What I’m Backing
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I never had any interest in playing Max Payne 3, and I found the trailer (at least, the one constantly peddled on Hulu the week before the game’s release) completely uninspiring. “Wow, a main character protecting rich guy tries to redeem himself by getting back rich guy’s sexy-but-obnoxious girlfriend?” Yawn.
The only thing that ever even slightly piqued my interest was, “Wait, Max Payne is bald now?”
With trailers for games like Borderlands 2, BioShock Infinite, and even the Cataclysm cinematic, I couldn’t find anything to get excited about in the one for Max Payne. Successfully, I ignored it.
But then I got a Gamefly account because I am a fool who likes playing video games. I had no reason not to toss it into my game queue. It showed up in my mailbox in short order, and I grudgingly gave it a shot.
Holy shit guys, this game totally rocks my world.
It turns out this is exactly the sort of game I love: a fantastic mix of storytelling, action, and a character to whom, despite his obvious foibles, you grow nonsensically attached. Max Payne is absolutely an angry, alcoholic, pill-popping, bad-decision dinosaur, but god help me if I didn’t want the very best for him. And if I don’t care about my main character, then why the hell am I playing the game?
If you’ve played any of the other Max Payne ‘s, you know how weirdly complicated the plots can get. The basic idea in this case is that years after Max Payne 2, an old police buddy mops up Max’s alcohol-sodden body from a bar in Hoboken and offers him a bodyguard job protecting a stupidly rich Brazilian family, the Brancos. It turns out other people in Brazil want that ridiculous amount of money and are willing to throw countless faceless bad guys at you in order to get it. Pew pew, bullet time, etc.
It’s been years since I played the original Max Payne, but I can safely say that bullet-time is still pretty awesome and the controls are very well streamlined.
The gameplay is made up of shooting and action between expositional cut-scenes; the first 10-15 minutes of the game were a little cut-scene heavy, but afterwards it leveled out pretty well. I felt like I spent most of my time shooting people instead of watching a movie. I’d say the action was mostly a series of shoot-out situations (duck and cover, kids!), with occasional variations thrown in; in the variations you’d be able to forget protected yourself for awhile, and be handed a rifle to protect another character from being overrun. Fun stuff!
The controls are simple and easy to remember. I’ve had issues with other games where I’d couldn’t remember how to do a complicated move required to get past a certain point – never a problem I had here. Additionally the level design was solid, guiding you through each location with just enough space to give it the appearance of being large, yet not allowing you to get lost. Very well done.
I only have 2 complaints: the Clues and the Golden Guns. There are clues scattered around each level, and while they’re mentioned once in the initial tutorial level, it’s never clear what their purpose is, and it’s never clear how you find them. They’re not lit up or a different color, they’re just randomly scattered around; if you’re lucky enough to walk near one you’ll be prompted to take a look, but otherwise you’re sort of SOL. The Golden Guns suffer a similar fate; though they are lit up in a shiny gold, they’re stuck in random, easily missed corners.
Of course, if it was easy it wouldn’t be a challenge. Plus it’s clear that you don’t need to find everything to be successful at the game, so I can understand why there aren’t giant neon arrows pointing everything out for you.
Oh, and I almost forgot. The soundtrack? Amazing. All written by HEALTH, a sort of indie-electronic band, every song is pumped full of tension perfect for the action sequences. The song for the final level in particular was wonderfully chosen. I probably heard “TEARS” play a dozen times as I attempted the final area, and each time I respawned the song pumped me up to kick some ass. A well-chosen soundtrack really makes a game so much more fun to play, especially if you’re prone to death like I am.
The bottom line here is that I feel like this game is the entire package. I’ve found it’s rare for a game to get the trifecta done really well: gameplay, plot, characters & dialogue. Often it’s skewed to one or two of the verticies and misses the third, but Max Payne 3 gets the job done admirably. The annoying parts of the game weren’t deal-breakers and in the end didn’t really effect my overall enjoyment.
If you’re worried about the amount of content, don’t – after you finish the storyline there’s plenty of arcade-style timed levels you can do, as well as all your achievements, Grinds, and multiplayer (which I never actually tried, but heard was pretty good).
Basically, if you like yourself a badass anti-hero with some great voice-acting and killer one-liners, make Max your go-to. He’s kind of the man.