Max Payne 3 Review
I’m torn on Max Payne 3 — on the one hand, playing it was very fun while it lasted. On the other hand, it was a forgettable experience that would have been better suited to joining the third-person shooter conversation much sooner during the nine years that has elapsed since the release of Max Payne 2.
While Rockstar has done a pretty wonderful job of remaining true to the mechanics of Max Payne and modernizing the run-and-gun formula that made the originals so much fun, the unfortunate fact is that while Rockstar has given Max the ability to hide under cover, it hasn’t given him much else. With more innovative third-person shooters out there, Max Payne 3 remains a fun but somewhat unnecessary addition to the field, and it seems doubtful it’ll make much of a lasting impression, multiplayer mode or no.
Max Payne 3 (2012): Xbox 360 (reviewed), Playstation 3, PC
Developer: Rockstar Games
Publisher: Rockstar Games
Released: May 15, 2012
Last time on Max Payne, Max Payne was a broken man who’d lost everything he ever loved or cared about. Years later, at the start of Max Payne 3, his life has taken a bit of a turn. Dependent on pain killers (guess you should have tried to get shot less in the first two games), perpetually hazy with drink, and rife with guilt, he’s been recruited to work personal security for a rich family in Sao Paolo, Brazil. Mostly, he babysits the self-indulgent brother and the hot airhead wife of the family’s patriarch. Mostly, he just gets drunk and watches them spend money.
But then a video game has to happen, and a plot is kicked into motion to kidnap members of the family of Max’s employers, the Brancos. The game opens with Max running through the Brancos’ mansion, gunning down kidnappers as they storm a party. Things bubble out from there, sometimes in interesting ways, sometimes not so much. All the while, the character of Max Payne is the reason to play — he’s grizzled and hardened, but also an extremely broken man. Max’s constant noir-style narration gives you an inside look into his psyche at every turn, and he’s very much a conception of John McClane if Hans Gruber had shot McClane’s whole family in the head during the course of Die Hard. Max is the best part of the game.
So, too, is the presentation of Max Payne 3, for the most part. Returning to voice the titular character is James McCaffrey, who has improved greatly since Max Payne 2 as a voice actor. He still delivers a few lines with a little too much disdain and disgust, and it’s still a bit hammy at times; but mostly, and especially in cutscenes, McCaffrey’s performances are great and help keep Max’s story (but not so much the greater plot of the game) real and immediate.