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Game Review: Max Payne 3

Posted June 10, 2012 by Lisa McInerney in Action
Max Payne 3


Ramp Rating


Platform: , ,
PEGI Rating:
Release Date: May 18th, 2012


Exceptionally cinematic, high-octane thrillfest.


Dumber than a box of rocks.

Jaw-dropping visuals, intense gameplay and a plot that’d blow over in a strong wind; Max Payne is back and running the gauntlet yet again to sate our terrible bloodlust. Hasn’t that man suffered enough?

by Lisa McInerney
Full Article

Max Payne, everyone’s favourite embittered, drug-addled, good guy miscreant is back in a blood-pumping, blood-letting berserker rush through the sweatiest regions of exotic Brazil. If that’s not enough to sell Rockstar’s latest third-person actioner to you, you probably just need to fish your brain out and leave it on the couch.

The Max Payne franchise has arguably been more influential than commercially successful, peddling a slick mix of overwrought new-noir storytelling with exhilarating, John Woo inspired ‘bullet time’ effects. In its third instalment – the first written without the input of series creator Sam Lake – gone are the graphic novel interludes in favour of cinematic thrills and breakneck action. Max Payne 3 is a bloodbath … and very little else.

Max himself remains a miserable bastard, as luckless as a Yeti-spotter. Our reunion takes place in a New jersey bar, where Max, now retired from his depressing position at the depressing NYPD, is contemplating his maximum pain – yeah, you get it now – and gobbling analgesics to beat the band. Enter Raul Passos, who recruits Max as a private security agent in Brazil, but not before Max manages to piss off the entire New Jersey mob and take down eight hundred members of the cast of The Sopranos. All in a day’s drinking for our sullen hero. Having burnt his bridges with the southern half of Italy, Brazil it is, then, where Max gets entangled in an incredibly stupid, testosterone-soaked plot which involves him blowing away half of the population of the largest country in the Southern hemisphere, which he’s naturally completely unhappy about. All in a day’s pill-popping for our intrepid miseryguts.

This is hardly going to be a problem for most gamers – no one plays Max Payne for cerebral relief – and the brain-shatteringly stupid plot is balanced by some truly exceptional gameplay. There isn’t a single section in Max’s reluctant genocidal holiday that’s not flashy and beautiful to look at. The locales themselves are as inventive as a falling oak – Strip clubs! Back alleys! Assorted dives! – but the segues from bullet time or Last Stand, a nifty little feature that allows Max a final, slow-mo pop at an enemy close to killing him, go above and beyond expectations in how seamless they are. There is an immersive quality to Max Payne 3 that so many games cannot get right; it’s a masterclass in marrying art with technical wizardry.

Still, there is a nagging feeling that Max Payne 3 is all wizardry and no trousers. There is very little variety, and anyone expecting the open world freedom of Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto series or Red Dead Redemption will be sorely disappointed. Max is pretty much running a gauntlet from the moment you meet him to the bloody conclusion, and any diversity in the gameplay has to be plucked by the user from the options afforded to them by the bullet time and shoot-dodge techniques. It pretty much extends to whether you want to kill fifteen hoodlums by jumping to the left, or diving to the right. The checkpoint save system, something you’d think would be antiquated at this point, creates a sense of frustration that can only be assuaged by gamers who are happy to try dodging behind a different crate or shooting a different baddie first in each ‘level’ attempt; Max dies a lot. It’s difficult not to become frustrated when you have to start again from the last checkpoint after Max is photogenically butchered for the seventh time at the same point, but at least your shuffle through limbo is stylish and reasonably mesmerising.

There are a couple of other niggling doubts about the game: whether it’s ok that ninety-nine out of a hundred Brazilians are gun-toting, squawking Neanderthals, why all of the female characters spend their time crying or working in strip joints, why Max is wearing that awful shirt. This is why one’s better off leaving one’s brain on the couch. Max Payne 3 is high octane, glorious stupidity, a technically brilliant murderfest holding up a story that’s nowhere near as smart as it thinks it is.

About the Author

Lisa McInerney

Lisa’s soul is so damn sensitive, she has to invent and occupy parallel universes just to spread herself evenly. This is also known as being a frustrated novelist.

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