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
MSRP: $59.99

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.

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11 Comments on Max Payne 3 Review

Austin

On May 21, 2012 at 6:46 pm

This review may be rather fair, but this is still one of the best games I’ve played all year.

Phil Hornshaw

On May 21, 2012 at 6:51 pm

@Austin

I must say I enjoyed playing it. It’s just hard to recommend at $60.

Swcloud

On May 21, 2012 at 7:30 pm

Good and FAIR review.
My only gripe with it is that you seem to fail to mention the complete lack of loading screens keeping the game constantly going without ever giving you a moment to pause.

Mr Glassback

On May 22, 2012 at 6:45 am

I thought the story and game were excellent on first playthrough and the opportunity for re playability is there with all the clues and golden gun parts, but the cut scenes are a pain in the arse. Only on second playthrough did I realise how many there are and how many of them cant be skipped.
Rockstar are the masters of DLC though so I won’t be getting rid quite yet.

JawaEsteban

On May 22, 2012 at 2:13 pm

Thanks for an honest and fair review, Phil. I’m going to buy MP3, but I think I’ll be waiting until it’s priced a lot lower than $60. Steam sale six months from now, or something similar. Good read.

Jwiggs

On May 26, 2012 at 2:03 pm

Whoever wrote this review is a retard, this game is amazing. The story is awesome, the fluid movements are uncanny, and the bullet time cam scenes are unforgiving. This game is brutal, they did an amazing job with the gore factor. Multiplayer has alot going for it as well (ROCKSTAR IS THE FIRST TO USE SLOWMO IN A LIVE GAME WITHOUT ANY ISSUES). If youre a fan of shootouts, a great story, and gore pick this game up.

PTTREAN

On May 30, 2012 at 1:01 am

I am enjoying the multiplayer a lot. It is more than passable. If you give it time and get used to the pace of it, it can be extremely addicting and tons of fun.

dogsoutside

On June 15, 2012 at 6:20 am

you people that complain about the price of a game make me laugh. You’d go out and drink at a bar for $100 plus, and not think anything of it. Stop complaining and grow up.

ThePrion

On June 15, 2012 at 8:02 pm

I completely agree with the review. As I was playing the game it felt forgettable in the first hour already. Rockstar’s touch doesn’t feel right to Max Payne, it’s just not his style wave the big guns and trigger such big explosions all around, it felt like I was playing John Woo’s Stranglehold all over again, repetitive all the way. It is well polished and technically great but lacks the finesse and even as said the weirdness of the previous titles that built up such a classic atmosphere. The story is anything but great, the conspiracy presented is ridiculous and surely convoluted, and being a brazilian myself I could only laugh at such naive depiction. Despite all the high hopes I had for the game, I can’t see it standing as a worthy and remarkable sequence for the series.

Tiagonal

On June 21, 2012 at 12:08 pm

I couldn’t keep off thinking about GTAV playing Max Payne 3.. The first was Max Payne was epic.. but now it’s a rockstar :(

Phil Hornshaw

On June 25, 2012 at 8:30 am

@dogsoutside

I’m failing to see the point of your comparison. What does a bar tab have to do with video game value?