May 18, 2012

You Can’t Outrun Your Past

Lasting First Impressions of Max Payne 3 from Rockstar Games

Max Payne BoxartI fondly remember the original two Max Payne titles, though I never actually played them myself.  I quite enjoyed watching my best friend (at the time) play through the game as it was truly like watching a great cinematic action film.  I was extremely enthralled with the ‘bullet time’ mechanic in the game since it was reminiscent of a very popular movie of the time, The Matrix, and no other game had attempted anything like it before.  Max Payne was a dark and gritty action movie with an iconic titular character, complete with a hugely compelling narrative, told directly via voiceover by Max himself.  Watching the game played out before me was just as much fun as playing it.

Fast forward 11 years from the original game and Rockstar Games has released, to much fanfare, the third title in the tale of Max Payne and all the fundamentals of the original have returned. Rockstar Games has painstakingly endeavoured to stay true to what makes a Max Payne game so special while, at the same time, upping the ante, so to speak, to create the most stylish, cinematic action shooter ever made.

Were they successful? In a word, yes! From the moment Max Payne 3 hits the screen, to the moment I forced myself to lay the controller down, this game kept me unwaveringly engaged in the story and the action.  Max Payne 3 is a nonstop rollercoaster ride that has no plans to ever let up.  Be prepared for everything from your typical run and gun style action to cover-based mechanics, from bullet-time-firing-while-sliding-down-the-side-of-a-building, to sniper rifles from a helicopter; Max Payne brings everything you’d expect from a fantastic over-the-top action film.

Max Payne 3 screen

In addition to the amazing story and action sequences, the developers at Rockstar Games have succeeded in truly allowing the player to make their Max Payne experience their own.  This game features a range of personal settings, including aiming choices, that can be adjusted to suit every player’s style.  Free Aim is the default setting from the original title and gives the player full control over where to place the weapon’s reticule. Players also have the option to change this to Soft Lock or Hard Lock.  Soft Lock essentially causes the weapon’s reticule to gravitate towards the nearest enemy while still allowing the player control over the fine tuning.  Hard Lock is the most accessible aiming style for those who are either new to the shooter genre of games or those who just want to enjoy the story, as it will simply snap to the nearest enemy allowing the player to just fire away, creating incredibly cinematic shots every time.

Max Payne 3 screen 2

One of the most ingenious and incredibly fun upgrades to bullet time is the addition of Bullet Cams.  This is something I found myself utilizing every time it was available.  When the last enemy in an area or wave has been taken down, the gameplay will follow the final bullet to its painful resting place, but the player can also slow the camera down and continue to fire the weapon and watch as every bullet pummels the enemy on his way to the blood soaked floor.

There is so much in Max Payne 3, from the gorgeously realistic visuals, to bullet time, from the cover mechanics (a first for Max Payne), to the gritty, noir story and graphic novel cut-scenes, complete with Max Payne’s iconic monologue.  This game literally has it all and is not a title you will want to pass up.

Rockstar Games, I gave you an hour and I am immensely IMPRESSED.  Now I want to go back and play the original two titles.

About the Author

Sean is an avid gamer and lover of all thing tech. He is a dedicated husband and the father to three beautiful daughters. In addition to taking his love of gaming to a new level with this site, Sean is also host of our podcasts: The OMG! Hour, Lost Treasures of Gaming, and Primetime as well as the bi-weekly podcast mashup show, Gamers Unscripted. Follow Sean on Twitter as @Xiantayne and this blog as @OMGnexus.



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