Max Payne 3. A UthMag Review
The Max Payne franchise has always been known for its dark, gritty, mature, self-deprecating and neo-noir style of gameplay. The third person shooter has been overshadowed by the excessive amounts of pure FPS in stores today. This game however, blows all of those games into the sea and keeps them buried underneath there.
At the onset, Max is seen as the same player he was 9 years ago. An honest, brave and pessimistic drunk addicted to painkillers. In typical Max Payne style, the more he tries to make right, the more wrong simply happens. In this third instalment, instead of embracing his demons, he faces an inner conflict of either running away from his demons or facing them head on in one final saving grace.
Yes, it has been 9 years since the last Max Payne game and I’m happy to report that this game has indeed been worth the wait. Here’s why…
The game starts off in a sunny, colourful and vibrant rooftop party high above a tower in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Max has since retired from the NYPD of the last game and is now a bodyguard to one of the wealthiest families of Brazil, the Branco family. This time, he doesn’t seem to be alone and the game immediately pushes in a friend and co-worker named Raul Passos, a native of Brazil himself. From here on however, in classic Max Payne style, things go wrong. Horribly wrong.
Graphics and Environment:
Gorgeous is an understatement. The third instalment in the franchise takes a welcome change from 24/7 dark noir visuals to plush, rich and colourful environments that heavily immerses the player in the game quite easily. One chapter takes place in the middle of a nightclub and the lights, the music, the rich animations of little details like helpless civilians (who look very much alive in every chapter), fragile objects and even bullets only help to intensify the situation Max’s bad luck gets him into. Another chapter takes place inside a supposedly abandoned building. The grim, dark and decaying environment steps up with graphically brutal details, kills and circumstances. This game, despite being less dark graphically is indeed much dark and grim in its setting. Cutscenes give homage to its roots with a hint of comic sketch style of playing along often making you feel like you’re fuzzy yourself, right along with Max.
Attention to technical detail is where this game well and truly excels. Every frame, area and scene has little details that make the game an even bigger treat to play. Tiny details like kids playing football in the favelas, each and every couple on the dancefloor dancing differently compared to others and the like all help game immersion. The game’s RAGE and Euphoria engines help seamlessly transit action without pause keeping you on the edge almost all the time.
Max, in this game however, certainly has more character and a different range of emotions rather than the one-note character of the earlier Max Payne games. He’s added a bit of a more poetic and philosophical quality about him as he suffers through mid-life crisis and all of the comments he has over every single scene, object or action has you believing that the character is real. He’s become more ‘human’ and this is reflective of the supporting cast as well. For example, the Brazilians in the game actually speak Portuguese(not translated in subtitles) with each other instead of speaking in English as a cheap trick to help the gamer understand better. As a result, you find yourself relating to the totally Portuguese-Illiterate Max even further.
Fantastic. Bullet-time has never been so jaw-dropping. You can actually see the bullets coming at you and from you piercing bodies everywhere. You can even slow down time just to enjoy the show temporarily during a ‘final kill’. His shootdodge manoeuvres help go for an all-guns blazing move when you desperately need it. And you WILL find yourself needing it. This game is not for the faint of heart. It can indeed get incredibly grim and depressing in its storyline and it can also get frustratingly hard if you can’t stock up on painkillers or if you’re simply an impatient player. Shooting is easy and guns feel as powerful as they should be. The game is not action all the time though, after you’ve managed to clear a wave of enemies, it allows you to travel a bit further undisturbed, resting your adrenaline and taking in the environment before going absolutely bonkers yet again. It’s a tried a tested formula that certainly seems to work with this game. Also, this game unlike most games this era isn’t easy. It can be a frustratingly hard game, it needs more of reflexes than of pure logical thinking and this can tire your thumbs out. It strangely does feel nice to know that there finally is a great and challenging game.
Max’s narrative is sound. It’s well thought out and contains an engaging and gripping storyline. His comments can be philosophical, self-deprecating and is an abundance of dark humor. The environment certainly helps immerse the player in the game further but sometimes, the player can help but feel wondering ‘wait! That doesn’t make as much as sense as it should’. For the pedantic gamer like myself, one scene where Max, after taking down 100’s of men by himself and unhindered, stupidly enters a favela shack and doesn’t bother pulling the trigger to create a darker plot twist within the game and you end up feeling a tad bit ‘incomplete’ with that twist. The writing does however have plus points in allowing the player to have flashbacks, some of them being from 9 years ago back in New Jersey to explain how he got to Brazil and why.
Excellent environment and animations as well as gameplay, fun Multiplayer and also, BULLETTIME!
Seemingly lazy plot writing.