Max Payne 3 review

Max Payne 3 review

T3 5
  • Max Payne 3 is finally here bringing with it the usual third-person shooter mechanics along with familiar features like the multiplayer mode and bullet-time

    Max Payne 3 review

    Love

    • Gritty
    • mature plot
    • Super cool shooter action
    • Awesome multiplayer

    Hate

    • Bullet-sponge enemies
    • Eye-watering difficulty
    • LMS occasionally doesn’t work

    Max Payne 3 is the first game in the franchise to be developed solely by Rockstar Games, and boy does it show. What was once a series that embraced action movie clichés and gothic noir in equal measure has now become a shooter steeped in grit and bloody realism.

    Max Payne 3: Plot and Characters

    Reality is Rockstar’s calling card and amazingly, for a character steeped in action movie tropes, it sits well with Max Payne. Instead of romanticising Max’s traumatic past and ignoring his predilection for leaving piles of corpses in his wake, Rockstar has gone to some lengths to try and humanise him.

    So it is that Max starts his third adventure as a drug-addicted alcoholic who has been hired because he’s a walking slaughterhouse. Casting Max Payne in real-world terms is a pretty ballsy move on Rockstar’s part, but they’re helped immensely by the game’s switch in scenery.

    The plot kicks off with Max joining the security detail of a rich South American industrialist in Sao Paulo. In short order, he’s firing bullets in the general direction of heavily armed thugs who want to make off with both his employer and his employer’s trophy wife.

    It all seems pretty straightforward, but as the hits keep on coming, Max begins to suspect that the kidnappers may have been helped by someone in his employers’ camp.

    Max Payne 3: Gameplay

    Rockstars manage to tie all of the intrigue and double-dealing to level-design that has the player slinging lead in the most stylish way possible. Max Payne 3 may be grittier than its predecessors and its storyline may be more mature, but the series’ signature bullet-time mechanic remains present and correct.

    Players fill a bullet-time meter by shooting opponents and avoiding gunfire. When they click in the right stick, the action on screen slows to a crawl, sound effects become muffled and they’re given a small window of slowed-down time to pick out their targets carefully.

    Don’t get the impression, though, that bullet-time makes Max Payne 3 a cakewalk. Even on Medium setting this is a game that’ll test shooter fans to their limits.

    Max is a frail character, and while players can top up his health with painkillers, a well-placed burst of gunfire from a couple of enemies is more than capable of taking him down.

    Not only that, but the game’s Last Man Standing (LSM) mechanic, which allows players to stylishly dispatch foes when they’re close to croaking, sometimes malfunctions, leaving Max twirling in a slow-motion arch and then collapsing on the floor.

    Max Payne 3, like its grizzled protagonist, is also a more old-school package than most. That is to say, that it’s not a shooter built around a multiplayer with a campaign that’s a lightweight, throwaway affair.

    Max Payne 3: Multiplayer

    That having been said, the multiplayer doesn’t skimp an inch on what shooter fans expect from triple A title in this genre. There’s a whole raft of maps, match types, customisation options, in-match challenges and unlockables to keep gamers glued to their consoles long into the night.

    It’s also a step away from your usual online fragfest. Just as it does in the single-player, Max Payne 3 offers bullet-time as a tactical mechanic in its online mode. Players are able to slow-down time on each other and draw a bead on foes, provided they have the requisite meter filled – after scoring headshots and kills.

    It’s a testament to the skill of Rockstar’s development team that they’re able to plug this cool feature into their multiplayer without making the whole affair feel clunky or forced.

    Max Payne 3: Verdict

    Given the fact that Max Payne was born into this world as a bundle of clichés tied to a mechanic that started to become dated the moment the first game was released, Max Payne 3 could have been a train wreck. Instead, it’s a sharp, gritty and stylish shooter that offers thrills and depth in equal measure.

    It’s the perfect blend of hard-boiled storytelling and cinematic action, and a testament that Rockstar is starting to show serious chops at developing Triple A gaming experiences beyond its usual sandbox offerings.

