God Damn It!
We've talked at length about the review process at GameRevolution. Hopefully, the staff maintains a thoroughly transparent position on our reviews, so that's why I want to start off with an issue I think affected my time with Max Payne 3.
Rockstar's latest blockbuster features lots of great action, gameplay, exposition, and multiplayer, but the roughly 12-hour campaign can be quite a slog, especially if you're forced to sit down and play the game through from start to finish as fast as possible.
I don't think those are normal circumstances for many gamers, but it made the single-player campaign particularly mundane. Thankfully, Max Payne 3's strengths help the title dodge many of the complaints I made around hour eight when a particularly challenging section had me slamming my head repeatedly into my desk.
If you don't know the story so far, you've probably been as drunk as Max for the past decade. With his family gunned down and everything he's ever loved taken away from him, Max Payne 3 sees the titular hero jetting off to Sao Paolo, Brazil. There, he's tasked with protecting a wealthy businessman, Rodrigo Branco, and his trophy wife.
Unfortunately for Max, sh**'s f***ed up. That kicks us off on our little journey of redemption, payback, and gray-area heroism. You will kill tons and tons of people in your effort to get back Rodrigo's wife. You'll kill gangsters, slumlords, mercenaries, cops, ex-cops, thugs, Jersey Shore lookalikes, and mobsters… and then some. It almost feels like you're killing far too many people.
I'm warning you. While I usually love every second of these blockbuster experiences, there's quite of bit of padding and repetition. Environments are different. Enemies are different. But the gameplay remains largely unchanged from beginning to end.
Still, bullet time, shoot-dodging, and the resulting violent ballet of death are stylish, strategic, and overall superb. Max doesn't just hang out behind cover, he leaps over it to wipe out, say, four enemies at once. It's the way Max flies around a corner to surprise a handful of thugs with metal rain from an Uzi. It's the way the original Max Payne games wanted to pull it off, but the computing power just wasn't there.
Now, individual gun components are animated and every single bullet is given a trajectory and weight. When you eliminate the final enemy in the area and continue to pump him full of lead in the killcam, his body parts will fly around as buckshot hits them over and over again.
And holy crap is Max Payne 3 bloody, violent, and glorious. If you're going to create a game that involves murdering this many people, you might as well want it to look good. The Euphoria character physics engine continues to astound. How are developers not all working with this tech?
Everything is gritty, hyper-detailed, and gorgeously animated. You can feel the hands behind the scenes, coding each and every piece of crap littering the favela slums. These details are fortunately not absent in MP3's shallow, yet engaging, multiplayer modes.
The biggest complaint you can volley against the competitive modes in Max Payne 3 is that leveling up and having to unlock everything is a huge slog. And that's it. While there's only two unique game modes, they're basically made up of like 12 different conflicts. In Gang Wars, players will move from one objective to the next, with the previous round affecting the next and eventually the final outcome. 8-on-8 multiplayer is just crowded enough that you'll never wonder where everyone is.
Still, they don't feel too populated either—and thankfully so. Multiplayer abilities like Bullet Time affect everyone around the player, not just attacker and defender. The transition between slow-mo and regular speed, and between any of the other multiplayer abilities isn't too jarring either, but smart use of these abilities is absolutely essential on your way to a win.
Payne Killer is a juggernaut-esque mode that puts two players in the shoes of single-player characters Max and Raul as agents of death. The remaining players will have to team up to take them down, but once an attacker takes Max or Raul out, they will switch roles.
Max Payne 3 is yet another amazing Rockstar game. It's worth your money and your time, especially if you enjoy competitive multiplayer. Still, know that you'll get the most out of the single-player if you pace yourself. (Because reviewing Max Payne 3 on a deadline like this was such a… pain.)