It’s hard to believe but it’s been a solid 9 years since everyone’s favorite pill popping, bullet dodging, hard-boiled cop graced retail with a new release. It’s been a long time coming through multiple delays, but Max is finally back and a bit different from where we left him. He’s left the NYPD and is quickly entering a downward spiral after the events of the second game. He’s seemingly offered a second chance as a security consultant for a wealthy family down in Sao Paolo, Brazil. With development on Max Payne 3 shifting away from original developer, Remedy Entertainment, to the guys over at Rockstar Vancouver, how have things panned out?
Full Impressions after the jump…
First things first, Rockstar has nailed the style and settings that makes Max so cool. James McCaffrey was brought back in to voice Max and the development team also moved to motion capture which makes the performances on the screen even more believable before. The game is dripping with noir style and the cutscene’s feature that classic feel with panels shifting and key words flashed on-screen every now and then. Max still narrates as if he’s going through an internal monologue with himself.
The music is also a major highlight for me and believe me when I say that you’ll be seeing more of this in a future edition of Soundtrack Central. The band, Health, was brought in by Rockstar to lend their unique style to the game’s soundtrack. They basically had free reign to score the game and chose to base their music on the gameplay, syncing the action on the screen to the particular rhythm and beats that you’ll hear. It’s extremely hard to pinpoint the type of music they create but it’s very atmospheric, kind of like noise rock. Either way, it’s fantastic stuff.
The technology they’ve put in here is also very praiseworthy. For one, loading screens are completely absent, instead hidden behind cut scenes. It’s fantastic but if you’re replaying missions, the unfortunate side effect is that you can’t skip through them. The Euphoria engine is on full display here and completely blows away any other game that has used it before. Enemies behave and take a bullet so realistically, it’s downright scary. Max can also use cover in this game but there’s now some environmental damage so don’t expect to be able to hunker down for long. I think modern games have spoiled me as Max doesn’t have regenerating health. You’ll need to pop some pills to restore your health and believe me, they can be hard to come by.
The game plays just as you remember, third person action that favors more run and gun style than cover based, tactical shooting. Max’s signature Bullet Time is back on full display as building an adrenaline meter will let Max slow down time and shoot dodge, where he dives as time slows and he fires off shot after shot. It’s all very impressive and when you kill the last man in the room, the camera pans around to the bullet flying out of the chamber and following it as it impacts the enemy in all its bloody glory. Enemies are highly intelligent, always trying to get the drop on you whether that be through flanking your position or getting a better vantage point on you. While great for gameplay, the game can sometimes seems stacked against you in terms of difficulty as I have noticed spikes every now and then, especially at the end of chapters. Ammo can run out at in opportune times as well.
I’ve put in a little time to the multiplayer but not enough to feel comfortable in making judgements about it. It’s your traditional third person action with Bursts that act like perks and bullet time which affects everyone that is looking at someone being affected. It helps balance things and it works great. I’m having a good time with it so far, including the new modes like Payne Killer, where everyone teams up trying to kill a player who’s Max and another player who’s his sidekick Passos. It’s chaotic fun for sure. I’ve tried to play multiplayer’s most touted feature, Gang Wars, where the matches shift depending on what happens during gameplay including a narration by Max himself. Both times I’ve tried to play, the game froze up my console. Weird, but I’m hoping it was just a fluke. I’ll continue to try to play as I’m really interested in trying this mode out.
Rockstar has managed to revive a franchise which most people probably forgot about. They nailed the signature style and one could argue that this is the best game Rockstar has made to date. Max Payne 3 really shines bright and proves that Rockstar knows how to nail the mature game.