Publisher: Rockstar Games > Developer: Rockstar Studios > Systems: Xbox 360, PS3 > Rating: M
It’s been awhile since Max Payne last dove across the small screen—2003, to be precise, with Max Payne 2. Nearly ten years later Max Payne 3, the first in the series developed by Rockstar Games, represents the modernization of the franchise. The game is significantly more “realistic” in terms of its presentation and setting, and the change of pace is also reinforced by new cover mechanic.
The game is set in Sau Paulo, Brazil, and as in other Rockstar games, the new environment is rendered in exquisite detail, from its multihued sunsets to its fading street signage. Nightclubs throb with electronic music, children play soccer in the favelas, and a layer of grit runs across the whole city. Still, while Max Payne 3 has far more color than earlier MP titles, the content is still dark: Max is a pill-popping, hard-drinking antihero, and most of what you’re doing is killing fools. Videogame pacifists need not apply.
And much to its credit, the game effectively combines what Rockstar does best (creating a sense of place) with what former developer always did especially well with the franchise: high-octane, high-flying gunplay. Engaging slow-motion is intuitive, and three aiming options let you customize the gunplay to your liking: hard lock snaps your sights to the nearest enemy, soft lock stays locked on enemies once you've got them in your sights, and free aim puts you in total control. Regardless of the option you choose, shooting bad guys in Max Payne 3 feels great. Bullet time gives the gunplay further intensity, and doesn’t get old throughout the 10+ hour campaign.
A fantastic score by noise band Health, a host of fun and sometimes goofy multiplayer modes (with more limited Bullet time action), and style to spare makes Max Payne 3 a highly enjoyable ride from start to finish.
Hint: You can loot bodies in multiplayer for helpful items like adrenaline and painkillers.
by Devin Santos