This review is tough, aching, and hangover inducing. Like half a bottle of whiskey wasted on disinfecting a gun shot wound. The other half contributing to the other kind of wasted. Max Payne 3 seeps into your trigger finger down into your rage filled heart until all you know are headshots are gold and painkillers only last in your possession so long.
If you have played the first two Max Paynes then you know Max has gone through a lot of bad things in his life. Another way of looking at it is he encounters a lot failures and horrific tragedy and the only cure is to bury two bullets into each foe that dare cross paths.
Rockstar has made quite an interesting amalgam. They most recently have made Grand Theft Auto IV and Red Dead Redemption. Both amazingly free spirited wandering games that beg you to not do any necessary missions and instead steal a car and drive it on the tarmac of an airport or shoot a bartender and see how many deputies can chase you as you gallop to the border. Max Payne 3 is a different caliber.
You have the same basic controls such as a third person point of view, a cover system, and a dot based cross hair. What makes it different from the aforementioned masterpieces is a narrow hallway focused path. You have to encounter the enemy. You have to move on. And you most definitely have to kill each and every bad guy in your way. See, this isn’t a pick and choose type of game. This is a “Should I jump in guns blazing or stand behind a collapsing column knocking off each individual?” type of game. This doesn’t require much strategy but I can guarantee you will not survive trying the same angle each time.
There were moments where I became so increasingly frustrated at my current objective that I did the unthinkable and just jumped into the middle of the room, shot each bad guy in the head, took a painkiller from the two hits I received, reloaded my weapon, realized I was out of bullets, switched to my mini machine gun, and shot the last guy in the crotch. This all occurred before I landed. Yes Bullet Time returns in glorious fashion. Only bad thing is I didn’t actually hit the last guy, he was around the corner with a shot gun and took me out with one shot.
But the spirit of throwing out all of the norms presents itself time and again. Bullet Time may seem like an unfair advantage but so are 15 guys versus one. So if you can take a few shots and slow down time enough to carefully aim for a guy hiding behind a corner then it evens out in my book. Plus it’s a video game so some advantage has to be employed. The story of Max Payne 3 is basically a conundrum of more failures as life as an ex-cop who family was brutally murdered. Max pushes on after more clues present themselves and more enemies are uncovered.
You might ask the question that if the gameplay is so focused and you are basically shooting bad guys constantly then you will be bored right? Actually, no. I’m not a sadistic individual but the thrill of holding onto the last bit of life you have while facing impossible odds is quite addicting. You start to feel the anger in Max’s veins as he wants to get to the bottom of the web he is enthralled with mixed with the constant bullets of thugs and vigilantes out to get your blood. You may feel no remorse in taking out these men but that isn’t a bad thing.
You come to learn a few facts along the way. Men in bullet proof armor are tough to bring down. Every cop in Brazil wants to kill you. A dirty job requires a dirty individual. Max Payne 3 is a must play game. And vengeance is a dish best served with a tall bottle of whiskey. Half full.
P.S. I have dabbled a bit in multi-player and it is entertaining. It involves leveling up and deep character customization. Stay tuned for a comprehensive review on the multi-player portion alone.