamers will drool at the DX11 polished graphics and the more refined WASD controls, but they run the severe risk of the game not running… at all. In fact, 2 out of 3 editors here at couldn’t get the game to launch beyond the title screen which eventually resulted in this grossly tardy review.

So in the end, Max Payne 3 is a rather mixed bag of good and bad. The gunplay and gameplay are undoubtedly well above average. The story is definitely the weakest of the trilogy as it is a tale more befitting John McClane than Max Payne. The cutscene / load screens are painfully long and feel like they pad the experience too much. The multiplayer gameplay is solid, but won’t renew your faith in online deathmatches. And we can’t help but be irked at the bugginess of the PC version even now a few weeks after the game’s launch. Overall, we can say we had a fun time with Max Payne 3, but $60 is becoming a steep price for shooters, even ones with a Rockstar pedigree. This one is a worth buying if you’re definitely a fan of Max Payne or just 3rd person shooters in general, and only a Worth Trying if you’re new to the series.

Name: Max Payne 3

Available on: PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3

Price: $59.99

Developed by: Rockstar Studios

Published by: Rockstar Games

Release date: May 15th 2012

Elder-Geek Score: 4 out of 5 / Worth Buying/Trying

2 thoughts on “Max Payne 3 Video Review”

  1. Glad your back Randy, how are you and your family?

    I like this review alot, and the game looks really good, I haven’t played it yet though.

    It’s cool that you said that thing about Ice Cube and an AK, from ‘A Good Day’ =)

    I’m glad to see the regenerating health bar / circle go aswell, I kind of miss the days when you had a bar like the old Splinter Cells and Hitman games to me, couldn’t just run into a hot spot and get shot then hide for a bit then repeat, you had to think more.

    The story is more like Die Hard than Max Payne? I get what you mean, Die Hard is my favourite action film but it’s probably out of place for this kind of game / setting especially for the big fans of these games.

    It’s like me with the new Need for Speed Most Wanted, it looks too much like Burnout, I like Burnout but it’s not Need for Speed any more.

  2. “But most people don’t play Max Payne games for the story.” Disagree. ‘Most’ Max Payne 1 & 2 players that I’ve encountered usually adore and gloat about the story endlessly.

    I did enjoy Max Payne 3’s story though. I overall greatly prefer the narrative and character development of the first two titles however the writing found here combined with the action set pieces is nothing short of spectacular.

    I can’t really think of very many flaws with Rockstar’s Payne 3. The few flaws I could convey are far to insignificant to me to complain about. It’s just an incredibly FUN & engaging game and that’s all I can ask for. I’ve always dreamed of an action game that played out like you were watching a movie and Max Payne 3 has filled that void to the MAX. Cinematic perfection.

    As for the price of $60 however it WAS too steep for me and I sadly resold the game on Ebay after I was through. Hopefully a GOTY edition pops up in the future so I can repurchase the title when I’m a little more stable with money. I’ve replayed Max Payne 1 & 2 time and time again throughout the near decade they’ve been around for and while Max Payne 3 may not get the same attention from me due to other demanding life activities I certainly wouldn’t mind one day revisiting Max’s San Paulo.

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