Wot I Think: Max Payne 3

By Jim Rossignol on June 4th, 2012 at 6:00 pm.


Max Payne 3‘s dive on to PC was in such slow motion that it took a few weeks longer to land than it did in augmented-televisionland. But it’s here now, and the critical shell-casings are beginning to chime on the concrete floor. Here’s how I heard them ring out.

Max Payne 2′s subtitle was – perhaps unnecessarily – “The Fall of Max Payne”. It’s a description that seems entirely appropriate in retrospect, and most definitely fits the Mr Payne of the third game, who has truly fallen. He is now a sinewy, self-pitying middle-aged drunk whose damaged consciousness filters the entire game with a poisoned, hallucinogenic migraine of blurring, double-vision, and post-processing glitchery. Such a constant bombardment of pseudo-hungover, detuned distortion was a brave move, and it came so very close to not working. The comic book noir of the original has been rerolled as postmodern cinema. It’s dripping with film-school trickery and action-movie reference. The satirical, even surreal silliness of the first two games has been replaced with a more acerbic line in self-loathing wisecracks. That could have failed to be interesting, could have lost the thread entirely.

But it works. Just about. And that’s symptomatic of the entire game. It could so easily have missed its mark, fluffed the headshot. But it’s okay. They’ve done it. The third Max Payne game is a potent cocktail of thumping videogame violence and Rockstarian sleaziness, with a heady shot of technology and character mixed in. James McCaffrey does his best Max so far. A couple of lines made me laugh out loud.


Max Payne 3 is different enough to stand far apart from the previous games, and strong enough in its delivery of slow-motion embittered ex-cop to convince me that it’s an okay sequel. That alone should be as far as many of you need to read, I suppose. But I’m not going to leave this joint without unloading some of my reservations. Despite my upfront positivity, I’m not entirely smitten with Rockstar’s hype-logged takeover of the Max Payne series – the rave response it received on the consoles seems a little much for a game that, despite Max’s long absence, sits firmly within the kind of problem area outlined in this article from last week’s Sunday Papers. There’s too much game here, and it’s too vigorously delivered, for me not to recommend it, but it left me feeling slightly unfulfilled. Yes, you probably should play Max Payne 3. It’s spectacular shooter. But there’s a hollowness, too.

I can’t quite identify what’s missing. And I am not sure it’ll matter, because the production is so lavish. The gilded hand of Rockstar is visible in almost everything. The barrelling back and forth between corrupt, glitzy high society and grimy, glittery low-life criminality. The cutscenes that ache to be true cinema, the humour in the media-baiting ultraviolence. Of course it lacks the trademark open-worldiness of their original games. There’s the occasional open area to run around in, but this is a firmly story-driven conveyor belt of gun-action. But we shouldn’t expect anything else from this gangster gun-ballet sequel. Everything in the single-player part of the game is Payne through the filter of Rockstar: Gritty, funny, horrible.


As important as it is to the overall experience, it seems pointless to say too much about the story, though I do want to make a couple of points. Firstly, I think the relocation to Sao Paulo (there are still New York scenes, too) works well. This is down to Rockstar’s virtuoso environmental design, and flare for place and detail, as well as their execution of the cutscenes. There’s a diversity of locations that make a lot of sense. Sure, it’s not exactly the same flavour of tenement noir, but it works just well enough for it to have been a good decision. Secondly, I think Rockstar spoilered some of what could be been the best surprises in the game with what the showed of it before release. That’s a shame and, well, I think you’ll see what I mean when you play it.

So let’s turn to the mechanical stuff: the shooting and diving around. Max might be a 40-something strip of pickled scar tissue in Max Payne 3, but he isn’t afraid to leap blindly down some stairs. The consequences of this are consistently compelling, mostly because Rockstar’s character movement systems are astonishingly believable. Leap backwards into a pillar and Max will collide with it realistically, sending you spinning if you caught it right. He crunches into walls, rolls down stairs. His dives now always end you with you in a prone firing position, twisting to where you aim, so you can finish off your engagement from the ground, before getting up, still firing. And it’s all so slick and integrated, one move flowing into the next. It can be amazing to watch.


It’s all hung on exactly the same systems that powered the first two games, of course: hitting a key to put it into (limited) bullet time, and diving to dodge (and slowing time there, too.) As ever, that’s a brilliant mechanic that works best in really interesting situations, where you diving into the unknown, and taking down multiple assailants, each with a perfect headshot.

It takes a while for the awesome cool of the bullet-time promise to wear off, but it eventually does. Max Payne 3 is a fairly long fourteen chapters, and although I played it through in a couple of (lengthy) sittings, I felt like I’d seen enough before it ended. Partly, I suspect, this is down to the sheer repetition of dive-shoooooot-shoot-shoot-dive-shoooooot-shoot. That feeling of gun-grind is emphasized by a few bottleneck difficulty spikes, too. They’re peculiar, and leave you feeling frustrated. They seem poorly choreographed, or improperly structured. They’re not the only chafe, either. I was particularly irked by arbitrary failure conditions – failure for taking cover on some stairs and leaving a dude you were escorting, failure for diving off a pier into the water. Thanks to checkpointed saves, these are occasionally numbing failures, forcing you to replay a long old section. There’s not even quite enough ammo. Hmm, I feel like I shouldn’t be complaining about these things, but it’s the fatigue talking.

Anyway, those are the key gripes, so let’s fish out the key point again: I cannot emphasize how beautifully refined movement is in Max Payne 3. It’s an exquisite, fluid thing the likes of which videogames keep excelling with. I’m sure someone – Rockstar perhaps – will make this even better again, and it must, must find its way, at least in some form, into GTA5, because it feels like a TPS done right.

There’s multiplayer, too. Bullet-time, in multiplayer, takes place for you and for you and for the people in your line of sight, creating bubbles of slow-motion gun battle across the maps. It’s a peculiar effect, but it works rather well. At least up to a point. There were times when it was just confusing, but I suspect that will iron out with some extended play. That said, I found it difficult to imagine playing this for extended periods – despite the wealth of multiplayer modes – including team-driven, objective-based multiplayer scenarios that offer quite a lot of meat for your shooting. Perhaps I’m just at a point in my life where I’m past deathmatch, but I did long for first-person, too. That’s almost certainly the psychological sticking point for my enjoyment of this, which isn’t necessarily a fault with the game.


As for the PC conversion, well, I have everything cranked up on my i5 2500k and a single 560 Ti, and runs smoothly and looks incredible. It should look incredible, too. There’s almost no excuse for that, now. It certainly less of a horrible hog than GTA4 was at the time, but it’s still demanding. Lesser PCs – you know the ones – will probably struggle in a serious way. The DRM is the Social Club login, which must be done each time you play the game. I’ve heard this is causing really serious issues for some people, but I can’t report any problems first-hand. The matchmaking for multiplayer games works okay, too, but I can’t imagine this is really going to sustain a community for long. There’s just too much else out there on PC. So much else with mature multiplayer offerings. This seems like a sweetener necessary to make the game sell on the consoles, rather than something we’ll be signing up for on its own merits. Maybe I’m wrong. (I’m probably not.)

So that’s Max Payne 3. An accomplished, expertly produced shooting gallery (with a few faltering steps) the likes of which we always have an appetite for. There are some extraneous bits, but the heart is strong. And that’s all there is to say.

Yes.

Except.

Well, I can’t quite articulate this residual thought.

Let’s try this: There’s a bit in Max Payne 3, about half way through the game, where there isn’t any shooting, and you just wander through a bit of the favela. You get a chance to marvel at the crumbling scenery, to notice incidental detail. I always like moments like that in games. But here it was also the moment where that vaguely hollow feeling came into focus for a second. It’s not much, but it perhaps serves to emphasize how even subtle changes within shooters now stand out, so slow has their progress been in the past few years.

Hell, we’ve not even had a Max Payne game since 2003, and consequently the return of bullet time – with its wonderful new character movement, and a few little nuances like that walking sequence and the glitchy after-effects – feels remarkably refreshing.

Perhaps anything that has been absent for long enough feels refreshing.

Hmm.

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148 Comments »

  1. Taffer says:

    “I was particularly irked by arbitrary failure conditions – failure for taking cover on some stairs and leaving a dude you were cover, failure for diving off a pier into the water”

    A dude you were covering?

    • Prokroustis says:

      MP2 did that quite right with the level where you had to protect Vinnie..

      • Hilden2000 says:

        “MP2 did that quite right with the level where you had to protect Vinnie..”

