Wednesday, 6 June 2012

REVIEW: Max Payne 3

From the snowy streets of New York, Max gets a bit of sun in Brazil but some things never change.

If you've played Max Payne before you will know that it has always been criticised of style over substance. There's a lot of bullet time shooting, which is it's main appeal, however it's dark film noir-ish story was also what kept it captivating at times. The first game concentrated on him losing his family, the second one about his relationship with another woman and moving on and this third one about what he is exactly moving on to.

The previous games were told as an internal monologue over a comic script, however, 9 years on since Max Payne 2, Rockstar have really blown the doors wide open to make Max Payne 3 a sun soaked shoot fest that never lets up.

Graphically, Payne 3 is phenomenal and the favelas of Sao Paulo are something quite remarkable. The gameplay works, but the bullet time isn't a necessity like it was in the previous games. Also changing guns is often awkward and cumbersome and if you run out of ammo? You might as well use your last bullet to shoot yourself in the head for the same good it will do you. The levels are nice and long and it does take a good 9-10 hours to complete, with a lot of ridiculous action set pieces in between, but still I feel there's a lot that lets it down.

Firstly, I found it often quite repetitive, the one thing that could really break it up from other shooters is the bullet time, but where you would often jump round corners, if you hit anything or hit the floor too soon, it will snap back out, so I often found that it's just easier to run around, find cover and shoot the old fashioned way, thereby making bullet time somewhat pointless. I would sometimes use it to go over cover and do some headshots but that's about it.

There are also a LOT of cutscenes, which I don't usually mind, but I think it could have done with a bit less and a bit more just enjoying the action. The story is quite lame really, we're used to the anti-hero disgruntled cop thing which Payne epitomises but it doesn't feel as authentic as it does before. We're also getting tired of his self-loathing and cheesy statements and the idea of going in gun-ho is nothing new, we're watching a mid-life crisis and it just lacks that edge that there was before.

The plot is about Payne having to run from New Jersey to Brazil and take up a personal security job looking after some rich family we don't care about. They are getting caught up in all the local and global politics and everything goes south real quick. That's about all I could make it, there's some twists and turns but to be honest you're just waiting for the next chance to shoot something.

Overall, this game is a smooth addition to the Payne serious and makes a nice transition from the despair of New York to the heat of Brazil. However, it's hard to feel sorry for a guy who is surrounded by beautiful women in the sun the whole time. There's a reason why Noir works so well in dystopian cities and Payne 3 proves it. An average story, some good graphics and decent but repetitive gameplay makes for a slightly above average experience. It's definitely not unmissable.

Rating: 7/10 

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