Tech News on G4
Max brings the Payne
June 7, 2012
By John Powell - G4 Canada
Eleven years ago, Max Payne burst upon the scene both guns blazing and the alcoholic, pain pill-popping anti-hero is still as angry as ever.
Like The Punisher but without the flashy costume, Max is permanently pissed off over the loss of his wife and son at the hands of murderous mobsters. Dulling the pain with drugs, booze and brutal violence, Max cannot escape the grief and strife that seems to follow him wherever he goes.
Inspired by hard-hitting pulp novels and film noir movies, the Max Payne series has never apologized for its murky tone or its hardcore violence; and nor should it. Like a John Woo movie come to life, each installment has been as hard hitting as the last.
Fans such as me, who grew up playing the original games on the PC, will be glad that the mechanics which set the series apart have returned better than ever. Bullet-Time, the ability to stall time and attack in slow motion, returns as does the Shoot-Dodge mechanic permitting Max to dive forwards or backwards while firing at the same time. None of these ever gets old.
Developers Rockstar Vancouver (in collaboration with the New England, London and Toronto studios) have also added two new mechanics to Max's arsenal. 'Last Man Standing' allows Max to thwart death if he has at least one pain pill hit on hand. If so, Max has the chance to pin-point his "primary attacker" and squeeze off a kill shot as he heals himself. The difficulty with this move is if Max is battling numerous assailants, it can be tricky cycling through the foes to determine who in fact is the "primary attacker". If you can't do so quickly enough, you are done like dinner.
The other noteworthy imperfection is you have to riddle your opponents with bullets to make sure they are dead as many of them can take three or even four hits before going down for good. Although they may drop to the ground in a heap, don't be too quick to count them out. In a chaotic firefight where bodies and bullets are flying everywhere, if you don't make sure the dead are truly dead, they could come back to ventilate your brain. If Max returns for a fourth kick at the can, the developers should change these animations so players know for sure when a baddie has been erased for good.
As with Rockstar's 'Red Dead Redemption" and "L.A. Noir", "Payne" is steeped in an atmosphere that plays into the hardboiled detective novel feel and Payne's own frenzied perception of the world around him. Erratic scan lines, shifting colours and some disjointed cinematics enhance the sense that we are witnessing the world through Payne's warped sense of reality. The production work is exemplary.
Although this is a Rockstar game don't expect a roaming, open world adventure like the ones you have experienced in 'GTA', "Noir' or 'Redemption'. Whether it be in an oily warehouse, a sleek office building or a bustling city street, your missions will follow a distinctive path you cannot really stray too much from.
The new multi-player option is, for lack of a better term, just killer. Whether you are squaring off against other squads in objective-based missions or just blowing everyone else away, there is nothing like competing in Bullet-Time duel with another player.
Max Payne 3
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