        That is one of the most aggravating and annoying escort missions in the history of video games, bad enough he’s a huge target with an insane amount of baddies firing in his direction but his voice, oh god like nails on the devil’s chalkboard.

        So no. That was not “done right”.

        • Prokroustis says:

          It’s difficulty is what makes it tense and it’s humour what makes it.. funny? It was done quite right, I insist.

          • LionsPhil says:

            I enjoyed it. The whole treatment of that squirt was pretty great.

            In fact, I remember playing as Mona covering Max without breaking any keyboards in half with frustration, too. Probably becase he was vaguely competent and Remedy nicely balanced it between him not being defenceless but your actions not being unnecessary.

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          HermitUK says:

          It’s not a stand-out level from 2, granted, but it’s pretty easy to finish that section without Vinnie taking a hit. You protect him by doing what you’ve always been doing; killing all the people. Usually Vinnie hides or takes cover when the next wave of enemies spawn, so if he’s getting shot it usually means you’ve let one slip past you.

          • Ragnar says:

            Not my Vinnie. My Vinnie took off at a sprint and ran right into the middle of the oncoming wave of bullets. I had to re-load that section over and over again before I was finally able to save him from his stupidity.

        • Valvarexart says:

          I finished MP1 and 2 a couple of days ago in preparation for MP3 (I had not played the previous games, and I must say that I missed something wonderful). I did not find that part to be hard at all. I reloaded twice, but then again I save and reload all the fucking time.
          Maybe you were younger and less experienced when you did it…

  2. Drac40k says:

    I just want to add that the 3D vision in that game is incredible – there is nothing even close to it.

    • Demiath says:

      Are you kidding? The 3D Vision support is subpar and NVIDIA’s own verdict is a non-equivocal “Not recommended”. Of course this might all be patched soon enough, but as of right now I couldn’t disagree more with your statement.

      • Drac40k says:

        Uh, that is strange – i have 0 problems with the 3d in max payne. i was not aware of the problems some people have with it – dont want to misinform anyone!

      • Incredulous Dylan says:

        Can anyone point out what actual problems this game has in 3D? I do a lot of 3D gaming and know how unreliable initial 3D vision profiles can be. Are we talking about shadows rendering at the wrong depth, issues with water, or the 3D just not working? I planned to pick this up after work and give it a go.

        Edit-

        Doing some quick research brought me to an Nvidia statement on their forums:

        “Due to driver schedules, our current driver lists the game as Not Recommended, which is an error.

        Our next driver release will correct the 3D Vision rating to 3DVision Ready.

        When playing Max Payne 3 in 3D, we recommend using SSAO and FXAA (MSAA off) for the best experience. ”

        Looks like I’ll have no problem nabbing this if it’s 3D Vision Ready. That’s about as good as it gets. Apparently they even have custom convergence settings for each cutscene. Way to go Rockstar! I’m glad 3D gaming has been been getting the treatment it deserves lately. AA and SSAO being recommended off are likely for framerate reasons. That’s what 680s are for!

        • MonetaryDread says:

          When you are actually playing the game the 3d is incredible. The problem is that the cutscenes are pre-rendered and presented to you in 2d. Since the game cuts into a cinematic pretty much every time you walk through a door this leads to an overall underwhelming 3d experience. Its a shame though because the game does everything else right with their 3d implementation. Even with my shit Samsung 2233 I receive little to no ghosting, the options give me control over depth and convergence settings, and a less than 50% performance hit.

          As for the recommendation to choose SSAO instead of HDAO, in 3D HDAO makes the shadows look aliased and fat, while MSAA makes the game run choppy on my system at anything over 2x (Edit: Also, for some reason 4x AA brings on a halos around enemies in the distance on my PC).

          System Specs:
          Windows 7 64-bit
          GTX 680
          i5-2500k (overclocked)
          8 gigs of ddr3-1600
          128gb Samsung 830

          • LionsPhil says:

            It baffles me that, after graphics capabilities getting good enough that we went through the ’00s with most cutscenes being in-engine, there’s been this push back to pre-rendered ones. Even if they’re to hide loading screens it seems bizzare that you’d want to do that with something as I/O-heavy as streaming HD video, rather than something GPU-heavy.

          • CorruptBadger says:

            The pre-rendered cutscenes irritated me so much.
            1. They completely broke up and disjointed the flow of the game, going from high octane/slow-mo shooting action, to a silly cut scene which is for the most part some dialogue you could have received in-game or a pointless action from max.
            2. Because they were pre-rendered, the game itself looked higher quality on my system when in-game, and switching to cut scenes, they looked really grimy and pixelated in comparison

  3. WoundedBum says:

    I agree pretty much on all fronts, not sure if I felt it was ‘hollow’ but I think I know what you mean.

    It really feels as if they tried and delivered as best they could. It doesn’t feel phoned in, or cheap and it’s definitely not perfect, but it’s right in so many ways, I can forgive the flaws. And when all is said an done, it’s got the most satisfying physics ever. GTA V needs a dive mechanic, just so I can experience the joy of falling into cars.

    • Jesse L says:

      Is the hollow feeling possibly related to the tenuous connection Max has to the story? Max is in the story, and he’s involved with the events, but it’s not a personal story. He has one friend, a couple of women he doesn’t know but who stand in metaphorically for other women he’s tried to protect, an employer, and not much else. The bad guys hardly know who Max is, and he literally can’t communicate with the hundreds of henchmen they employ.

      I kind of like the way the game handles this – it’s different! – but Max isn’t wrong when he complains about having wandered into a mess that isn’t his. Very different from the last two games.

      • Werthead says:

        I was okay with this. Max’s personal story in the first two games was basically getting revenge for his wife’s death, finding that didn’t help, and ultimately finding a form of redemption by the end of MP2 (“My wife was dead, and that was all right,”). Max still has personal demons in the form his pill-popping and drinking, but they’re not driving the story. The story being an external mess that Max can throw himself into works quite well from that angle, and I think it would have trivilalised his achievements in the first two games by having him constantly thinking about his wife, emoing out over past events etc every few minutes. We’ve played that story already.

      • passingstranger says:

        This was very much my biggest gripe, too. I was very happy to be slumming it up again with Max, but I couldn’t help but keep coming back to the fact that he’s being thrown around in someone else’s world as opposed to his own. It seems that was the point, to some degree, but it detracted for me.

        “Here I was again, cleaning up a mess that wasn’t even mine.”

        Like you mentioned, Max says something to that effect toward the end and it stuck with me. I wished that it had been his mess. Though being hired to protect a rich family is reason enough for Max to care, it had me on the fence. Max is broken and mostly empty and every good reason he has to keep fighting is six feet under either soil or whiskey bottles. I would have liked for him to dig out a little bit of personal investment if he’s still capable.

  4. kevmscotland says:

    By about half way through the game, i felt like I was more John McLain than Max Payne.

    Thats not to say its a bad thing, definitely had a element of being a Die Hard movie, where the same shit keeps happening to the same guy, and the only solution is to kill people and blow shit up.

    Great SP experience.
    The MP isnt so good.

    • Walsh says:

      I like how there are recurring comments from the characters roughly asking “Where did all these bad guys come from?” and “There must be an army of them!”

      The comments are a ‘wink nudge’ and made me smile.

      • Hogni Gylfason says:

        “Push the button”

        “What? Am I the button pushing man?”

        “Yeah, you’re good at it”

        Or words to that effect. Nice tongue in cheek there.

        • ScottTFrazer says:

          There was a callback to that later, too: “I really AM getting good at this.”

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        P7uen says:

        I appreciated that, but *MINOR SPOILER* when I was in the jungle flying through the air on a flaming speedboat after jumping over a collapsed building with no control over my character except “click to kill” on an almost stationary screen of bad guys after a 5 minute on-rails shooter section… erm, is this a Max Payne game I’m playing?

        Not so much jumping the collapsed building as jumping the shark, to my mind.

        • Tuco says:

          I wouldn’t really complain about those occasional railroad parts, as they helped a bit with variety and there was plenty of more traditional content.

  5. MrWeed says:

    I have to say, I played through the game in one long session because I was so excited and I liked it really, really much. This has to be my game of the year so far, it does everything right for a third person shooter and bullet time is just so nice to look at.

