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Sunday, 9 February 2014

Rik's Reaction to MAX PAYNE 3 (PC)

I recently finished the final chapter of the Max Payne story and I think I liked it! However... I have come away with some mixed feelings...

So firstly what is Max Payne 3? Well you play as the Max in the title, an ex NYPD cop who after the events of the first two games finds himself with his wife and baby murdered, his best friend dead and another woman he grew to care about shot in the back. Sooo understandably, this leaves Max carrying some hefty emotional baggage around with him, a suitcase made of scar tissue, full of regrets.

He's life weary cynicism personified, he's been through too much.. seen too much and no matter how hard he tries to find redemption or a way out of his own internal pain... things just seem to get from bad to worse.

Max Payne is probably the most apt name for a character ever conceived.

However he is also hard as nails and a master of film noir metaphor, believe me you'll come away from this game with a gritty one liner for nearly any situation. For example...

Max - “I didn’t know what to think any more. This town had more smoke and mirrors than a strip club locker room."

Use that one next time your confused about something, it will be fine trust me.

We start the 3rd game with Max now out of the NYPD as I say, pretty much propping up a local bar in New Jersey and trying to find some answers at the bottom of a Whisky glass.

Max Payne - "I've been sitting at the bar for three hours, or five years, depending on how you look at things"

During a drunken fight with some apparent hoodlums, Max tries to do the right thing... and ends up killing the only son of local mob boss Anthony DeMarco, who puts a price on his head.

So! It's off to Brazil for Max to a new life of private security away from it all and more importantly a particular mob boss. Enjoy the sunshine!

Now about those mixed feelings I have.

On one hand this game oozes style. The gun play and fire fights just "look" cool and at times almost appear choreographed in the way they play out, it's quite a spectacle to behold. When you combine that with Max's gravel voiced narration and an attention to detail which only Rockstar can provide, the game can feel like you're in the middle of greatest action movie ever made, which is brilliant!

On the other hand, I really felt like it dragged on way too long and as a game it could have been over in half the time really. It introduces utterly nothing new after the first 5 minutes. Beyond different locations, different weapons and harder enemies you'll pretty much be standing in cover shooting bad guys, or doing the same but in slow motion, for roughly 10 hours.

The slow motion is excellent by the way. I did a short video of one sequence which might demonstrate...

I'm not saying I didn't enjoy it, but paradoxically I'm not saying I did. The highs were few and far between for me, as were the lows, and for the most part I just went through the game shooting people in cool looking ways. Wading through bullet casings and stepping over dead bodies.

The story feels like it should take centre stage, but it doesn't, the gun battles is where the spotlight is firmly shone. The narrative technique is the same all the way through and the pacing is rigid in that in never changes. At no point did I feel like I was on the edge of my seat racing to climatic plot point.. or kicking back soaking up words to flesh out the world or characters... 

The graphics, animation, musical score and attention to detail all combine to create some real Hollywood action sequences 

That isn't to say it isn't well acted, well animated or well written, it is. High production values are apparent throughout, and Rockstar have done a stellar job of making places seem real. Some of the locales are amazing in their detail, the airport level for example feels like an airport should.

Its layout, the fake adverts on the walls, the sounds of the jets, the PA systems the baggage conveyor... just marvellous.

And yet, with all this high praise, Max Payne 3 will remain an average game in my eyes, just because it was an average experience for me, which ultimately boiled down to the game lacking variety.

Whether you love this game or not, as always, it's personal taste and in this case how much you love a cool gunfight.

It's good! But, is it for you?

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