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Published June 4th 2012
Rockstar Vancouver has published the latest game in the Max Payne franchise, Max Payne 3. Voiced by James McCaffrey, Max sets out on his latest dark adventure, this time in Brazil. He has been hired to keep the wealthy Branco family safe, however the wife of the eldest Branco is kidnapped and Max sets out on the hunt for her return. The game is driven by story, if you are not learning more about Max himself; you are experiencing some of the noir-esque cut scenes that effortlessly transfer to game play in the blink of an eye. This is where the game excels, allowing for constant action and some excellent set pieces that guide you through this plot of sabotage and devastation. Max Payne 3 is an action blockbuster.
The mentality of Max throughout the game is interesting to watch. Still dealing with the deaths of his Wife and Daughter you follow his almost suicidal like mind, as he binges on alcohol and pops an obscene amount of pain killers. This vulnerability allows the character to seem realistic, seeing cracks in the mind of the protagonist allows you to relate to him on a human level unlike other gaming heroes.
Game play is centred around the Bullet Time and Bullet Dodge mechanics, Bullet Time allows you to slow down a moment in time during missions to allow for more accurate and concentrated shooting. The Bullet Dodge however allows you to dive in slow motion to take down that enemy that may be hiding around the corner, although leaving you vulnerable to gunfire when you land. The real star here is Euphoria, the games technology that allows for characters to react almost exactly like a real person would. For instance I shot an enemy in the leg and he grabbed for it, crippling from that section of his body, this makes for a unique system where almost every gunfight can be drastically different.
Max Payne 3 is not an easy feat; even on the lower difficulty levels you will be challenged. During the end game the levels tend to jump to 11 in terms of difficulty and in terms of the soundtrack. The last few missions allow for some really action-heavy pieces of music, setting the atmosphere that you are almost at the conclusion of your journey. Although Rockstar is known for its open-world sandbox structure this game is not the case, being almost completely linear. This is not a negative however because it has allowed them to create a streamlined action experience, where they can drive the story in the direction they intended.
The greatest strength of Max Payne is the narrative, an engrossing story that never dulls long enough to lose interest, together with a cohesive plot that allows Max to evolve during the game. You care for Max and want to see him make it through; you are also treated to some of the best gunplay that Rockstar has ever been able to pull off in their extended gaming history.
Max Payne 3 has set the bar high in terms of quality in the third person shooter genre; games released post MP3 will be judged to this standard accordingly. Rockstar has taken a step away from their norm to take you on a non-stop action thrill ride. Sure the game may only allow you to be directed down one path, but that path allows Rockstar to take you on a story driven experience like no other.
Max Payne 3 is available on Playstation 3, Xbox 360 and PC.