    The MP is actually pretty nice, but after extended sessions and me leveling up so far that I can’t play in the “Rookie” playlists anymore, I noticed a couple of things that need to be adressed urgently:

    - Better system for picking the host (it’s peer-to-peer and when it choses someone with a bad connection everything gets extremely laggy and some people become invulnerable or stuff like that)
    - They better add some more/bigger maps, as the ones included right now all feel way too small for me
    - The “Mini-30″, a semi-automatic rifle that is unlocked from the beginning, needs a MASSVIE nerf. It hase almost unlimited range, fires as fast as every semi-automatic pistol and does ridiculous damage. Right now about 80% of the people just sit behind cover using that thing and shoot everyone who even DARES to shootdodge around a corner
    - The handguns need a damage improvement, or at least I think they could do with that

    All in all, however, the MP3 MP is a nice, solid multiplayer shootout with a twist and bullet time aswell as the bursts (special abilities that you can trigger when you collect enough adrenaline) are a nice addition and work rather well. The gunplay is also very satisfying, the guns feal real and deadly and there just isn’t anything more awesome than shootdodging down some stairs, shooting your enemy in the head and then crashing into a wall, all while looking incredibly well animated and awesome.

    And in the end, you might want to check out this thread for Max Payne 3 multiplayer crews, as there have already been founded at least two unofficial RPS crews:
    http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/forums/showthread.php?5099-Rockstar-Games-Social-Club-Crew

    • Soapeh says:

      The things I most dislike about the multiplayer side are the enemy blips showing up on the radar and the giant red names above the enemy players once they are in sight. I am hoping Hardcore disables these terrible ‘features’ that just seem to pander to the lazy gamer that just wants to be told where to run to and what to shoot at.

      The different modes are great fun though, especially Payne Killer. The p2p structure and complete lack of any information regarding ping etc is a huge letdown and not something that will ever be fixed, sadly.

      • battles_atlas says:

        After a few hours with the MP I abandoned it as fundamentally flawed. Either I’ve come up against many hackers already, or many of the unlocks are horribly unbalanced. Probably both.

        There seems to be no anti-cheat software like Punkbuster, which should itself serve as a deafing warning siren. And once you get out of the rookie games it seems clear that the lv20 players have hugely improved weapons and armour. Just simple absurdities like the fact that newbs with iron-sights rifles are expected to go head to head with more experienced players with scoped sniper rifles. If this happened with Battlefield 3 the internet would meltdown.

        • Qwentle says:

          I started on the Multiplayer first, guessing it’ll die pretty quick so get in there while things are still full, so I’m one of those level 20 somethings running around just annihilating everyone with twin 1911s (once you can reliably headshot while moving btw, any pistol trumps everything else). Annoyingly you can’t choose where you go and there doesn’t appear to be any form of matchmaking, so I just get thrown in with the new players, which isn’t a great experience for any of us.

          As an aside, I’ve been accused of hacking more times than I can count, it seems to be the go-to response for players when they die fast, but I’ve only actually seen one hacker, so far. Due to the P2P nature of things, they are quite blatant, running around invincible with infinite ammo grenade launchers.

  6. Jnx says:

    Actually the multiplayer is a mess. The inbalance between equipment is _massive_, that’s endurable for a casual game that TPS’ are by nature, but the connection issues really break the experience. P2P hosting brings annoying latency with it and getting to a game can take 30-60 minutes because constant connection errors.

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    Erithtotl says:

    The article you referenced is valid, I also think so many of your concerns are part of a bigger problem in gaming, the disconnect between narrative and story, a disconnect that is especially pronounced in Rockstar titles. In LA Noire you spend hours meticulously investigating a series of crimes, and then on your way back to the station you stop to shoot 10 bankrobbers without anyone really mentioning it. In RDR, you kill like 40 feds in the final battle without blinking, but you also spend large parts of the game picking flowers. In GTA 4 you have a tortured and conflicted antihero who also doesn’t blink twice about running down dozens of civilians. Ironically of all the open world titles, Saints Row 3 is the closest to having a unified narrative/gameplay since everything is just completely psychotic and over-the-top.

    I think Rockstar is best positioned to unify narrative and gameplay with their open world titles, but will they, especially if it poses the danger of them perhaps losing sales? I don’t know.

    • Angel Dust says:

      I think the Kane & Lynch games are pretty good at unifying narrative and gameplay. I mean, you still kill lots of people but your characters are deluded, desperate socio/psychpaths, so it works.

    • Kadayi says:

      Not played MP3 yet (it’s on the Christmas list), but I concur with your assessment on rockstars games so far. They do make great games, but they definitely do need to reconcile certain aspects of their game play more with the narrative. Personally hoping that GTA V delivers on that score.

  8. bigblack says:

    Nicely done Jim; I agreed with this WIT after playing the game all weekend. The animation and pure shooty bits are amazingly satisfying, building nicely off of RED DEAD REDEMPTION which, prior to MP3, had the best TPS shooty-bits I’d ever encountered. The animation is just stunning, really fluid and believable, with Max feeling weighty yet absolutely precise; the violence is f&<ki)(g astounding and bullet impact reactions are uncanny. It's a lot of fun when you are in control, leading me too…

    ..the frequency of cut-scenes is ridiculous! Good thing that the shooting in-between them is so damn good, and that the scenes themselves are passably entertaining the first time through, because this game seems to have as much cut-scene as it has player-control. I was continually amazed at my own level of tolerance for the sheer pile of movie-minutes amassing. It's a narrow hit, and a bit of a tough thing to describe – if you are a MAX PAYNE fan, there's some great game here and the complaints shouldn't turn you off, as there's a lot of obviously love and work gone into this thing – but in any other game the amount of non-game time would probably make me scream.

  9. Derk_Henderson says:

    Thoughts I wrote up after beating it, when everything was still fresh in my mind:

    - This is the single most linear game I’ve ever played. It is basically one long sequence of cutscenes punctuated by gunfights. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing – it’s also the most cinematic game I’ve ever played, and it does that extremely well. It’s engaging, compelling and has really fantastic production values. But if you want an open game, this is not for you.

    - Max is still Max. Depressed, drunk, bitter, angry, melodramatic… you know, Max. Welcome back, buddy.

    - Max should really operate on the assumption that everyone he meets will fuck him over. I get that he’s too drunk half the time to pay much attention, but really, does he not remember “Max, dearest of all my friends”?

    - Likewise, bad guys looking for a fall guy should pick Not Max Payne. Yes, he’s a bitter angry drunk ex-cop with an anger problem, which makes him (on paper) perfect for the job. That anger problem has also lead him to kill roughly twelve hundred guys. Just from an economic perspective, it is probably easier to find a different bitter drunk ex-cop than it is to find another private army after Max gets through with the first one. Assuming you’re still alive, which you won’t be.

    - The juxtaposition between Max’s constant complaints about being a total failure and Max’s ability to single-handedly murder room after room of commandos is pretty hilarious at times. I get that this is Max’s schtick, but really, you blame yourself for your clients dying because it took you six minutes instead of five to personally destroy an army? Setting the standards a little high there, man.

    - The cutscenes are really good at giving you control right when the action is picking up in a particularly awesome moment. Most games, if someone fires a rocket launcher at you in a cutscene, you watch your character dive out of the way and THEN it gives you control. Max Payne 3 says “here, you’re in bullet time and there’s a rocket coming towards your face, you should probably shoot that out of the air”. Fantastic.

    - The aforementioned badassery makes it rather difficult on those occasions when Max does something dumb that lets people take his guns and/or do bad things to his clients. It would make far more sense if you weren’t playing this particular game – in the abstract, yes, Max doesn’t have much choice when confronted with multiple guys pointing guns at hostages. But this is MAX PAYNE. The correct way to deal with that situation is not “enter the room and tell them to drop their guns only to be surrounded”, it’s “jump through the window and shoot five guys in the head before you hit the ground”. Because you can totally do that the rest of the time.

    - One final complaint: when I am walking around using a rifle, could you not return me to my pistol at the beginning of every gunfight? The game does a really good job animating which guns you’re carrying around, and I feel like they should be able to keep your currently equipped weapon through cutscene transitions.

    - This is a darker game than the first two. This may sound ridiculous given, well, the first two – but there’s simply less humor this time around. It still feels like Max Payne, for sure, but you only see a couple episodes of Captain Baseball-Bat Boy and the multiple strains of twisted humor running through the second game are largely absent. Where’s my Lords and Ladies? I’m sure they could have put in some ridiculous telenovela.

    - Aside from laments about his wife and references to his status as a pariah in New York, there are surprisingly few references to the other games. Mona gets mentioned maybe once. Though you can get Max to play the Max Payne theme on piano at one point (which he calls the “theme of my life”), which is awesome.

