Max Payne 3 Review
- Posted May 14th, 2012 at 16:09 EDT by Steven Williamson
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Max Payne is one of the best videogame characters of all-time, and Max Payne 3 is one the best shooters.
- Unique storytelling from Rockstar with startling production values
- A believable lead character that draws you right into the action
- Exciting, challenging shoot-outs across some gloriously detailed environments
- Bullet-time is sometimes a hindrance rather than a help due to questionable hit detection
(continued from previous page) ...an airport, abandoned warehouse, football stadium and a cramped shanty town being among the backdrops, there’s plenty of variety in terms of level design with multi-tiered open environments giving way to claustrophobic bouts of up-close-and personal office-to-office warfare. Just like the original game, the focus is firmly placed on all-out action and gun battles as you take down a ludicrous amount of bad guys on your way from point ‘A’ to ‘B’.
Indeed, gameplay is just as linear as previous games, though players can stray slightly off the beaten track to search for L.A. Noire-style clues that plump up the back-story and pieces that make up the collectible golden weapons. Largely though, gameplay is about clearing areas of enemies before you can move on to the next bloody encounter. Rockstar has paced the game very nicely too so that during the latter third of the game the challenge and intensity gets even more ferocious.
One thing new to the series is the cover mechanic. Locations are littered with spots to hide behind. Enemies arrive in such vast numbers, also using cover, that diving behind a car or a wall soon becomes second nature. Bullet-time is as impressive now as it was the first time around, giving you the opportunity to go in all guns blazing as time slows down and you attempt to get clear head-shots on your opponents. The fact that the bullet-time metre refills over time also ensures that you need to use it strategically – in my case only during the times when I was seriously outnumbered.
In conjunction with traditional cover-based third-person shooter mechanics, bullet-time works extremely well, and the challenge is tough enough to ensure that a combination of both techniques is often needed to get through an area. Weapons pack a punch, but most impressive is their impact on enemies as you buckle foes to the ground with a knee shot or send them flying back a dozen yards like a rag-doll with a well-placed headshot.
No details have been spared in terms of gore and one of the most satisfying moves in the game is a close-up melee execution or the chance to spray bullets into your already dead foe in slow motion, just for the pure hell of it.
These bouts of area clearing are broken up impressively by cut scenes and interactive set-pieces that serve to add another level of excitement. Sniping from a helicopter as goons close in around the escaping Fabiana is one memorable scenario, but there are also many short scenarios where Rockstar places you in an exciting sequence of events that occasionally involves a forced-use of the bullet-time mechanic to deliver a cinematic moment.
Preventing Max Payne from being totally perfect is the fact that bullet-time hit detection can occasionally be hit or miss. Sometimes I was peppering enemies half a dozen times in the head and chest area before they died, but without bullet-time it would take them down with one head shot. Overall through, A.I. and animation is meticulous with enemies taking cover, reacting to your moves and providing a stiff challenge. The excellent physics engine also ensures that enemies die as realistically as you can imagine, toppling over balconies to their death and getting torn apart by a spray of bullets.
It’s not just Max's character that makes Max Payne’s 3 campaign so special either, but it’s the other characters he meets, the way the storyline is told and the stunning production. Rockstar’s been involved in many videogame masterpieces, from L.A. Noire to Grand Theft Auto, and its pedigree shows in Max Payne 3 throughout the entire campaign.
Indeed, the 10 hour story mode is more than enough to justify the price of Max Payne 3, but when you take into account the additional content in multiplayer you’ve got a game where you could easily have lots of fun playing through the five difficulty settings on single player before even starting on the crazy amount of online content.
Online you can go it alone or in teams in deathmatch scenarios and objective-based modes across a fine range of small and large maps inspired by the campaign. Once again the gameplay is firmly based around action, though the cover system also caters for campers and those who like to ... (continued on next page)