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Max Payne 3 Review
Developer: Rockstar Studios
Publisher: Rockstar Games
Platform: Playstation 3, Xbox 360, PC
Release Date: Out now
ESRB: M for Mature
This review is based on the Xbox 360 version of the game
It has been nine years since we last saw a Max Payne game. Nine years. That's a pretty big gap especially since there was only a two year gap between Max Payne and Max Payne 2. But the question is, do people still want to have bullet time? Do they still want to follow the former detective who lost the love of his life and his child in the same night (you're about nine years too late for spoilers)? More importantly, does Max Payne 3 still have the same type of boiled egg noir writing that was both cringe-worthy and endearing?
A lot of scenes are as awkward as this when dealing with bullet time...
Max Payne 3 starts out simple enough. It isn't at all a direct sequel since they put nine years between the events of two and three. A smart move depending on how you look at it. Max is still as... unique looking as ever. Even with the bumped up graphics given to him by Rockstar. That was actually a main concern leading up to the game's release, that they would somehow 'prettify' Max to keep up with all the pretty boys in other games. Yes, even the main characters in the Grand Theft Auto games are above average-looking. Max has always been... rather blocky.
Having moved on to bigger and better things since losing his wife and kid, Max has moved down South. Not... the Southern United States of America, but rather South America. He's down in Brazil, specifically. It's not uncommon for cops to move to private security jobs, and that is exactly what ol' Max has done. He actually seems to like his job, and he even likes his boss. But that's not entirely saying much. It's hard to tell whether Max likes anyone considering he's so cynical.
Either way, the game itself is not written by the original writer, Sam Lake. This fact does show a little bit but the new writer (Dan Houser) seems to have done his homework about how a Max Payne game should seem and sound. This is good news, as those who loved the writing style of previous games (which was often dorky) will love the dialogue for Max Payne 3.
Sadly Max looks like grandpa from Ben 10. Oddly enough, grandpa's name is Max. Probably a coincidence.
The problem with having so many years between games is that either the audience doesn't remember what happened or other things have moved in, used the same style, and the player just doesn't want to deal with the "original" game that started it all. This has become a problem for Max Payne 3. Other games have done bullet time. Other games have done gritty noir. At this point, the only thing keeping people playing the third installment is they want to see how the story goes for Max and whether he's finally found happiness.
When the first game arrived, it did a lot of things right. It's considered a cult classic alongside games like Legend of Dragoon. Max wasn't pretty, and the game itself wasn't pretty, even for its time. Maybe everyone just liked the idea of a man dealing with so much angst in his life. Or maybe it was the writing. The fact that he kept going regardless of anything else. The fact that his monologues always proved to be amusing...
Let's just say that Max Payne 3 continues the tradition of continuing on regardless of anything else. It may not be pretty, and the player may wonder how in the world Max is still breathing, but he continues on. The man falls and gets wounded more times than just about any other protagonist out there. Scripted falls, not just gameplay. The man is a walking pain pill by the end of things but that's really nothing new. Just remember not to overdose.
Max is also terrible with holding his gun at the ready
There's also a problem with the fact that bullet time is needed more as a life-saver than as a 'oh hey this is a cool feature.' And even then, more often than not death will take Max anyways. The controls are clunkier than in the original games, and then there's the fact that trying to get Max back up onto his feet is a chore in and of itself. It just ends up not being fun trying to do a level and surviving a shootout.
The only real saving grace that will keep the player playing is the fact that the story isn't over and it needs to be finished off. The writing is... not like in the previous games, and that really does show. Max's monologues are the same as they've always been, however. And if anyone is waiting for insanely long flashbacks - there will be plenty, but they are not in the same vein as the former games.
There are no quote en quote 'glitches' to really be aware of except for the fact that sometimes Max will seemingly get stuck in cover as if your commands never got sent through the controller. It doesn't particularly matter though, because the controls themselves are frustrating as is without such things.
Sadly, the game doesn't stand out that much. It doesn't put itself up above the others (which use the same mechanics), and in that respect, it's quite simply average. But, it's a fun romp and fans of the Max Payne games will do well to rent the game at the very least and finish the campaign.
+It's a game that doesn't take itself entirely seriously
+Fans of the last two games will appreciate the nods to the predecessors
+The game definitely looks prettier than the previous games
-The controls can more often than not be frustrating
-Getting out of bullet time is a bit more frustrating than in former games
-The story was not written by the original author and it does show a bit
Overall: 7.5 (out of 10)
Fans of the previous games probably won't be disappointed.
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