    - In keeping with the lack of Mona, no new femme fatales for Max. Maybe next time.

    - I really like the ‘kill the last guy who shot you and you take a painkiller and keep going’ feature. It makes the gunfights far smoother because you don’t have to keep monitoring your health – if you die, just shoot the guy who got you and keep going.

    - Cover is there, but half the time it does you more harm than good. The best thing to do is still bullet time, bullet time and more bullet time. So fears that this would turn into yet another chest high wall simulator were vastly overblown.

    - Bullet cam is extra gory this time. I shot a lot of dudes right in the eye, and it really does look like they have a hole in their head.

    - Laser sights are terrible. They jerk up every time you fire, confusing the hell out of your aim. Stick with the little dot. I love you, little dot.

    - Max, please find a shoulder strap so that you can keep carrying your rifle while dual-wielding pistols. Thanks.

    - The golden guns feel a little silly but overall I liked them, especially when Max was running around wearing a Hawaiian shirt with a golden shotgun. That was pretty great.

    - Always shoot everyone in the head. This is usually the case, but MAN does it hold for this game.

    - Basically, the gunfights are great. This is a game about having cool gunfights in slow motion, and the gunfights are a) mostly in slow motion and b) really cool. So it succeeds at its key feature.

    - Overall: I liked it a lot (I beat it in about 8 1/2 hours, all played in one day). I think Max Payne 2 is still my favorite, but this belongs with the series. Rockstar is good at their craft.

    • kevmscotland says:

      Agree with pretty much everything you wrote.

      Worth pointing out theres a option in there somewhere that lets you turn off the ‘Golden Guns’ effect, returning them to standard.

    • Paul says:

      Where is my like button? Fantastic comment under fantastic review article.

    • Lokik says:

      “- Max should really operate on the assumption that everyone he meets will fuck him over. I get that he’s too drunk half the time to pay much attention, but really, does he not remember “Max, dearest of all my friends”?”

      I haven’t finished the game yet and I really hope that is not a massive spoiler.

      Great game btw, my favorite Max Payne so far. Shooting is better than ever, and I like São Paulo as a setting. My Brazilian gf was impressed with it’s attention to detail (although she is not from Sampa) and how well done the Portuguese dialogue and voice acting was. I also love the game’s subtle sense of humor, made me laugh a few times even if the game is mostly very dark and serious.

      • chris1479 says:

        Lokik says:

        “Great game btw, my favorite Max Payne so far. Shooting is better than ever, and I like São Paulo as a setting. My Brazilian gf was impressed with it’s attention to detail (although she is not from Sampa) and how well done the Portuguese dialogue and voice acting was.”

        Brazilian gf? Cool story bro

        • Lokik says:

          Yes, an English teacher from Manaus. Oh yeah, I forgot the rule that gamers can’t have wives or girlfriends because only socially awkward ugly nerds play games.

        • aceshigh says:

          I also have a brazilian girlfriend. They are quite common… with us brazilians.

    • Metronome49 says:

      “Laser sights are terrible. They jerk up every time you fire, confusing the hell out of your aim. Stick with the little dot. I love you, little dot.”

      Oh yeah. The laser sights were unusable. I have no idea what they were thinking.

    • Daniel Klein says:

      Agree so much with everything you said. I played through the game (completion time 9 hours 30 minutes because I take my sweet time), played some arcade and some multiplayer. Let me add this:

      - It’s been said in the review, but it’s worth repeating: whoever worked on animations in this game deserves an award. There’s a quiet moment in the favela where Max watches three kids play football. I just gawked at it. It looked so very very good.

      - YES to the Max being non-Max in cutscenes sometimes. There’s one where you actually can see something through the windows and I REALLY just wanted to leap into the room, but Max walks in. Then again, this is averted toward the very end, where a cut-scene starts out with Max being stupid (i.e. walking in on baddies instead of floating angelically through the air putting holes in their skulls) and where Max just takes it up to a whole new level of badassery. Ain’t got nowhere else to go indeed.

      - Did anyone else wish completing the game unlocked Max Payne 1 and 2 in the new engine? I would pay CRAZY CASH MONEY for that.

      - This is the first single player game since Portal 2 where I *wanted* the plot. I didn’t skip anything, listened to everything they said, turned off my own music to better focus on the game. Basically, YES. An entirely immersive experience. I’m sad I finished it in two days. I want more! Is Rockstar always this good? Would I enjoy LA Noir or Red Dead Redemption this much?

      - The delivery of some lines is SO perfect it made me want to pause the game and show it to someone else. “Any sign of the money, Max?” “Nope. Just some people shooting at me.”

      • Snakejuice says:

        Red Dead Redemtion is the only reason I still keep my xbox 360 around. I have L.A. Noir on PC but it’s not really my cup of tea. That said both games are really really well made and unique and you wont find anything else quite like them.

    • Premium User Badge

      P7uen says:

      If they’d have called it “MAN ON FIRE: THE GAME” I’d have been more satisfied.

      Yeah, I disagree on the “cinematic” stuff. It was very cinematic, but why? We’ve come along way, the GTA film references were great surely that’s not all Rockstar can do, they’re talented people.

      I really enjoyed the combat, but I probably would’ve enjoyed the game more without wresting control off me for the cool bits, to make it “cinematic” (and for going through every doorway in the entire game).

      If I wanted Max Payne to be “cinematic” I’d watch a movie about it not play a game about it.

      And we all know how that turned out…

  10. karthink says:

    ” The DRM is the Social Club login, which must be done each time you play the game.”

    So, always online? If yes, is the matter reduced to just a footnote now?

    Also, I haven’t played a shooter in over an year because I was bored silly of them; I do feel like playing Max Payne now, though. So I concur, anything that absent for long enough is refreshing.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      It’s in the main review, therefore not a footnote.

      • _PixelNinja says:

        The DRM is also GameShield. For those who like to know what DRM they are getting into, I feel it’s important to mention.

        There is an ‘issue’ with Rockstar refusing to comment on the number of allowed activations and if they are revocable.

        Source.

        EDIT: Geez why do my posts always appear at the wrong place? Sorry about that, I have to get used to the reviewed commenting system.

        • Catsplosion says:

          I’m less annoyed by the DRM than the lack of online anti cheat system.

          The online was fairly fun for the first few days but now I get somebody with god-mode or the ability to teleport around the map in nearly every game.

    • Toberoth says:

      Fuck, Jim beat me to it.

    • Spider Jerusalem says:

      you can play offline.

      there’s an offline mode button in the launcher/updater thing.

      • karthink says:

        Oh, okay. Can live with that.

        • Dreamworkers says:

          Also, I think it is log-in each time you play, it doesn’t drop you out when you loose your connection or actually runs the game via a server in single player.

          • Toberoth says:

            UNLIKE ANOTHER GAME I CAN THINK OF

          • Timthos says:

            My own experience shows that if you manually log out, it kicks you from the game, but if your internet disconnects, you will be able to continue playing.

    • Alexander Norris says:

      There’s an offline mode, the Rockstar Social Club gunk basically copies GfWL’s functions down to the last one.

      • sneetch says:

        Yeah, I actually checked the box to see if it was GFWL, odd decision really, although this did seem to work very well and unlike GFWL the patcher runs before the game even tries to start so that will, hopefully, work a lot better than GFWL.

  11. Fox89 says:

    I beat this in two sittings, and I pretty much agree with everything in the article. I wouldn’t rate it as highly as either of the first two Max Payne games, but it’s probably my favourite TPS since them as well. My housemate was playing it upstairs at the same time as me, and when he came down to ask me what I thought of the game I said “This is the best Die Hard game I’ve ever played.”

    And that pretty much sums it all up. It wasn’t quite the same feeling that the other Payne games gave me, I felt a bit more restricted, a bit more outnumbered, a bit less comfortable with my ammo count and a bit more inclined to tuck my head in cover every now and then. But it was still a great experience overall, and other than one or two difficulty spikes aside, consistent fun.

  12. woodsey says:

    My biggest problem would have to be the cutscenes that seem to be attached to every door handle in the game. In some instances I walked through a door, triggered a cutscene, walked through an empty room and then triggered another cutscene going through the next door.

    Other then that though, I thought it was great. I’ve never been a particular fan of Rockstar’s writing, although RDR was very good in places – this felt like a real step up. No, it’s not the same tone or genre as the first two, but it’s very much the same character as interpreted by a different writer.

