Review: Max Payne 3 PDF Print E-mail

After nine long years, Max Payne 3 makes a return under the guise of a different developer, RockStar Games, the studio responsible for hits like Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead Redemption. 

Once again, they've been able to find that perfect blend between story and action and produced an excellent third person shooter.

It's been almost 11 years since Max tragically lost his family and he is now employed as private security for a rich South American family. After the wife is kidnapped, Max and his partner go off to save her.

As always, things are not as they seem and Max is caught up in the middle. Add in a bevy of suspicious characters, a beautifully constructed but grimy Sao Paulo underworld, and the result is an engaging, addictive story.

One of my favourite aspects of the game is the portrayal of Max Payne as a deeply flawed protagonist. He is tormented and haunted by the loss of his family and is a pill-popping alcoholic. Yet, he has unfaltering moral conviction and does whatever it takes to do the right thing. The result is a character that you can sympathise with, despite his penchant for self-destruction.

The story is told through cutscenes that punctuate the fast-paced action. The combat is incredibly simple and plays almost exactly like the previous Max Payne games except for a few updates - it uses a cover based system and you can set how easily your aiming reticule tracks baddies. As with the previous games, Max can trigger "bullet time", an ability that slows down time – very useful for jumping into a room full of baddies and taking them out in one fell swoop.

The game has a number of flaws. It is incredibly linear with no room to explore the environments; Max's character doesn't improve or gain skills over the course of the game and the combat doesn't increase in difficulty. Fortunately, the combat is enjoyable that these don't matter too much.

Multiplayer maintains the pace of the single player. There is a variety of individual and team deathmatch based game modes, the best of which is "gang wars". You play a number of rounds with different objectives, like diffusing bombs or assassinating rival team leaders. Reaching your objective provides perks in the fifth and final round, a team deathmatch mode. The objective-based gameplay forces teamwork and makes for tense combat.

The combat in Max Payne is incredibly simple but has a deeply engaging narrative to support it. The game isn't perfect – the linear storyline and minimalist combat seems a bit outdated. However, these issues are relatively small compared to the overall polish of this title and I felt very satisfied at the end of the campaign.  The game is an action tour de force that maintains a frenetic pace from start to end.

IN SUMMARY
 
Pros: Strong story and narrative; brilliant acting; stunning environments and graphics; simple combat system; replayable game modes; fun team based multiplayer with no lag.
Cons: Linear storyline; short for a Rockstar game; quicktime events are frustrating; no grenades in single player.
Score: 8/10
Achievement difficulty: 8/10 (I ended with 170gs at the end of my first playthrough)
Time to completion: 12 hours
Price: R605
Contact: BT Games - www.btgames.co.za

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