I’m not usually one to purchase new releases, but 2 weeks ago, I bought Max Payne 3 on impulse. There was a good deal, and I couldn’t pass on it. Wal-Mart was selling it brand new for $40 and it also included as a bonus game, GTAIV: Episodes From Liberty City. Two games for the discounted price of one. And on a side note, what’s with this recent trend of rapidly reducing new releases from full price to discounted prices? Are they not selling?
A decade has passed and Max has gotten a little older. He’s left his New York and Jersey roots for greener pastures. Having left his former life, Max starts anew as a bodyguard for a rich and famous family in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The Branco family consists of 3 brothers: Rodrigo, the wealthy businessman, Victor, the aspiring politician, and Marcelo, the young and obnoxious party-goer. Think about that – the shit is surely to hit the fan. And it’s not long before all the kidnappings and killings occur. Who better to get on this case than former cop, Max Payne. In typical noir style, as Payne gets closer to finding the hostages, more mystery is unveiled. It’s an dish that’s embroiled in treason and politics. Well serve me a plate.
I don’t think anyone expects Max Payne 3 to be a game of the year or anything, but it is a very solid outing. No, it doesn’t deviate too far from the formula established by the first 2 entries. Rather, it seems its existence is to refine it. If you were hoping for something new and radical in the Max Payne department, you may be disappointed. It’s not quite as dark and gritty as Max Payne 1 or 2, due to the atmospheric nature of its South American setting, yet it is still able to maintain the film noir feeling thanks to the storytelling style and the strong narrative.
The story hits all the tropes you would expect from a film noir-type story. There’s twists and turns, murder and sordid romance. It’s all there. The strength of the game is in its storytelling. The dialogue and voice acting is strong all across the board – something seemingly common with Rockstar Games. Max comments on all the different atrocities that he comes across. In fact, he seemed to have a different line for every bottle of painkiller that he picked up. I had a self-imposed challenge to pick up every possible pack of painkillers just to hear what he would say. But painkillers aside, the dialogue and monologues are great throughout.
However, the story feels less personal than the preview two entries. Although you play as Max in the entire game, we only get bits and pieces of HIS story. The centrality of the story doesn’t revolve around Max – it is with the Branco family. Which is probably my only complaint about the game. We don’t get enough of Max.
The game spans 14 chapters, with the campaign lasting anywhere between 8 to 10 hours. The majority of the game takes place in the current time, however, there are a few chapters that take place in the past, bridging the 2nd game and this one.
Another thing I really liked was the soundtrack and score. It creates this feeling of tension throughout the game. The music and the atmosphere reminded me of a combination of the movies Spartan (one of Val Kilmer’s best, in my opinion) and the Brazilian movies Elite Squad 1 and 2. If you’ve never seen any of those 3 movies, do yourself a favour, they’re all pretty great.
Although I only spent 20 minutes with it, there is also a multiplayer mode. I can’t comment too much on it since my experience with it is limited, but it’s there. And according to other reviews, it’s one of the stronger aspects with the game.
In the end, is it worth a purchase? Probably not a full price purchase. But it is definitely worth the $40 I spent, including the GTA IV bonus disc. And in fact, I traded in the game anyways for Dead Island GOTY! If you’re just in it for the story, rent it and experience it. It’s worthy of a playthrough at the very least. Until next time, later geeks!