    It reminded me of Uncharted 2, actually – a real perfection (for the most part) of the cutscene/gameplay/cutscene way of doing things. It does almost nothing to push gaming’s inherent strengths, but it does what it does exceptionally well, and is highly enjoyable.

    • Premium User Badge

      P7uen says:

      God yes. It’s the same engine as GTA isn’t it? So if it’s not hiding loading screens I assume they just set out to make the most CINEMATIC DOORWAYS in interactive media.

      Check point for the back of the box!

  13. ResonanceCascade says:

    It’s alright. I probably wouldn’t recommend it at full price, despite the impressive tech stuff.

    I’d like the game a lot more if it weren’t so laughably grim. I replayed the first one just to make sure I wasn’t imagining the joyous tongue-in-cheekery of it all, but sure enough, it’s there, and is greatly missed in Max Payne 3.

    Other than that and the nausea-inducing cutcenes, I enjoyed it.

    • woodsey says:

      I think it has a sense of humour, only it’s derived much more from Max’s narration than a general sense of the entire game being tongue-in-cheek.

      • ResonanceCascade says:

        To be fair, I did get a big laugh from sniping a guy in the ass during the stadium mission (the ensuing slow-mo death was hilarious) but that wasn’t exactly intended by the devs.

      • Premium User Badge

        P7uen says:

        It’s a bit different in tone but I loved the dialogue between Max and his partner blokey. Did lol a bit.

  14. Totally heterosexual says:

    Oh you Max. You poor, self hating, gunslinger sonofabitch. Come here you.

    Really liked this game. Very happy with it.

    Im not fan of max’s new dialogue. Seems a lot more dry then before. I also kinda found the story unremarkable, though just Max as a character make up for a lot of it.

    The thematic change was a bit jarring at first but i learned to like it. It’s sunny and brutal instead of snowy night and campy. It’s now man of fire instead of Noir John woo movies. It’s now social commentary insted of apocalypse metaphors. And it’s great.

  15. Premium User Badge

    nasKo says:

    Am I missing something or is there no word about the annoying ammount of cutscenes? Seriously, there are just too many cutscenes. It’s basically Cutscenes: The Game.
    I am having fun with it, but the cutscenes are constantly interrupting me.
    Cutscenes. Also, cutscenes.

    • Steven Hutton says:

      Jesus, yes. They are CONSTANT and way, WAY too long. I really wish whoever it is at rockstar that would rather be making movies would leave and go make movies.

      There is a lot of incredibly tightly constructed shooting. But the game is literally depositing me at the start of a shooting gallery in the exact position it wants me so yeah, if you’re going to take control away so you can set up everything perfectly for the next gun-fight I’d expect it to be a damn good fight.

      Max can’t even push a button to open a gate without a cut-scene. It’s agonising.

      • Premium User Badge

        P7uen says:

        I really wish whoever it is at rockstar that would rather be making movies would leave and go make movies.

        I’ve just had my monitor engraved with this.

        Previous bloke said “The tone is different because they chose Man on Fire instead of John Woo movies”.

        Why choose any movie?

  16. Narzhul says:

    Yes, yes the gameplay is acceptable and in some ways can be praised, but has its flaws etc.

    What I wanna know is, if I skipped out on “Max Payne 3,” and consider it as ending at 2, would I be missing out on anything? Did Rockstar do the story justice? Or is it negligible or simply okayish?

    • woodsey says:

      Max has some good character development, and it’s very much a new story – attention is paid to his wife and kid but it’s certainly not the focus. Its very much the “what now?” after MP2′s ending, now that he’s accepted the death of his wife and everything that’s happened.

    • Spider Jerusalem says:

      there’s not much connectivity between this game and the previous ones. well, not as much as i would’ve wanted anyway.

    • RegisteredUser says:

      In my opinion the Max from MP1+2 is slightly different from the one from 3, mostly for MP3s sake so that they have something to be down and gritty about.
      In this vein, I would argue that you can view MP1+2 as a closed book and series, and MP3 is..slightly different. Not a must WITHIN the 1+2 complex, but still kindasorta Max.
      I wouldn’t see it as missing out from the old-old Max, no.
      But if any Max, just more Max will do and you get off on Gravelly Mc Gravelvoice, it definitely is a bin-buy.

  17. Dreamworkers says:

    I pre-ordered it and want to try it but it keeps crashing on me after the auto-patcher does it’s thing. There’s some solutions on Rockstar’s faq but none have worked. Any of you an idea?

  18. Iskariot says:

    Wait, wait, they use ‘Always online DRM’?????????
    Really?

    Then count me out.
    Combine the DRM with the only 10 hours lasting campaign and this is definitely a bargain bin game for me. 10 hours is not enough to make me pay 50 or 60 bucks for any game.

    • woodsey says:

      It’s not ‘always-online’. Whether you have to log in to Social Club every time you start the game up for verification, I’m not sure (although I don’t think so).

      Someone else has mentioned it somewhere in the comments.

      • Premium User Badge

        kregg says:

        Not only that, but you can start the game in offline mode.

        • Iskariot says:

          @ kregg.
          So to get this right…. One can start the game in OFF-line mode!
          That is excellent.

    • alundra says:

      As PixelNinja mentioned in the first page of comments, there is Ironguard DRM, to prevent modding, and also to limit the number of machines it can be installed on, Rockstar is blatantly refusing to reveal how many installs will it allow you to have.

      That said, the very same thing was also present on LA Noire and it flew under the radar, one possible reason is because it’s a sufficient number.

      Nevertheless, Stream + Rockstar Social + Ironguard.

      Really overkill.

      • sneetch says:

        “Stream”?

        What’s that? Do you mean Steam because it doesn’t require Steam.

        • alundra says:

          Yup, it’s steam, do you mean that the retail version does not have steam?

  19. KingJason13 says:

    I thought they’d hired another voice actor… rather than James McCaffery reprising his role.

  20. wodin says:

    Never played the first 2. I loved the fact he was a middle age tortured ex cop. Added alot to I for me. Animations are superb and what all games should be like these days. Story was cool. I agree I wish it had something to alleviate the shoot, shoot, big shoot feel.

    However this is a game that shows why I prefer a focused well thought out linear experience than a rinse and repeat watered down open world game. Granted it got abit repetitious towards the last few acts but it felt like a decent cop film and the voice acting was excellent. I think if it had some sort of proper evidence aspect where you had to go around piecing things together aswell as the shooty bits it would have made for a more fulfilling experience. Still highly recommended.

    Again the animations and attention to detail a and voice actineg are superb.

    I did find it tough even on medium, with many checkpoint restarts. You can’t change the difficulty either if your stuck. What would have been good is if there was more than one way to get past certain parts for instance sneaking or stealth killing.

    • woodsey says:

      You can change it in the gameplay menu at any time – I know I did after having my arse handed to me on Medium.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Collecting evidence had gotten old a few hundred bullets back. I was already so far beyond the point of no return I couldn’t remember what it had looked like when I had passed it.

      The first two are spectacular games and you should totally play them. Kung Fu mod for 1 is a great addition for anyone getting the replay itch, too.

  21. Zyrxil says:

    I feel an important thing to note is that MP3 has always-on Mouse Acceleration. Yeah. That just completely ruins everything for me.

    • sneetch says:

      I haven’t noticed that, have you turned it off in windows control panel?

  22. ImOnTheRadio says:

    “There’s not even quite enough ammo.” Really? Do you like hold down your mouse button all the time? :D I have ran out of ammo only once, and even then I could just roll over a gun that was 5 meters away and get more ammo. I don’t consider this an issue.

    • HothMonster says:

      On hard I often find myself forced to use the two-handed weapon the level enemies are using even if I prefer dual wielding. I ran low on ammo sometimes either from refusing to use the gun that was most common on the level or just being lazy and not running over most of the corpses in a room before moving on. Occasionally I would find myself in an extended fire fight without enough ammo on hand and have to pull of some crazy stunt to get a fresh gun. This leads me to two great features in this game, if you die too many times without advancing checkpoints the game will give you more ammo, health, painkillers ect. Also when you are running and pick up a gun Max will roll and grab it without stopping, very helpful for grabbing a rifle from the middle of room in the middle of a gunfight.

      • ImOnTheRadio says:

        I haven’t had this issue myself no matter what guns I use, but maybe it’s just because I want to take my time with my headshots and use bullet time a lot.
        I could even handle with the only strong shotgun there is that looks a bit like a rifle even though it’s pretty rare. If I ran out of bullets, then I’d just change to a one-handed like the deagle.
        Maybe it’s just because I play on medium and you get ammo on that difficulty or something.
        I also loved the two great features you mentioned. Max Payne 3 has lots of stuff other games should learn about.

