It took me longer to download Max Payne 3 than to actually beat the damn thing. I clocked around 8 hours on the default Normal setting, although it should be said approximately 2 hours of that time was spent watching cut-scenes. My initial impressions were not particularly good, but I’m pleased to say the game improved steadily throughout, and although I still have several gripes with MP3, I ultimately enjoyed it enough to immediately do a second run.
Max Payne 3 is a slick, polished and engaging third person shooter.
It has a strong, compelling story with some excellent
characterisation. It’s well directed and edited to a fine
precision, delivering a truly cinematic experience. It’s also
extremely linear and highly scripted, but thanks to the solid combat,
variety of difficulty settings and the additional Arcade game modes,
there’s enough replay value to warrant more than a single
Max Payne’s gameplay is famous for its use of bullet-time, the
slow-motion gunplay mechanic that has become a standard feature of
just about every shooting game going. Nevertheless, slow motion dodge
shoot-outs remain feeling as fresh and enjoyable in MP3 as they did
in the original, and they are well mixed with the more modern
gameplay additions of roll, crouch, prone and cover based shooting
The shooting is enjoyable, tightly balanced and satisfying. It also
looks extremely cool, at least until you perform a slow-motion dodge
into an empty room and slam into a filing cabinet. There’s a decent
selection of weapons available, some with optional attachments, and
Max moves with just the right amount of grace for an ageing,
painkiller addicted drunk.
There are 14 levels in all, a couple of which are gritty flashback
events, detailing Max’s journey from his home in New York to his
current predicament in Sao Paulo. As I said, my initial impressions
of Max Payne 3 were not very good. The opening section is fine as a
short, linear tutorial, but it unfortunately set the tone for the
next several chapters. It opens with a long cinematic to set the
scene before handing control to the player. A few moments later and
another short cut-scene interrupts play. And then again. And again.
Hell, I couldn’t even open a door without triggering another
this, unfortunately, is my biggest gripe with the game. In order to
maintain this strong cinematic experience, Max Payne 3 too often
wrestles control away from the player. I’m pleased to say these
irritating interruptions become less of a problem around chapter 6
onwards, but that’s nearly half-way through the game. And they are
often unnecessary too - I don’t need a bloody cinematic of Max
climbing a ladder or opening a door!
But beyond the mundane
environmental movement, there are also scenes where Max does some
very cool stunts - leaping onto a helicopter, for example. I know
these moments may not lend themselves to the movement and shooting
mechanics created for the game, but hell, at least give us a QTE or a
‘hammer the button’ moment - anything to give the player some
interaction in the scene as opposed to nothing at all. I generally
prefer to be playing
the game in front of me, not simply watching it play itself.
A lot of these early levels also feel very small and short. They’re
also largely forgettable in terms of design or set-pieces.
Fortunately, once you get further into the game, the levels open up
more, becoming larger, more visually interesting and more complex in
design. They also give the player more control. At one point Max was
shimmying along a narrow ledge. I expected another cut-scene, but I
was surprised when the game actually let me remain in control. Okay,
so it was only holding down a key for a few moments, but it’s
better than nothing.
The story is good, with a variety of interesting and well drawn
characters, but it is of course Max who steals the show with his
cynical dry wit. He goes through a rough time of it, as you would
expect, changing quite dramatically physically, and maybe a little
psychologically too, as he drags himself out of his own personal
I can’t comment on the Multiplayer side of the game, because I
didn’t bother with it. It just had no interest for me. There are
also a number of collectable items in the game and clues to find if
you like that sort of thing. Graphically, it looks great, even if a
few of the environments are a little bland.
Overall, Max Payne 3 is a worthy sequel to its predecessors. It’s
incredibly well presented, with excellent music and sound design,
great VA, a compelling story and central character with solid,
satisfying gameplay. If you’re a fan of the series, I don’t think
you’ll be disappointed with the direction of Max Payne 3, and if
you’re just a fan of third person shooters in general, you’ll be
sure to get quite the kick out of it.