- Publisher: Rockstar
- Developer: Rockstar Vancouver
- ESRB Rating: “"M" for Mature
- Genre: Third-Person-Shooter
- Pros: Satisfying gameplay; fantastic presentation; solid multiplayer; Max's commentary
- Cons: Can get frustrating; a little repetitive; slow multiplayer progress
Max Payne 3 features Max Payne at rock bottom. He has tried to escape the sins of his past by moving to Sao Paulo, Brazil and is hired as a bodyguard for a rich and powerful family only to find himself dragged back into the dark world he though he had left behind. He's a killer for hire and he's darn good at it, after all. The story is fascinating and features a surprising depth to not only Max, but also characters who are introduced as nothing but shallow early on. The story is presented through cutscenes that transition seamlessly from cinematic to gameplay and the use of interesting camera angles and multiple frames onscreen really make it look and feel like a movie.
The best part of the storytelling is the regular commentary from Max himself. He almost always has something to say about a situation or the room you're currently in or what you should do next, but it isn't just for humor's sake the way some games do it. Max says things that the player is likely already thinking (Max's contempt for the very people he is hired to protect, or his disgust at going to a flashy dance club are just a couple of early examples), and just having those thoughts and feelings vocalized really helps you connect with Max and want to see his story through to the end.
We do have a couple of complaints, though. The game can be pretty challenging even on the lowest difficulty. It is a game that kind of seems like you are encouraged to rush into battle and play Rambo, but using bullet time effectively and actually taking advantage of cover will keep you alive and moving forward much better than going in guns blazing. Even with a thoughtful approach to the gameplay, however, there are still some difficulty spikes that will give you trouble where the game throws a ton of enemies at you and expects absolute precision in the shots you make. It gets frustrating.
Multiplayer in Max Payne 3 is standard TPS fare, but with twists to make it interesting. Multiplayer is much faster paced than the SP and in this case flying around guns blazing is usually the way to go since that is what everyone else will be doing. The game utilizes perks called "bursts" that include bullet time (where both you and the enemy you are targeting go into slo-mo) or a neat one that causes everyone to drop their grenades (primed and ready to blow, of course). You'll actually want to use all of the different bursts because they have dramatic effects that can change the course of a match. The game uses the now standard XP system where you earn new weapon loadouts and stuff as you rank up. Our one complaint with the MP, however, is that progression is glacially slow. It takes hours upon hours to reach level 20, for example, which is where the next major set of new weapons unlock. On the one hand, it makes you utilize the full arsenal of weapons for longer (and the starter pistol or uzi do get pretty good with some upgrades) but on the other it takes seemingly forever to unlock the "good stuff" and players may tire of it before then. Only time will tell.
Graphics & Sound
All in all, Max Payne 3 is an excellent game that shooter fans will definitely want to pick up. It offers a fun and lengthy SP campaign that is surprisingly replayable on different difficulty levels as well as a couple of extra modes that add scoring systems to the mix along with a solid multiplayer mode that will keep players busy for quite a while before they see it all. Even if you feel the gameplay loses some of its luster in the latter half of the 12 or so hour long campaign, the strength of the gorgeous presentation and the extreme likeability of Max Payne himself will keep you playing. The most important part is that Max Payne 3 is definitely worth a look and we recommend it for at least a rental if SP is your only interest but you'll get your money's worth out of a purchase if you plan to spend time with multiplayer as well.
Also see our Max Payne 3 (PS3) Review