    • RegisteredUser says:

      The issue more is that unless you play with the core set of maybe 5 guns, there isn’t enough ammo to really try out and enjoy the other ones lying around. Especially since some only show up very late in the game.
      And to be brutally honest, I didn’t feel like the 9mm was much different from the colt was much different from the Desert Eagle, and they have vastly different impact/strength implications normally. Or the revolver.
      At the very least I would have thought ONE of the handguns should have sounded like a minicannon elephant gun, but no. Nothing. Handguns all felt samey to heck to me, just like the machine guns, be it 9mm based or rifle based. Only the shotguns had a bit different spread. But none really felt like they had a unique character, to be honest.
      Not that this ever was one of MPs fortes.

  23. LionsPhil says:

    Of course it lacks the trademark open-worldiness of their original games.

    I wouldn’t really say that that was trademark; at most there are some segments where Max is exploring an area without anyone shooting at him—quite a few streets to wander—but they were a pretty linear pair of games by and large, and absolutely followed a level-by-level structure. (And that worked great.)

    • Reefpirate says:

      I’m pretty sure he was referencing Rockstar’s original games (GTA) and not the original Max Payne games.

    • Premium User Badge

      ffordesoon says:

      I think he means Rockstar’s games.

      EDIT: Damn! Beaten to the punch.

  24. Jesse L says:

    Hard mode is Hard. I started out on Hard mode, in free aim, and (beat this) on the console no less (my computer can’t handle these graphics), and I’m really wondering (one chapter from the end) how different Normal difficulty must be. You don’t have much slow-mo power in Hard mode. I’m in cover all the time, with a very few exhilarating desperate slow-motion exceptions. I’d go so far as to say that Hard mode is too hard. I still enjoyed it because I like a more realistic shooting experience, but I have zero time to savor how bad-ass I am. Gots to be killin’. And when I’m not killin’, gots to be searching every corner of every room for more pills. Looking forward to a more relaxed replay.

    The game begs for an unlimited slow-mo cheat. And it has one, but only if you get a gold rating in every level on arcade mode. Arg!

    • Chuck84 says:

      On a PC, Hard mode is just right, to me.

      *Mild PC Elitism incoming* For quick, smooth headshots(especially in such a headshot-focused game), a controller can’t compare to a mouse, and a tv on the other side of the room can’t compare to a monitor 2 foot from your face.
      I played a fair amount of the game on the xbox before my pc copy came, and I found medium on console(even with EZ mode soft-lock) about as hard as Hard on PC. If you’re finding it too hard, there’s no shame in dropping the difficulty.

    • Soapeh says:

      Hard mode is made doubly hard by the aimbot enemies who magically know exactly where you are at all times, made obvious when moving behind solid cover. Also, the transitioning between a roll or dive into cover is awful – Max decides that he has to stand up briefly before settling back into a crouch.

  25. ttcfcl says:

    I played on hard, and felt like the emphasis was on blind fire and popping out of cover. This because shootdodging out into the open was a big nono since it felt like it took so long to get back on your feet to be able to find cover. And there weren’t many time I felt I could shootdodge from cover to cover. Also 3 was very “gogogogogo” and there were several times where I failed because I dilydallied too much when all I wanted was to look at the amazing detail rockstar put into the enviros. I liked that about 1 and 2. You had these big intricate areas you could just stop and be at awe in. Also no nightmare sequence, or even a reference to the valkyr drug. I felt like the Crazy Nam Vet Neighbor and North Dakota Tourist were too little and too forced in their attempts to capture the “quirky” characters of the previous games.

  26. Paul says:

    Can you imagine that originally they wanted to go with different voice actor ? I mean, really.
    Thank spaghetti monster they reconsidered. McCaffrey was born for this role.

  27. takfar says:

    Being a Brazilian, and born in São Paulo to boot, I’d say this game felt absolutely amazing to play. Production values are through the roof, and with the exception of a couple horribly phoned-in performances (I’m looking at you, mr. becker), and some implausible in-battle dialogue, this was pitch perfect.

    Story-wise, sure, it does look like they watched a few movies (Namely Tropa de Elite 1&2, Cidade de Deus and Carandiru) and wanted to cram in as many of the standout moments from the movies into the game, so a lot of it was a retread for someone who’s familiar with them, but I’m sure it felt fresh for those who are new to this reality. Also, it was intriguing to play a “gringo” going into the favelas and feeling like a complete fish out of water, being hostilized by the local population and whatnot.

    Also, I found it a bit uncomfortable, at first, to play in São Paulo and not see the locations average, middle-class citizens normally do, but rather stick to abandoned warehouses, hardcore favelas and crumbling buildings, and then super-rich apartment buildings and office spaces. It felt like Rockstar went for the rock bottom and the very top of the city’s reality, mostly aiming for extra shock (the more common, average everyday locations would be the stadium, bus terminal and the airport, I think). But then I thought things over and figured, hell, this is Max Payne. Even when he was in New York he was shooting out abandoned warehouses and other shitty joints, instead of wall street, so it would make little sense for him to walk around Avenida Paulista, Praça da República or Parque Ibirapuera.

    Some little details also stood out very nicely, such as the very unexpected references to Brazilian mythical creatures (the Curupira, Saci, Mula sem Cabeça and Pomba Gira). The portrayal of the American sex tourist and how Max despises him was a very real, and respectful, way of tackling a real problematic issue. Political corruption, well-armed paramilitary forces, everything felt like an exaggerated version of reality, which really fits the game. The [SPOILER] organ traffic scheme [/SPOILER] seemed a bit over the top, but, well, this is Rockstar, so over the top is to be expected.

    So, overall. Awesome game. Burned through it in about 8 hours (normal difficulty setting), and will replay again asap. Might even replay it with friends watching, since it actually makes for a cool action movie (or movie trilogy, since its three parts are nicely split for a three-sitting watch)

  28. Simas says:

    Superb Rockstar production values. If you ever wondered why the game requires ~30 Gb download, just take a look at any of the levels in MP3. The very tiny details are just mind blowing. It really puts any other game to shame.

    I wish they did other kind of genres as well. Imagine a true stealth based Hitman game using that engine. Or an RPG with a Mass Effect level and scale. Still, looking forward to GTA V as MP3 is a good preview of how GTA V will look and feel like.

    • RegisteredUser says:

      3.5 GB Audio, 8 gb pre-rendered movies, and a huge chunk of the rest is prerendered paths and animation data, as the game is 90% scripted events.

      It also contains over half a dozen of languages at once.

      The actual “zomg such detail” stuff would probably comfortably fit in under 12 gb of actual visual assets.

  29. Wut The Melon says:

    Not having played the game but having seen quite a lot of it, I did notice that
    A) the game is very well made, as already pointed out by both the review and you lot,
    B) it’s as linear as it gets, also already pointed out, and
    C) gameplay is shooting people again, and again, and again, and again, (and again), as also pointed out by some of you. Now I know the latter is quite normal for a shooter, but I think it’s that one that’s going to keep me from buying this game (not having any MP experience). It seems so repetitive. I guess you could say most games are, but I think, considering the linearity as well, I may well have preferred this kind of game in the form of an action movie, not a a game.

    • LionsPhil says:

      From what I remember, apart from just being plain straight-up shorter and this follow-on benefits like a more rapid progression of new bangshoot toys to play with, the originals were helped in fending off repetition by varied locations that meant the kind of cover and approaches you could make changed (that multistory carpark—*shudder*), and to a little extent by changing goons: toward the end they’d be trying that bit harder to grenade and flank you. Also the odd sniper section, nightmare level, or Half-Life-style puzzle-boss-battle to break things up a bit.

      Be interesting what anyone who has played the first two in recent memory thinks of 3 in this regard.

      • zerosociety says:

        The AI actually is smarter in MP3 than in 1 or 2, but you don’t see a lot of that until you’re in wider spaces. They’ll try and flank you, flush you out, lay down suppressing fire and shoot out your cover.

      • Werthead says:

        MP3 is a let-down after replaying MP1 and MP2. In terms of how bullet time works, MP3 is actually a big step backwards from MP2. There’s no different levels of bullet time and shootdodging now uses up your time meter. The meter also now only refills over time alone (you don’t get boosts for killing enemies) and the game is so in love with its animations that they interfere with gameplay: popping pills and activating shootdodges results in a brief delay whilst some fancy animation plays, sometimes with fatal results. Deactivating bullet time when you crash into things is also daft, as it makes shootdodging useless in any closely-confined areas.

