The perfect remedy for your modern shooter ills…
Rockstar don’t do things by halves. Every single game they’ve produced over the past decade, be it Grand Theft Auto 4 or Table Tennis, they’ve put their heart and soul into and Max Payne 3 absolutely sums up that work ethic and dedication. After snapping up the rights to gaming’s unluckiest cop it would have been easy for the collection of studios that worked on this sequel to merely pump out a quick ten-hour campaign closely following the beats cleverly put together by Remedy back in 2001, instead Max Payne 3 updates, emulates and adds to this series’ iconic third-person shooter gameplay with a new multiplayer component, a relentlessly gritty atmosphere and production values that are frankly off the charts.
The campaign picks up with the titular hero rescued from the gutter by his one time academy friend Raul Passos, who approaches Max with a job offer to protect a rich and powerful family in Brazil. Predictably enough their straightforward duties go awry faster than you can say “Mona Sax” leading to the duo being embroiled in a kidnap plot involving slum gangs, mysterious mercenaries and plenty of John Woo-inspired set pieces involving speedboats jumping off ramps, people hanging off helicopters and shooting missiles out of the sky with Max’s trusty arsenal of pistols, rifles and automatic weaponry.
Strangely despite the regularity of these Hollywood machismo moments, Max Payne 3′s campaign never feels anything less than gritty, immersive and at times unashamedly violent with characters which seem perfectly happy to carry out acts of callous cruelty against their fellow man. Remedy always knew how to draw the line under these events with comedic moments to alleviate tension, usually involving slapstick ‘gweedos’, bizarre shows like Address Unknown and our personal favourite Captain Baseball Bat Boy, but in this campaign there’s none of that. Instead the atmosphere Rockstar has created draws you into Max’s plight and never lets you go with cutscenes that disguise loading times brilliantly and a sterling soundtrack which is more than a little inspired by Drive’s sterling score. As a result the atmosphere is much more consistent and engrossing, with Max’s passion for grandiose monologues also returning to full effect, with references to everything from the the sanctity of mixing pain killers and alcohol to the problems associated with the growing poverty gap between the rich and the poor.
There were times when we just had to stop playing, not because we weren’t having fun dispatching armies of gangbangers and black-ops soldiers before an inevitable cutscene faded in – it’s just that we couldn’t take the foreboding atmosphere any more. For any game to maintain its oppressive tone for the entirety of a twelve-hour campaign is really impressive and surprisingly the repetitious gun battles which make up the majority of the gameplay don’t dilute that tension. The reason for this is quite simple; Max Payne 3 is a bloody hard game!
Unlike most modern releases, player health doesn’t regenerate over time with Max required to pick-up and ingest painkillers in order to numb his wounds and even on medium difficulty players can die after only being subjected to a handful of enemy bullets. Thankfully this game’s anti-hero hasn’t lost any of his agility or time-slowing skills, even though he’s getting on in years, and Rockstar has added a new cover mechanic which allows players time to survey the scene and let off some blind-fire before diving out of safety and unloading barrage of bullets into enemy skulls.
Tags: Max Payne 3
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