Max Payne 3: Gorgeous, Gritty, And Dumb

6 thumbs up
Let's cut right to the chase. The first and most important thing you need to know about Max Payne 3 is this:  It's not a happy game. In the first Max Payne, you assumed the role of a deep undercover DEA agent tasked with breaking a massive drug ring. On the night of the worst snowstorm in New York's history, Payne finally breaks the case and avenges the murder of his wife and daughter three years earlier. Max Payne 2 was more morally ambiguous, but there was still a sense of being one of the good guys.

Bringing the Payne -
In Max Payne 3, you play a bitter, middle-aged drunk. Max remains unnaturally eagle-eyed and spry enough in combat, but there's nothing like vomiting into the sink after a night of binge drinking to kill your sense of accomplishment. The first two games appealed to the idea of a greater good to justify Max's actions; MP3 doesn't even try. The over-the-top descriptions and film noir atmosphere are both gone, along with any chance Payne ever had at a happy ending.


The sun went down with practiced bravado.

When most game developers want you to hate a character, they load him up with the foulest mouth this side of Jersey, and have him beat a few women and children. Rockstar deserves enormous credit for taking an entirely different approach; the reason it's so hard to like Max Payne in MP3 is that Max hates himself. 12 years after the events of MP2, he's working in Sao Paulo as a security guard for an incredibly wealthy family. He despises them. He despises himself. Then he gets drunk, passes out, wakes up intoxicated, and heads off to work the next morning.  Living the dream, as they say.


Our Hero - Doing the Michael Jackson

A vague sense of duty and an unwillingness to tolerate violence toward women are the two threads of character that tie the Payne of 2012 to his 2003 self, and the former has been badly eroded by an endless supply of cheap liquor and self-loathing.

So no. It's not a happy game. If you're looking for that sense of righteousness brought on by being the rogue cop who delivers the sort of rough justice "the system" can't, you won't find it here.

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I always like reading your reviews, I usually have a good laugh or three while reading them. This one is no different!

The graphics look excellent (minus the cut scenes- I like realistic better), and the story line sounds pretty good. I'm not much of a gamer but I do like to sit down and watch the bf play, kind of like sitting back and watching a movie. This one looks like it'd be great to watch!

Thanks for the review

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Glad you like Joel's stuff, Manduh. We do too. :)

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I'm not sure what you mean about the cutscenes. There are definitely realistic portions interspersed with the comic-book panel style. I think Rockstar handled the transitions well. I don't understand the TV-like vertical lines or the random word flashes, but that doesn't change the overall quality.

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I guess I didn't word it right...sorry :) I didn't actually mean the quality of the cut scenes were bad, just that I don't prefer the style.  I like cut scenes that feel more like watching a movie. I think seeing the comic book style might take some of that feel away for me. If I was more of a player and not a watcher I'd probably like them. :P  

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"Now, it's possible that that in Brazil, "street gang" is code for "Three dozen young men with bullet-resistant T-shirts, sniper rifles, AK-47s, Uzis, and Special Forces training."

You should watch Elite Squad, - makes it a bit more believable

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Great review Joel, one of my good friends worked on this game here at Rockstar Toronto. I'll have to play the game now and keep some of your points in mind when I tell him how good/bad it is.

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It's not a bad game. Just a somewhat schizophrenic one. The chapters in New Jersey feel like the old Max Payne; some of the Brazil sequences have the hard-boiled / gritty feeling that characterizes the primary storyline, and then there's a random sniper shooting that *should* take your arm off (but doesn't), shooting RPGs out of the air multiple times, and just over-the-top sillyness that cuts against the grain of the realistic environments and serious take on Payne's life. 

 

 

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Game is amazing, this review is garbage.

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I think the author was a bit too harsh, and focused too much on the shortcommings.

I'll start telling that I'm from Sao Paulo, Brazil. And a film-noir setting here would not work. We don't have those depressing snowy nights or empty backalleys where your murder can just walk away. This city is noisy all the time.

What we have that is opressive enough to fit a Max Payne game are indeed the favelas and that sense of helplessness caused by authority corruption. But favelas is the opposite of what is usual on film-noir; they're very lively, almost cheerful if not for the constant fear you can almost taste walking up and down the muddy paths. There are always people around, but you can't tell wolf from sheep, and should you get robbed, kidnapped, shot, or whatever, the whole community (as we sometimes call it) could be watching, no one will do anything about it (they won't even think of it as something odd).

In a favela, it doesn't matter the time of the day, and it's not like danger could be crawling behind your back, danger is always there, and the tension is caused by the possibility of being noticed or not (and Max shirt in that chapter is just like... wtf).

The city feels right, the favela feel right... the voice acting is sometimes a bit awkward, but overall good, and at times dialogues feel too much like Elite Troops (Tropa de Elite) movies, and the disco at chapter II, as well as the music and people in it feels more like Rio de Janeiro, but I guess Rio is in fact Brazil's face for the rest of the world.

As far as character goes, I do like the progression through this game. At sometimes I just felt like if I died at some point it would be part of the story, and like Max, I was surprised how that never came to happen. I confess I was a bit tired of playing a character that was indeed someone special, despite past ghosts and regrets, and w/e bs writers come up with. I dont think Max was ever about getting around his past as much as accepting the idea of dying, and just refusing to simply die and not shoot back.

Shooting RPGs down I aggree is silly (but looked awesome with a punchline in R.E.D) but we're talking about a guy that can distribute a glock's full clip among 6 people's head in one dive, and that part, we all love.

Anyway, thinking about it now, this review is utterly shallow, and while I understand I inherently have a better understanding of the setting, author could have went deeper into the elements criticized.

Btw, the multiplayer is awesome. The idea rockstar had to deal with cheaters is gold (not sure if it'll work, but the concept is brilliant).

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This is one of the worst review I’ve ever read.

I am so glad I didn’t come here before buying the game or I could have missed on one of the best action shooter ever. It ain’t perfect, but it sure is miles ahead of any other action shooter out there. The core gameplay is addicting and the story is great. Also, it is one of the most beautiful game on the market. Saying this game isn’t worth any more than 20$ is beyond stupid and a proof of how retarded this review and whoever wrote this garbage is.

This was the first, and needless to say, the last time I come here for anything game related.

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