Max Payne is old. Not just as a character, which he’s constantly reminding you, but also as a franchise. Max Payne has survived nearly 11 years, that’s saying a lot. So how does the latest Max Payne stack up to it’s older, saltier predecessors? I have no clue because I never played them.
Max Payne began with a cliche story, cops family gets killed, he avenges them, game over. They managed to make three games and one movie out of this concept, so it has to be a successful one. But what do you do after you’ve avenged your family? Is the gap that’s left just fill with happiness and butterflies? Of course not, you become a drunk and work private security. Max isn’t a mall cop by any means, in Max Payne 3 he’s taken his skills to Sao Paulo, Brazil to bodyguard the rich & famous Branco family. Bad luck is Max’s forte, so of course kidnapping and deceit are a sure thing. Max has to wade through the lies of the rich and the muck of the favelas if he expects to come out of this installment alive.
Having never played any of the previous Max Payne games, or even watched the movie, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Max Payne has a complex control scheme, one that uses two different buttons for slow-mo, others for it’s decent cover system, weapon swapping, and change of player position. Combine those with a very small hud, one that only shows a silhouette of Max in the corner that slowly fills with each bullet entering his body, and a vertical bar that shows how much slow-mo you can use. There is no tutorial about the hud, and I had no idea pills refilled my health, or even what that vertical bar meant until around the fourth chapter. Diving and cover are essential combat tactics, while crouching and prone proved useless since the enemies have immaculate aim.
Diving is essential, and the developers want you to use it… as much as possible. The cover system is decent, but soon proves useless since it seemed like every enemy was a kamikaze bomber running straight at you. Close quarter combat is not Max Payne 3‘s strong point, making diving from encroaching enemies a must. Combat did seem smooth and straight forward, once you understood that diving and slow-mo were meant to always be used. A very cool concept I liked in the game was Max’s inability to carry more than three guns at a time. You could carry two small pistol size weapons (Glock, Mac 11) and a larger weapon requiring two hands to fire (Shotgun, Ak47). Max doesn’t just throw the larger weapon seamlessly behind his back, he holds onto it and fires the pistols with his other one free hand. Although I thought this would be hard to do, being trained as only a New Jersey beat cop, it was a very cool concept that felt true to life. Besides a few hiccups in enemy AI and CQC, Max Payne 3‘s combat system was pretty solid.
In fact Max Payne‘s 3 combat is the glue that holds the game together. You use it, and you use it often, almost too often, with a story that’s repetitive and confusing, you’re soon just running and gunning though the game killing literally thousands of goons and lackeys. The story points becoming increasingly repetitive and unemotional, save the girl, helicopter sequence, save the girl, boat sequence, save the girl, tram sequence, I could continue but I think you get the picture. Add in golden gun pieces I have to locate and soon Max just becomes some mad killer ex cop who murders dudes and looks for treasure, John McClane meets Nathan Drake. I do have to admit his taste in attire were pretty righteous, his tropical shirt that he wears through the ghetto favelas was awe inspiring. I wish I could have worn it the whole game. Besides Max’s majestic tropical shirt, the games soundtrack was probably the highlight of the entire game. When I was feeling withdrawn from the game slaying hordes and hordes of unnamed minions, the music would successfully draw me back in, like a second wind, a breath of fresh air out the stank ridden sewers.
Max Payne 3 was a well developed game that stayed far past it’s welcome. I enjoyed certain parts, but didn’t enjoy those same parts when I played them again, just in different skin. The twists and turns of plots work for Guy Ritchie films, but were lost and disconnected in Max Payne. I thoroughly enjoyed the combat to a point, but like everything else with Max Payne 3, it became staggeringly monotonous. Finishing it didn’t feel like an accomplishment, it felt more like a relief, and seeing only 7% of trophies achieved felt like a slap in the face for my time rendered. Max Payne 3 is a AAA title that aimed for an Oscar, but unfortunately went straight to DVD. This isn’t a bad thing, it just needs direction to the right audience, the audience that wants to spray more bullets and think less.
Back to the Farm.