        No quicksaving is also unforgivable, especially as the game is rather stingy with handing them out, and most of the mid-mission cut-scenes are unskippable, which can result in major frustration.

        On the plus side, the story is serviceable, the production values are astonishing and the graphics impressive. During those missions when the game actually lets you have control of it for a decent amount of time, it’s very impressive.

        However, even compared to MP1 and MP2 (which are themselves fairly cut-scene intensive), MP3 is almost wrecked by the number of intrusive cut scenes, most of which are totally unnecessary. I’m very surprised that a lot of reviews – including RPS’s – haven’t even mentioned them. There are some levels where the amount of interactivity in the game feels only mildly more advanced than Operation Wolf’s.

        • RegisteredUser says:

          Try pressing enter on cutscenes to skip. If the level has already loaded, they should skip.

          Also Operation Wolf? Really?
          I would have thought the logical comparison would have been COD, not a sidescrolling crosshair shooter from the good old days. :P

          • Werthead says:

            That may have been a tad on the hyperbolic side :-) I can’t compare it to CoD because the last one I played was CoD4 years ago, which I hated, and I haven’t seen how the last two have developed.

          • Werthead says:

            You can skip the chapter opening/closing cut scenes, but you can’t seem to skip any cut scenes mid-mission (the annoying going-through-doors ones in particular). Whacking the enter key has no effect.

        • Premium User Badge

          nasKo says:

          I fail to see why the absolutely annoying ammount of cutscenes didn’t find it’s way into most reviews.
          If I play the game for an hour it will be 40 minutes cutscenes and 20 minutes gameplay.

          It’s extremely annoying me. The previous games were also cutscene heavy but they didn’t have so much non-sense cutscenes.
          Fuck, I can’t push an elevator button without triggering a cutscene. Forced myself to keep playing and now I am at Chapter 8. I am not having fun with this and will probably not even finish the cutscene game.

  30. Premium User Badge

    ffordesoon says:

    Haven’t finished the game yet, but I totally agree with this review. Everything’s in place and works excellently, but…

  31. pierow says:

    I really enjoyed the first two games, but I have to disagree with this article. I’ll break the game up into story/cinematics and gameplay, because there was just as much of each. I don’t know how the game containing just as much cutscenes as gameplay wasn’t mentioned.

    Cinematics/Story:
    I was amazed if I walked through a door and didn’t lose control of my character for some unnecessary cinematic. This game tries way too hard to be a movie and forgets it’s a videogame. This wouldn’t be so bad if the writing wasn’t so bad. The characters are vapid and I couldn’t give a shit about any of them. Max lost a lot of his tight lipped, but well spoken style and instead turned into some whiny sob with empty lines. The writing it typical GTA writing where the main character has no soul and is just ordered around like a mindless idiot. The dark, brooding feeling of the other games is largely gone and just replaced with rich/poor environments. The enemies and environment also lost their hilarious charm that brought a wonderful contrast to the darkness of the first two. They really tried too hard on the wrong things with this.

    Gameplay:
    How could you possibly say the movement is good? The movement is extremely muddy just to make room for fancy animation transitions, which I don’t care about at all because I’m looking at the enemies and my crosshair. This makes anyone that’s familiar first two, or any old school shooter for that matter, extremely frustrated as movement is a huge part of aim and bullet dodging. Speaking of bullet dodging, the bullets are no longer projectile delayed when not in bullet time like the first two, so you can’t cleverly strafe away from enemies shots while shooting at a room full of guys. This forces you to duck behind cover and all of the sudden you’re playing every other shitty third person cover shooter. The cinematics, which happen every waking minute, also end leaving you behind cover and map design often forces you to stay there and play some shitty version of gears of war. The bullet time, the landmark of max payne games, is extremely lacking. It drains so quickly that it is very rarely a viable strategy. You can only hold 3 weapons, which actually could have been a good thing, if they were actually any different. There’s no real difference in many of the weapons and many of them share the same ammo cache, so taking your time to examine which guns you should carry on with is fruitless. Headshots are the only shots that matter, and pistols are more accurate and fire just as fast, if not faster than rifles.

    I could go into a lot more issues, but these stand out throughout the game are are worth noting the most. This game just reeks of dropped gameplay standards to become like every other console third person cover shooter/shitty movie that gets pumped out regularly.

    • Lokik says:

      I actually thought the writing of MP 3 is superior to the first two games and Max was funnier than ever with his comments. He certainly didn’t feel soulless to me in this game, and neither did Pessos.

      Also the setting was more interesting to me. It was nice they included that one part in Hoboken for old times sake but a full game in that same dark, snowy setting (which was always a bit bland to me) as the first games wouldn’t have been so appealing to me as Brazil, which is a place not often seen in this detail in video games.

      Also, even if I’m Finnish, I really don’t miss Remedy’s references to the Nordic stuff (Valkyr, Ragnarok, also that band in Alan Wake etc…), which always felt a bit forced and out of place to me.

    • Premium User Badge

      P7uen says:

      the bullets are no longer projectile delayed when not in bullet time like the first two, so you can’t cleverly strafe away from enemies shots while shooting at a room full of guys.

      Can anyone confirm this? Because it might go a ways to explaining the different “mousefeel” I’ve been getting”

      (yes I just adapted the term “mouthfeel” for games)

      • pierow says:

        There’s a lot different with the mousing than the first two. This game has built in mouse accel due to it being primarily developed for consoles. You have to go in to controller settings and turn down acceleration to 1 to get it feeling ok, but it’s still not completely smooth. The muddy movement I described also transfers largely to muddy aiming when you change directions or start moving.

      • iucounu says:

        “Mousefeel” is a brilliant coinage and we should all start using it.

    • RegisteredUser says:

      I would argue that it is still fairly valid to move around and shoot at people as-is, and you actually use a LOT less bullet-time if you manually trigger it as opposed to shootdodge.
      Which is bad, and sad. Because shootdodge used to be most fun, now you have to strategically pause the moment when someone pops their head out so you can snipe them off and then move on.
      Half the time you do blind shooting though, as has been said.
      There is a VERY visibe enforcement of “go from cover to cover, you covershooter whore you” throughout the game, with whole sections being devoted to that very mechanic(sniper etc). They literally make you land in front of tables or start you off from behind something. This is a pretty huge thing if you remember that in MP you could play very nimble and mobile if you just shootdodged well enough.
      Here, the enemies are a LOT more lethal, as they can actually aim and shoot.
      Which, to be fair, I actually kind of liked. I mean, these are military personel, it would be rather idiotic if they couldn’t point their rifles at someone 6 feet away and hit.
      It did up the ante a bit, but it also nuked a good chunk of the old MP play mechanics alongside with it.

      I actually felt that the camera more than anything prevented a more non-bullet-time shoot-em-up approach, as THEY could see you around narrow corners and approaching just fine, but your POV was so screwed that you had to expose yourself 100% first, before you could see a thing.

  32. Fumarole says:

    edit – it would appear that I am not.

  33. Beelzebud says:

    So in other words, like a lot of modern games, it’s another shallow repetitive bore, wrapped in a beautiful package.

  34. zerosociety says:

    Visually stunning, really good gameplay, excellent refinements to the shooting mechanics, decent writing, great voice acting and… very little of the elements that made Max Payne unique or gave it the soul that made it a cult classic. Very disappointing story compared to MP1 and MP2 as well. It makes me really sad to think what Remedy could have done with this tech on an in-house developed Max Payne game.

    It’s gorgeous and fun, so it’s not like I hated it, but it didn’t have the emotional resonance of the 1st two.

  35. Syra says:

    It’s gunfights like this, and that is all you need to know.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9A4hBWVzdsw

    if you are drooling and itching to shoot people and watch bullets clip flesh in slow motion, you already have this game anyway.

  36. mseifullah says:

    I found out that “all those unnecessary cut scenes” are there because it’s actually — very quickly — loading the next area and assets.

  37. isr1eg says:

    I don’t know about angels, but it’s fear that gives men wings

    Havent played it yet, but, for me Max’s story ended extremely well with a well timed “Late Goodbye”.
    So, the question i ask is : does it feel like a Max Payne game, or like they ripped Max and his slow time super powers and putted it on another IP?
    The first game, due to my non-advanced age, was what took me from turtle slaguthering on SNES to a truly adult, violent, experience and most importantly, the game that defined me as a PC gamer.
    (yeah, i still played SNES on 2000, guess my parents never bothered giving me a PS1 or something…)

    Sry for bad english, im brazillian after all…. grammar-nazis may grammar-hammer me as they see fit.

