Max Payne 3: Gorgeous, Gritty, And Dumb

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Hitting Every Branch On The Ugly Tree

Rockstar's unwavering look at alcoholism and its decidedly un-glamorous portrayal of poverty in Sao Paolo are directly at odds with the way it handles injuries and damage modeling.

That's gonna leave a mark...

At one point fairly early in the game, Max is ambushed by a sniper who puts a bullet in his arm. You spend the next several minutes teetering towards safety, barely conscious, while your buddy cop / partner, Passos, hunts for a first aid kit.

There are so many problems with this, it's hard to know where to start. If you've played Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (CoD 4), you may recall a one-armed Russian as the primary villain. The reason he's down to just one arm is that the other was shot off by a sniper.

The M2A81 fires .50 caliber bullets, like those on the far left.

The rifle in Max Payne 3 is apparently an M2A81, which fires 0.50 caliber munition (pictured above). When a bullet hits flesh in real life, it creates a shockwave in the tissues surrounding the impact point. It's this shockwave that's responsible for most of the damage associated with being shot, assuming that the bullet doesn't fragment. Therein lies the actual problem -- even a monolithic sniper bullet to the center of the bicep will shatter bone and pulverize muscle. The actual impact may not take your arm off, but the doctor almost certainly will -- if the blood loss doesn't kill you.

Max, in contrast, is up and about after some bandages and painkillers.

In a game like Max Payne, getting shot and shrugging it off is just part of the action. Rockstar goes beyond that; they call out the sniper round as a MAJOR GAME EVENT. For comparison, here's what Max looks like after barely surviving an explosion:

Little known fact: Max Payne actually owns an interior decoration firm.

Same idea, done infinitely better. Ironically, it a cutscene a few hours after the events shown above, Max pulls off the bandage for his arm wound, revealing a faded puckered scar.

Other problems include an absurdly short range on gunfire, and a two-gun firing mode that automatically drops your two-handed weapon without prompting. Worse, two-handed mode is assigned to "3" by default, while your 2H gun is "4." Make a mistake when you swap weapons, and you'll run off, leaving your AK-47 behind in favor of a pair of snubnose 38s. This can at least be changed, but you'd think Max Payne's boss could've invested in a shoulder strap. MP3 is the only game I know of where choosing to use two guns already in your possession means throwing away the third.

In some areas, the molotov cocktails literally fly out of thin air. There's no enemy -- they just appear as if chucked by an angry God. At other points, Max is tasked with shooting RPGs out of the air. With a pistol.

The campy, over-the-top, ridiculous approach worked when Max Payne was a campy, over-the-top game with a love interest/femme fatale named Mona Sax. It doesn't work at all with a hero who's buried in the bottle and consumed by self-loathing.

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