Max Payne 3 Review


It’d be unfair to expect me to write a full review of Max Payne 3 because Max Payne 3 isn’t really a full game. Yes, it does meet the minimum requirements of ‘is a game controlled by a player’, but it’s far less of a game than say, Point Blank. At least in Point Blank there isn’t an illusion that there should be so much more than a simple shooting gallery, or have the option to be more and simply refuse to acknowledge it. Also, the main characters in Point Blank looked kind of like muppets, and if there’s only one thing in this world I love, it’s muppets. Max Payne is a muppet, but of a completely different variety.

RockStar normally know how to tell a great story, but I have a feeling the meeting discussing how to properly promote the narrative went something like this:

“We have an amazing story.”

“Can it be made to last nine hours?”

“No, but we’ll just add a whole bunch of crap to make it last longer.”

“Good idea. What happens in between the narrative?’

“I don’t know…shooting? People really love shooting stuff.”

“Alright, so we have a movie-length plot stretched four times longer than necessary and shooting. BAM! Game of the year.”

Nothing says fun like muppets and guns

Max has taken up residence in Sao Paulo as a hired gun protecting a wealthy family from the poor people who seem intent on interrupting every social outing they have with AK’s. The family is made up of three brothers; Rodrigo, a businessman; Victor, a politician; and the party-going runt douchebag of the litter, Marcelo. After Rodrigo’s wife is kidnapped, Max goes to extraordinary lengths to save her. Lengths that will test your ability to defy your preconceived notions of reality. Not necessarily because of the boat chase, or the explosions, or getting shot constantly; it’s more because you realise after several hours of play you’ve been doing sweet FA besides trying to find this guys wife and the story hasn’t progressed in any meaningful way.

At first, Max is a sympathetic character. He’s had some hard times, and despite constantly insisting that he’s a screw-up and that he’s the cause of all the ills that have befallen him, you know that he’s intrinsically a good man. After enduring his non-stop whining for a few hours, you stop caring and start wishing for his imminent demise. By the time Max went through his epiphany and shaved his head, I was silently praying that this was the moment he decided that nothing was going to get better and give his pistol it’s last kiss goodbye before pulling the trigger. Unfortunately he doesn’t, and relentlessly pushes on with his whining, every five footsteps making a comment on himself and how bad he is and how much his life sucks and the people he’s hurt and the women he’s lost and please for the love of god make it stop.

I don’t know if this was RockStar’s attempt to put me in the mindset of Max, but if it was, good job. I also felt a little bit suicidal when I was playing it.

Oh look, more things to shoot.

Max Payne can feel like an ever-retreating corridor, and not because the gameplay is simply running down Naughty Dog-level-of-beauty corridors. Like Uncharted, and so many narrative driven third-person shooters before it, Max Payne 3 doesn’t have the imagination to add in any challenges besides ‘you are at (x), you must get to (z) and the obstacle (y) is shooting about three hundred guys.’ The cover system is fairly average (and as the average cover system is bad, let’s say bad) and the guns and gunplay are as much fun as you can expect from a mechanic that’s been considered mundane for the past five years.

I can almost hear people thinking ‘But what about bullet-time?’ Well what about it? It’s been done to death everywhere, and if anything Max Payne 3 uses it in a terrible, terrible way. Instead of being a spectacle, a show of prowess or even just ‘not what is normally happening,’ using bullet-time is essential to progressing, and it gets old very, very quickly. There are five guys shooting at you, so you shoot at them enough to build your bullet-time meter, then you finish them off with the meter, rinse and repeat, rinse and repeat, rinse and goddamn repeat.

When I say all you do is shoot in Max Payne 3, I mean exactly that. You have control of Max when you’re in gunfights and walking in between gunfights. Nothing else. Cut-scenes serve as the break in between shooting and walking, and someone had the great idea to end some cutscenes with Max sprinting towards the enemy position without so much as a warning to you, the person who is supposed to have control over that one part of the game. If you’re lucky, you’ll hit the bullet-time fast enough and take care of the squad of heavily armed goons all in one go, because if you don’t, there’s a good chance they will shoot you full of holes so you have to start again, once again charging in like a fat kid after cake.

I found Max Payne 3 a chore to play. Besides collecting ‘Golden Gun’ pieces (which give the weapons they represent 10% more damage and more ammo per clip) there isn’t much else to do. There’s no skill element, its challenges are unimaginative, and while the environments are beautiful, they’re stupidly linear considering the massive amount of potential to make it feel like the player had any choice at all in which direction to go.

  • PS3

The Verdict

Ultimately Max Payne 3 is a tedious experience that stretches what should have been three or four hours of fun into nine or more hours of doing the same, boring things over and over again.
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