    • zerosociety says:

      It’s Max Payne in a Kane & Lynch game. I’d go so far as to say it pretty much craps on all the events from MP2.

  38. reyn78 says:

    I would give it a 10/10 for story (very predictable, but very gripping nonetheless) if not for… checkpoints, checkPOINTS, F****ING CHECKPOINTS.

    To add insult to injury after few loading points the game starts telling you you are a noob by giving you more painkillers and ammo. “Soooo you need one more painkiller Max, since the guy with mouse in hand can’t shoot straight? No, chump if I could just SAVE where I like you could shove these in your… “

  39. Tayh says:

    I think it could have been funny if RPS had also gotten the bug where the game won’t save your progress, no matter how many chapters you completed.
    Douchebag Game: Hey dude, I know you made it to chapter 5 last night, and that you’re eager to see where the story goes now, but I’mma let you start at chapter two again. Have fun!
    Me: Fuck’s sake…

    Damnit Rockstar, give me my fucking manual save button. I’m on a PC, I can handle the responsibility!

  40. ohfouroneone says:

    I thought the game was too long, like there’s way too much time spent mindlessly shooting people just because. Also, the fact that it kept switching to a cutscene every other door you open got extremely annoying.

    The fact that the character (and the theme and the story) evolves, and the fact that he– while still being an action hero –has emotions (or even a personality at all) was refreshing, in terms of shooters. Writing that sentence makes me realise how far behind this genre of gaming is.

    • reyn78 says:

      When I realized that 1/ cutscene means a save 2/ cutscene masks loading of new area/level it stopped bugging me at all.

      • sneetch says:

        The ability to skip the rest of the cutscene would enable the game to load much, much faster, (after all the engine has already initialised and is quite often actually showing the start scenes in the level you’re about to play).

        • battles_atlas says:

          This thing about cut scenes being unskippable because of background loading is total balls. I looked into it last night because I wanted to play the campaign on hard, but really didn’t want to have to sit through everything again. It makes you sit through minutes at a time though, claiming that its loading. However if you load a game from cold at a point where there is no cut scene- just straight into the action – it takes my computer literally ten seconds, as opposed to several minutes. I don’t understand what is going on, but quite clearly its not just loading level assets. Either its devoting massive resources to just playing the cut scene, which seems highly unlikely, or a lot of the claimed loading is nothing of the sort.

        • RegisteredUser says:

          Here, too, I would say press return until it skips the cutscene. See how long it takes until it unlocks the “still loading” block.

      • Werthead says:

        Isn’t this the same engine from GTA4? Which, IIRC, had no need of loading screens at all. And if they really are loading a new area every time a cut scene plays, the level chunks are smaller than Valve’s, which seems highly unlikely with modern tech.

  41. Coldblade says:

    The FUCKING distortion on the cutscenes, man. It does not work for me at all.
    I get what the effect is trying to convey but, jesus shitting christ, at least give us the option to turn that off. It’s just like those games where you cannot deactivate the blur, it physically pains me (seems aproppiate, though).

  42. sneetch says:

    I love the game, on the fifth chapter and I’m really enjoying it so far, I can see how if you played the whole game in two long sessions it might wear thin but it’ll be a couple of weeks before I get time to finish it so I don’t think that’ll be an issue.

    I’m getting a good “Goldeneye” vibe from the arcade mode and the collectables, this might be the first shooter I replay shortly after completion since the first 2 (which I’ve just reinstalled) but the inability to skip the lengthy opening cutscenes will put a dampener on replaying the game.

  43. RegisteredUser says:

    Max Payne 3 was an average watchable Hollywood Action Movie (TM) with some noir elements via gritty voice-over and rather over-used special FX, that was sullied mostly by quite repetitive and constrictive user intervention sequences that required to shoot at people wot have guns.

  44. RegisteredUser says:

    Some of the actual game issues are classic, and have been bemoaned in other games, though oddly enough, not here.

    The game will force you to crawl-walk slow as hell through some places, just because it feels you are not allowed to rush. Not because it has to give you more inner monologue/exposition, at times that is really the case, but often just out of what seems spite.
    The run vs walk speed difference is a joke. There is no acceleration felt at all.
    Literally every moment of the game is scripted to death, and if you are trying to pretend to be exploring, you don’t know if you will accidentally stumble into the next level-advancement trigger or actually get to peruse the level.
    Max Payne has always been fairly linear, but this one is as monorail as things get.

    The checkpointing really is pretty horrible as has been mentioned in the review and means that if you mess up on the last 2-3 enemies – which often is the case – then you are gifted a replay of the last 10-15 minutes. This means 3 retries and you lose most of an hour with the same section.

    Another console fad hits home with the golden guns concept(collect 3 pieces of a gun, get a boosted version when you pick one of it up). It increases ammo count and power quite a bit for your guns, so it is rather annoying that you can either enjoy the game and walk through it, or constantly fret about not having found the darned last part of a 3 part gun.
    And of course when you try to search a level, you never know if you will accidentally move on to the next section before having the part you looked for, or are actually looking in the right place. This has the scripting at work again, as moving on also means locking you off from prior areas completely.

    What is even more, the game on the one hand slows you to a crawl, seemingly wanting you to enjoy the scenery and effort put into it, and then CONSTANTLY has both Max and everyone around him badger him to move on, to hurry, to go go go. It is extremely annoying, overdone and ill-befitting of the otherwise hazy-drunken stumble state.
    It feels like they couldn’t decide between a slow slog or a hurryhurryhurry feeling. I guess they were trying to do both; a haze-ridden drunk who has to rush through constant folly.
    Just plain doesn’t work for your enjoyment.

    The fidelity of almost everything that is done visually though is, as is said, astonishing.

    Where is the hot favela brothel coffee mod for this?
    Then again those people having sex all seemed to have had more clothes on than the people partying on the Yacht, so I guess its okay to have fist sized bulletholes through your skull and whatnot, but glimpses of sex still gotta be hush hush.

    • Werthead says:

      “What is even more, the game on the one hand slows you to a crawl, seemingly wanting you to enjoy the scenery and effort put into it, and then CONSTANTLY has both Max and everyone around him badger him to move on, to hurry, to go go go.”

      I didn’t understand why they did this when they also have the ‘look for clues’ thing, which they make a big deal of in the opening level/tutorial. If you ever actually stop for more than 5 seconds to look for these clues (most of which are very easily missed) then either your allies or Max himself will start going, “Got to move on!” Very weird.

  45. lordfrikk says:

    I played on Hard and boy, did I regret that in a few places. I think I spent more time looking at the “DEAD” screen than playing in some of the chapters.

    I also hated the devs with passion for always putting the checkpoints at shitty moments, like the one where you’re on the luggage conveyor belt and immediately after getting control there are guys in all directons shooting at you. Or after that when Max considers it a good idea to hide behind a single luggage trolley in an open hallway. Not to mention the last scene, that was a complete hell. I can’t imagine how frustrating it must be on Hardcore, not to mention “Old-school”.

  46. Grobmotoriker says:

    No Grenades in SP … :(
    Would be nice to see the goons fly around from the impact in slow-mo

  47. Treebard says:

    So say a guy never played the first Max Payne. Does it still hold up? Are there mods that will make it not hurt my eyes?

    • Werthead says:

      I believe there are some solid mods, although mostly replacing Max’s character model. I don’t know if there’s any that replace all of the NPCs and enemies. Environmental graphics I think are actually reasonably good, and the explosions, muzzle flares and things were actually way ahead of their time. If you can get used to the slightly primitive character models and their very stiff animation and lack of lip-synching in speech, you should be fine.

      MAX PAYNE 2 still looks excellent, however. Fully-functional physics (one of the very first games that had them, a year before HALF-LIFE 2), highly-detailed character models and impressive environments. Given there was only two years between them, MP2 is actually a more impressive jump forward in quality than MP3 is over MP2.

    • HeavyStorm says:

      Go play that without any second thoughts. The first one is the better.

      Graphics were not the objective, and dude, can’t you play a 16 bit game and still be marvelled? Max is about a fucked up noir story and combat (shooting). Go and meet the most educated cop that ever was.

  48. HeavyStorm says:

    “Perhaps anything that has been absent for long enough feels refreshing.”

    You mean, like, Diablo? Because, you know, this review looks exactly like your thoughts on Diablo.