Rockstar has always had a place in my heart. Their wonderful creation of GTA III was the reason I got into gaming. It was so engrossing and so well done that I just fell in love with them. When I found out that another Max Payne was coming out, I flipped out. I was so excited. Nine years after the last Max Payne game was released, I can proudly say that Rockstar blew all my expectations away. It can also be considered Rockstar's greatest achievement.
Max Payne 3 follows Max Payne. His badge is gone and he is currently doing protection detail. He, however, has a slight problem. Due to the death of his wife, he turned his life to alcohol. While he is supposed to be protecting some of the richest people in Brazil, he is off at the bar drinking. A bunch of guys rush in, steal the very people he was supposed to protect. He fights his way to find out what exactly happened, and who they are. This story is also about him getting over his dead wife.
If you are new to the series, you don't need to know much. You do need to know that this series is where Bullet Time came to be. You can slow down time to use pin-point precision in your lovely headshots. Every shooter that uses this mechanic copies it from this series. Max Payne 3 takes what hwas already great and actually makes it better. Max can move at full speed down a hallway, only to have everything slow down around him. Bullets are seen in slow motion, making you able to dodge them with the greatest of ease. Bullet Time is built up by doing dangerous things, such as standing in the middle of a gunfight or making headshots.
A Last Stand mechanic is also introduced. If he has at least one painkiller out, he can get himself back up. The kick is that you need to kill the person that shot you. It can be treaky depending on where Max is laying on the ground.
Rockstar never allows for a dull moment in this game. After a giant wave of enemies, it still throws in surprise moments that always keep you on your toes. You are constantly moving at full speed, never stopping. The game has no loading screens so it truly feels like a movie experience, similar to the Uncharted series.
Fans of the series will notice that the Noir elements of the series are gone. They were portray using comic book style cutscenes. However, Rockstar seems to have went with the fully motion captured scenes. They are absoutely gorgeous. Even on the six-year-old consoles, they look stunning. In fact, Rockstar went all the way in making sure this game ran at its tip top shape. Added into the game are video distortion effects, each done when the game engine feels its fitting. It can be annoying at times, but it pays off. It shows the headaches from Max's hangovers actually affecting him.
The Euphoria engine, which is also known for some other Rockstar hits such as Red Dead Redemption and GTA IV, is the key to this entire mechanic. Kills never looked so good. When you fire a bullet, sometimes a bullet cam will take effect. You literally watch the bullet fly through the air and straight into their head. You can slow down the bullet using the main action button. The reflections off the bullet as it flies through the air are priceless. Other games also do this, such as Ghost Warrior and Sniper Elite, but those are nothing compared to this. The engine makes every movement incredibly realistic. You could be running down a road only to get shot in the leg. Max will fall, arms coming out in front of you to catch yourself. The same goes for the enemies.
Shooters such as the Battlefield series try to capture the power that guns wield. They let the screen fill with flashes of light. Rockstar once again are masters at sound. The dialogue is some of the best I have ever heard, putting in line with their other games. The sounds from the guns are also top notch. They feel lifelike in your hands. They let you know that they are capable of death, something they will gladly do.
New York Minute is also back. Players must finish a level in a certain amount of time. Each kill adds to the clock. Literally every second counts. It adds a very arcade feel to the game, which is perfect for those who just want to kill things. Players can also compete against each other for the best time. The levels are so well done that going through them never gets boring.
Max Payne 3 also offers a multiplayer experience. I previously thought that it was just another tacked on online feature, but I was so very wrong. Bullet time actually exists online. Players only in your sights are affected by the slowdown, allowing others to get past your watch if you aren't careful. There are a variety of modes to play in. Gang Wars is by far my favorite, assigning objectives to complete. They range from assassinating a team member to leading a full out assualt on a location for a simple bag of cash. The online modes are based on part of the sinple player narrative. The story chagnes depending on how well, or how badly, you are doing.
It is incredibly deep. There are a number of unlocks to be gotten, as well as a pretty impressive level tier. Countless hours can be wasted away in the online, with all the time being a absolute blast. It should be noted that Max Payne's online, as well as the upcoming GTA V's online, will be combined. Details are scarce at the moment on this however.
The single player clocks in at a impressive 15 hours.
Max Payne is a non-stop adrenaline rush. Max is still the depressing, gritty guy we as gamers have grown to love. He has truly had a hard life. You can't help but feel sorry for him. However, it's his own damn fault that he is this way. Rockstar has made something special. They continue to press forward, evolving the way games are told. It pays off in every single way.
This review was based on the Xbox version. The PC releases in two weeks, using the DX11 framework. The Xbox 360 uses DX9.