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Max brings the Payne

June 7, 2012

By John Powell - G4 Canada

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Max Payne 3Eleven 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.
Even with his many flaws, we cannot help but to empathize with Max. The cynical ex-cop always tries to do the right thing, the noble thing, sacrificing himself to protect and avenge the innocent. A modern day gunfighter of sorts, Max is on the side of the angels even though his soul is far from being pure.

Max Payne 3 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.
In 'Max Payne 3', Max has left the grimy city streets of New Jersey behind after running afoul of the mob once again and opted for what he thinks will be a low-profile private security job in South America. Guarding the affluent Branco family in São Paulo, Max stumbles into trouble once again as a notorious gang targets the family.

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.

Max Payne 3 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.
When diving and shooting, Max now has the option of staying grounded after the dive and returning fire in a 360 motion. The one drawback is that sometimes the collision mechanics fail awkwardly especially if you are diving near or around solid objects. You can end up failing around in mid-air like a spastic zombie or trying to unsuccessfully target enemies through solid objects.

Max Payne 3 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.

Max Payne 3 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.
The mechanics that made the 'Max Payne' series so important in the evolution of first person shooters and video games in general may not be so revolutionary now but Rockstar has remained faithful to the original, recapturing the feel and tone as well as putting their thumbprint on the series with all of the refreshing improvements that have really taken things to the next level. Thanks to Rockstar, even though he may be a bit long in the tooth, Max Payne still kicks some serious ass.


Max Payne 3 Max Payne 3
Format: Xbox 360
Publisher: Rockstar Games
Developer: Rockstar Vancouver, Rockstar New England, Rockstar London, Rockstar Toronto
ESRB Rating: M for Mature 17+
Official Site:
Rating: 9.5 / 10

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