It’s been almost ten years since Max Payne last dodged his way through storms of bullets and blew away cardboard cut-out bad guys, and age hasn’t slowed him down one bit, writes Craig Rafe-Evans.
Set nine years after the last bout of Payne, our protagonist - now retired and drinking more than Phil Mitchell - finds work as a personal bodyguard in São Paulo Brazil for the wealthy Branco family.
As by ritual things quickly go wrong and Max finds himself trying to locate various kidnapped members of the family all over the country. It is a depressing story and not very emotive.
It can be quite boring and tedious - you’ll find yourself losing interest very easily. The plot constantly skips back to earlier significant parts of Mr Payne’s life giving a refreshing and varied look throughout.
Approximately half way through this bullet fest, Max Payne goes all John McClane and shaves his head (he even rocks a white vest at some point, an obvious nod).
This new look is both brave and bold, and yes pun intended. It serves as a nice metaphor for how the series has grown and changed with the times. Max is not a New York cop anymore, he is a gun for hire, with a mean beard.
The classic formula remains the same but with the obvious next-gen overhaul, and beautifully groundbreaking visuals. The graphic novel style cut-scenes have been dropped for a more cinematic approach which bridges the gap between each game play segment.
They also serve as a mask for covering up each time the game needs to load, giving a fluid and seamless feel. The game play is mostly none-stop high octane action where the goal is to eliminate enemy after enemy in order to advance to the next stage.
The weapons have spine and feel very responsive. Even when you pause this world of John Woo it is a spectacle to behold as it gives you the option to pan around Max and inspect the detail, which is nothing short of painstaking and eye-popping.
Early on in this third instalment of neo noir you are obliged and encouraged to make good use of the signature slow motion bullet-time which has been completely reworked and is as smooth as Payne’s newly skinned head.
As you progress the game becomes increasingly difficult; the game over screen becomes a frequent and frustrating sight to eyeball - to put it bluntly the game is harder than Blackpool rock. Each level is sparsely populated with heath pick-ups that take the form traditionally as painkillers.
The golden tactic then is to take full advantage of the cover base system. Take cover, pop out, eliminate, rinse and repeat. Apart from the odd cinematic set piece you’ll spend a lot of time hiding behind convenient waist high objects.
Max Borrows heavily from the Uncharted franchise which isn’t a bad thing. However, one particularly frustrating flaw is the fact that if you have a two handed weapon such as a rifle or shotgun equipped, every time the games shifts from gameplay to mid-level cut-scene and then back again, a one handed weapon is automatically selected.
This proves to be a very frustrating flaw and will see you bite it even more so.
The multiplayer element of the game is an outstandingly addictive experience and well, to be honest a hell of a lot of fun. Rockstar have some how managed to cram all of the single player mechanics into chaos fuelled online battles.
There are plenty of different game modes, load-outs and skins to give this game a very long life in your collection. Overall the game is a good experience that will appeal to fans and newcomers alike. If let down by a few flaws that can eventually be dealt with. Max Payne 3 serves as a more than acceptable retirement for a classic franchise.