Max Payne 3 Review (Xbox 360)

Posted by Jim Cook, May 16, 2012 13:28

Max Payne 3 is a game I didn’t expect would be made, since its predecessor was released nearly a decade ago. Yet it’s here, and continues the series’ trademark blend of stunt-based gun fighting in pretty much the way fans would imagine. What makes this installment different is the addition of some enjoyable online modes, and it works together with the story mode to provide a good package. Despite a few stumbles along the way, this was mostly worth the wait.

Max Payne 3 (Xbox 360)The single-player campaign puts you back in the role of Max, who continues to be in a downward spiral of depression and alcoholism in light of his last few battles against crime. Despite being a complete mess of a human being by this point in the story, he’s still an excellent gun-fighter and has found a job in South America as a corporate bodyguard. Hopes of a low-effort, high-pay job are dashed when the people under his care are targeted for kidnapping or death, and a ’simple’ hostage situation grows into a much wider problem. Max Payne has his usual sour opinion of all this, and shares it regardless of whether he’s blasting through important locations in São Paulo or recalling some of the events that lead up to this point in his life.

Like the other Max Payne games, this one is mostly a third person shooter that gives you a few real-world guns, some painkillers as portable health regeneration, and a special meter you can spend on stunts or entering ’bullet time’ to slow opponents down. Gun fights in this series have repeatedly been compared to John Woo’s films as well as The Matrix, and these descriptions remain apt. You’re usually given just enough ammo to deal with the problem (and can salvage more from dead enemies if needed), and urged to keep rushing your enemies with stunts and gunshots.

Players will have to find the right mix between aggression and caution, though. You face a lot of enemies at the same time, often from multiple angles, and will need to quickly come up with a plan to take them out. A new, basic ’snap to cover’ system is an obvious nod to more recent shooters, and combined with wisely spending your meter on the bullet time mode you’ll have what you need to stay safe. Yet you can’t be too careful, as many stages will automatically fail (mercifully kicking you back to the nearest checkpoint, so you’re only losing a few minutes of play time) if you take too long to move on.

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Our Rating for Max Payne 3 Review (Xbox 360)
7.5 Replay
While the story mode is understandably somewhat routine, it also offers an ’arcade mode’ for score attack play. Online competition is also a lot of fun, even if it does unfortunately require players to go through several matches to unlock more things for their character to use. Fortunately, even the starting equipment is viable.
8.5 Graphics
Stages are very detailed, and cover a variety of themes. Character designs in single-player are also excellent, though a brief visual distortion effect meant to convey Max’s pill-popping, alcoholic nature ends up being over-used.
8.5 Sound
Decent music is accompanied by Rockstar’s typical fantastic voice work, and generally convincing weapon effects that give a feeling of power to your gunshots.
7.5 Gameplay
Story mode is merely decent, and its repetitive fights may get tedious if played for too long at a time. Online play easily redeems it, carrying over much of the series’ trademark ’stunt gunfighting’ in convincing fashion without feeling ridiculous.
8.5 Multiplayer/Online Content
Convenient matchmaking and good map design lead to a lot of fun online. Team play is very engaging, and is strangely enough the best thing in a game whose predecessors were more known for single-player content.
8.0 Overall
Excellent online play and an acceptable story mode add up to a pretty good package. Players interested in both halves will be the ones best served by this release, as the online versus modes have some meaningful competition from other games and the campaign may not be enough on its own.

Rating: 4.3, votes: 10

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