Guest Author - James Shea
The revival of a classic shooter series, "Max Payne 3" offers incredible visuals and cinematography but is ultimately simplistic from a gameplay standpoint.
Max Payne 3 puts you in the shoes of the titular protagonist, fresh off two murder-revenge sprees and now doing private security for a rich Brazilian businessman and his family. "Private security" naturally translates to "shooting lots of people", and in essence the game's story can be summed up as "something happens, causing a lot of people to shoot at Max". It's really just shooting connected by cutscenes, and the reasons for people to shoot at Max become more and more convoluted as the game progresses.
MP3 is a third-person cover-shooter with slow-motion mechanics. The cover-shooter aspect is obvious; it's been done in a million games before, and it'll be done in a million afterwards. The slow-motion can be used in one of two ways. It can be activated by either pressing a button (which consumes "juice") or by diving (which doesn't). Slow-mo is primarily necessary to get headshots, since shooting enemies anywhere else doesn't really faze them.
Health in MP3, unlike most cover shooters, doesn't regenerate naturally. Instead, Max must find painkillers to restore his health. The problem with this is that unlike most games with fixed health systems (like DOOM, for example) is that there's actually very few ways to avoid being shot. There are so many enemies that being clipped is pretty much inevitable even if you're diving in bullet time. The game even recognizes this fact, giving you free painkillers if you die multiple times. It's a poorly implemented and oftentimes frustrating system. To complicate this, you very rarely get anything like grenades to even up the combat - you just have to rely on shooting no matter how many enemies the game throws at you. As such, dying over and over is basically inevitable.
The game looks extremely nice, and the cutscenes are fairly well directed. The graphics and textures look amazing, and slain enemies ragdoll extremely well (as opposed to some games where they look goofy and unnatural). Yet the problem is that this is all basically a cover for a largely empty game. You run through a thousand nice-looking locales shooting millions of nice-looking enemies, but that's all the game is: gun battles tied loosely together by cutscenes. The game for the most part just gets BORING, and while there are some satisfying moments to be found, it's really just not that fun. The game's tone is gritty and oppressive, but it's still too goofy and cartoonish to be actually poignant or taken seriously. The game's multiplayer is a little more interesting, but it's also incredibly unbalanced (dual pistols beat everything) and the unlock system makes things even worse.
Overall, Max Payne 3 is only really great if you're incredibly into cover shooters. It is, perhaps, the apex of the cover shooter genre, but it's also incredibly boring unless you're looking for 15+ hours of pointing a gun at people's heads and clicking the mouse. There's no interesting ideas or concepts, just an incredibly well-rendered but also incredibly stupid game.
We purchased this game with our own funds in order to do this review.
Buy Max Payne 3 from Amazon.com