Review: Max Payne 3 (Xbox 360)

By Wayne Webb

Max Payne was a bit of legendary game when it launched back in 2001, with its outstanding graphics, engaging storyline and gameplay.Fast Forward a decade later and Max Payne 3 delivers all of those and more into an interactive movie/game that shows how close the two genres are becoming.

Max Payne is an ex-cop with a brutal history and tragic personal life (earlier installments dealt with this in greater detail, but they still inform his every move), which of course leads to massive personality defects. Max is an alcoholic with serious cynicism and despair issues. This is a brilliantly made game with stunning acting and graphics to make it truly shine. It’s also quite depressing. It’s an ongoing orgy of death, despair and betrayal delivered by means of a plot so twisty that Chubby Checker could name a dance after it. After a few hours I could have done with some comic relief, but there was none, just more death and black moods.

This does lend itself to the atmosphere of the game quite well though, the effect of drunkenness on your senses and the constant chugging of painkillers do have a wonderfully psychedelic effect on the screen. The massive amount of detail makes for a fully engaging experience and if Film Noir or ultra violent action flicks are your things then Max Payne could be the ultimate game for you. Bullet time allows greater dealing of death, and allows you to edge your way through some tricky situations. The targeting system can be turned up or down in difficulty as your mood suits which means that beginners or experts can play with equal enjoyment.

The cut scenes are scripted and acted masterfully and the high quality here makes up for the constant gloomy outlook and frequent profanity to deliver a gaming classic likely to set the standard in movie/game hybrids. Game modes abound as well, with multiplayer versions, which I have never favored in story games, and arcade/high score modes that allow you to replay chapters in various ways and difficulties to increase the replay value of the experience. Some gun battles come with immense destruction and warrant replaying – like the jet boat scenes or running through the Favelas in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

If you have played Max Payne before then you’ll know what to expect in the 3rd edition. If not, then be warned that this is not for kids or anyone who doesn’t like their characters bleak.

Pros: Well written, acted and designed, great soundscape and game play, return to familiar territory.
Cons: So dark it’s wearisome on occasion.

4.5 Shacks Out of 5

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