Max Payne 3 Review – One Of The Best Stories In Video Game History

After years of waiting and months of teasing, Max Payne 3 is here for the masses. How does an older, wiser Max and his adventure in Brazil live up to his previous outings? Is it as amazing as Rockstar would have us believe?


Dark tale of vengeance and redemption -When it comes to storytelling, the Max Payne franchise has always been up there with the greatest tales ever told in the video game medium. Max Payne 3 takes this to a whole new level, delivering one of the best tales of all time, as we follow Max through thick and thin.

A few years older than we last saw him, the story follows Max to São Paulo, Brazil where he is a bodyguard to the wealthy Branco family. The city is rife with crime and paramilitary groups, and when Branco’s wife is kidnapped and held for ransom, Max falls into yet another dark tale of vengeance.

Unlike previous entries in the series, Max shows a complexity and emotional vulnerability that we have never seen before. When we first meet Max he is a borderline alcoholic who pops painkillers like they are pieces of candy. By the end of the journey we see a tale of redemption as Max takes matters into his own hands. It’s a fulfilling story that will resonate with you long after the 12 hour campaign has been completed. Rockstar have excelled yet again with their storytelling prowess.

Environments are spectacular – Unlike other Rockstar adventures which are set in an open world, Max Payne 3 is largely a linear affair which means the team could really cram in a massive amount of detail into the game world. Papers fly from desks as you shoot your way through an office building, kids are playing soccer in alleyways as you traverse the slums, and the city skyline looks spectacular from the roof tops of São Paulo. Character and weapon animation is amazing, yet the environments you will explore are simply spectacular, making Max Payne 3 one of the best looking games this generation.

Voice acting is outstanding – A great story is one thing, but you need convincing voice actors to truly bring the message home. James McCaffrey reprises his role as the champion of one-liners, and brings a new side to Max we have never seen before. His supporting cast do a great job to carve out their own personalities, and the combination of the main cast create a varied and interesting narrative.

It’s the little things that count – The way the bullet casings fly in the air as the bolt slides in the gun with every shot, the way wood splinters apart when under heavy fire, or just the way Max moves through the environment and dynamically reacts in accordance with his surroundings. It’s the little things that count, particularly when the action is slowed down in Bullet Time. Even the way blood spurts (and there is certainly a lot of gore) is spectacular and needs to be seen to be believed.

Engaging multiplayer – Max Payne 3 actually packs in a surprising amount of multiplayer content that will keep you coming back for more. While the standard Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch modes are there, it’s Gang Wars and Payne Killer that are the real draw cards here. With a series of perks (called bursts) including Bullet Time, a great arsenal of unlockable gear and weapons, and the ability to create crews for your friends to join, people should invest a good portion of their time into Rockstar’s latest multiplayer offering.

Long life – Max Payne 3 gives you a 12 hour campaign, and then offers you an arcade mode where you try to get the highest score possible. Then there is the New York Minute mode; you have one minute to finish a level and each kill will grant you extra time. If that isn’t enough for you, we have the aforementioned multiplayer offering which has some serious staying power. Rockstar have also promised a slew of DLC, which should keep you busy for months to come.

Shootdodge is mostly ineffective – While standard Bullet Time slows the action down and is quite effective, Max’s shootdodge manoeuvre looks awesome, but thanks to the implementation of the cover mechanic, isn’t very effective in the single-player campaign. Enemies tend to take cover a lot of the time, ruining your chances of scoring a super sweet headshot mid-dive. Thankfully the mechanic is far more effective online against human opponents.

Cutscenes feel drawn out during opening act – If you’re not a huge fan of the series, then chances are you will feel the opening of the game drag quite a bit. The cutscenes really setup the story for what is about to unfold, but at times it feels like you’re viewing an interactive movie rather than playing an action game. It’s not a bad thing if you love your stories, but if you just want to shoot things hard and fast, you may feel a little bogged down during the opening act.

The return of Max Payne is a memorable one. Featuring one of the best stories I’ve ever played, along with some of the most detailed environments and amazing shooting mechanics, Max Payne 3 delivers a pitch perfect gameplay experience that doesn’t change the industry, but does it better than anyone else has before. Throw an enticing multiplayer package into the mix and you have a game that is well worth your consideration, despite whether you are a fan of the first two titles.

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