Max Payne 3 vs Diablo 3 – Which gets your $60?

Factor 2: Genre and Narrative

What kind of narrative experience are you, the discerning gamer, looking for? Are you the kind of person who gobbles up serialized literature like the Executioner Series? Do you read Edward Gibbon when you’re trying to relax? Your answer could very well indicate the game you need to buy, because you’re signing up for two very different games and atmospheres when choosing between Diablo 3 and Max Payne 3.

Now, if you’re like me and you think The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire is one of the most enjoyable reads evarz1, Diablo 3 is going to scratch a lot of very, very dorky itches you might have. No really, check out our exhaustive lore and story guide. The Diablo series is a complex, millennia-long epic tale of a world created by gods and demons who consider human beings their playthings.

Sure, Blizzard’s dark fantasy is about angels, demons, and stabbing them, but while it’s action packed, it definitely isn’t action. You’ll troll through dark dungeons (and even darker message boards), blast enemies with magic, search for swords and loot treasure chests, and concentrate on developing your skills of magic and melee combat. When you come across asses, medieval is what you’re going to get on them.

If you want to understand even half of where Blizzard was coming from when they dreamed this thing up, essential reading includes: Hesiod’s Theogony; The Trojan War Poetic Cycle; The Holy Bible (particularly the bits where God and the Antichrist really mix shizz up at the end). And that’s just the obvious stuff. I’m sure Leonard Boyarsky has a dogeared collection of Gnostic Gospels on his desk at Blizzard HQ. Simply put, when you dig into Diablo 3, you’re not experiencing the culmination of a personal journey, you’re actually fighting a war against ultimate evil in which the stakes are the whole damned universe.

Max Payne 3 is an altogether different kind of game. The series’ roots are firmly in the film noir tradition, mated for life to only the finest action movie cliches. It began as a tale of dirty cops and urban crime, only to graduate into the junior ranks of conspiracy theory tales with Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne. For part 3, the series has taken the next evolutionary step, morphing into a roaring rampage of revenge in the land of Only Beautiful Women, AKA Brazil. Max is older, thicker, balder, addicted to painkillers and, assuming that the tropical setting is milked for everything it has, sweatier too.

And the game itself? About as far from Diablo 3′s hack-and-slash roguelike RPG as it’s possible to get. As always, Max Payne 3 is a run-and-gun shooter in the vein of a John Woo action movie. Forget strategic use of spellcraft, class abilities and allies, it’s about seeing all the bullets rip your enemy apart in slo-motherf*cking-motion. The only looting you’ll have to mess around with comes in the form of kicking over bodies to pull ammo off them.

And this time around, it’s been Rockstar Gamesified too, which means you can definitely expect an equal measure of gritty, bleak, and morally abiguous. And more importantly, the crucial difference between Max Payne 3 and Diablo 3 is story: Where Diablo 3 asks you to look at the big picture, your characters mere pawns in the hands of forces far greater than they could ever imagine (including, it’s worth mentioning, the player him or herself), Max Payne is personal, visceral, immediate. It is the climax to the story of a single man, driven to ever lower personal and professional depths. Forget the weight of the world, he’s just trying to survive and figure his life out, and the player will experience that process every step of the way. It’s like Fast Five meets Robert Crais during a hookers and blow-filled robbery-homicide trip to Fantasy Island. Basically, it’s the thinking man’s murder-spree.

There’s not really one that’s superior to the other in this case. You just need to ask yourself: Would you rather watch The Lord of the Rings as directed by Fellini, or The Maltese Falcon (if Bogart shot nearly every person he encounters)? Let the coolness of those two things playing out in your mind be your guide.

1) It is. Seriously. It’s also epic, Enlightenment-era trolling, and you’ll love it, I promise

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3 Comments on Max Payne 3 vs Diablo 3 – Which gets your $60?


On May 14, 2012 at 6:27 pm

Since I pre-ordered Diablo 3, Diablo 3 gets my vote.

Jeff Mills

On May 14, 2012 at 7:08 pm

Diablo 3 now then Max Payne 3 after my next paycheck


On May 15, 2012 at 10:58 am

I have zero interest in Diablo III and Max Payne 3 I plan to get on the PC so I have to wait 2 more weeks