    Max Payne 3 availability: 18 May 2012

    Max Payne 3 price: £39.99

  • Max Payne 3’s online mode is an exciting cocktail of tension, visceral shooter mechanics and gritty match types. It even brings bullet-time to the party  

    Max Payne 3 review

    Love

    • Gritty
    • mature plot
    • Super cool shooter action
    • Awesome multiplayer

    Hate

    • Bullet-sponge enemies
    • Eye-watering difficulty
    • LMS occasionally doesn’t work

    Max Payne 3, and indeed, the entire Max Payne franchise, is famous for a feature that sets it apart from the Modern Warfares and Battlefields of this world: bullet-time. This is the only series of games that allows players to tap a button, and have the character they’re controlling enter a slow-motion bullet-ballet.

    When this happens, shell-casings waft breezily across the screen, victims recoil with muffled screams and gun-blasts flower like fireworks. It looks utterly awesome in single-player, but how can this mechanic work in an online firefight?

    Max Payne 3: Gameplay

    The answer, surprisingly, is very well indeed. Any player can enter into bullet-time, or execute a slow-motion dodge-shoot move so long as they have another player in view. If more than one opponent enters their eyeline, then gameplay slows down for all players concerned.

    In bullet-time, players are able to move their crosshairs quickly from target to target, emptying entire clips of lead into their victims. Naturally, those players who have the drop on their opponents have a tactical advantage the moment they activate bullet-time.

    Players on the receiving end of such an attack are advised to execute a dodge-roll or find cover – do anything, really to get out of their attacker’s eyeline.

    Max Payne 3: Features

    Bullet-time works much the same way in multiplayer as it does in the game’s main campaign in that it isn’t in inexhaustible supply. Players are required to fill a meter in order to activate it, and they do this by scoring kills. Gunning down opponents also earns players XP and this allows them to unlock avatar customisation options including tattoos, outfits and accessories.

    It also gives them access to new weapons, attachments and Bursts – in-game skills that function in similar fashion to the Perks in Call Of Duty.

    Max Payne 3: Multiplayer

    Some Bursts are variations on standard multiplayer shooter perks such as faster reloading times, faster movement and the ability to take more damage. Then there are brand new powers, which dovetail neatly with the gritty, damaged aesthetic of the Max Payne franchise.

    These include Paranoia, which makes all the players on the opposing team look like enemies and allows them to take damage from friendly fire, and Big Dog, which gives your entire team an adrenaline boost.

    Max Payne 3: Match Types

    The online aspect of Max Payne 3 includes a couple of classic match types – Team deathmatch among them – but the developers have also included a couple of unique competitions. The most compelling of these is Gang Wars, which follows the fortunes of some of the armed thugs Max runs into in the single-player campaign.

    In practice, it’s a pick ’n mix of multiplayer modes where each team is assigned an objective they need to complete, such as defusing a bomb, occupying a piece of turf or capturing bags of money. Each Gang War match ends in a deathmatch where the team who have won the most rounds so far have an edge over their opponents.

    The other match type T3 was able to play was Payne Killer, a version of the classic Capture The Flag mode with a twist. The match begins as a Free-For-All, and the players who score the first and second kill become Max and Max’s friend from the campaign, Passos.

     

    The two of them are then tasked with gunning down as many of the other players as possible. If either of them is eliminated, their killers don their avatars and then become targets for all the other competitors.

    Players who control either Max or Passos are awarded better weapons and an increased resilience to damage, so it’s worth trying to hang on to either avatar for as long as possible.

    Max Payne 3: Verdict

    Max Payne 3’s multiplayer is a welcome surprise, given how long the series has existed as a single-player-only experience. Nothing about the online mode feels tacked on or rushed. On the contrary, in fact, Max Payne 3 boasts a multiplayer that feels as deep and layered as some of the best the shooter genre has to offer.

    The multiplayer offers a gritty, cinematic and compelling experience. Furthermore, it’s proof that Rockstar, a developer renowned for superb single-player fare, is starting to show some serious aptitude for creating awesome multiplayer games.

    If you’re still not convinced, answer this question: what other online mode offers bullet-time?

    Max Payne 3 availability: May 2012

    Max Payne 3 price: From £39.99

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