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Game review: Max Payne 3

31 May 12
Max is a drunk, and everything he touches turns to shit. Lamenting the death of his family, he finds solace at the bottom of a glass. He is the embodiment of every anti-hero ever. Now his life is filled with bad guys, booze and bullets.
 
So begins Max Payne 3, the latest addition in the Rockstar Games franchise that dates back over 10 years.
 
The screen blurs from time to time as Max’s brain swims with the effects of the demon drink. It causes him to question his actions. His narrative is constantly asking why. Why is he in this situation, and why is he still going ahead.
 
New Jersey wasn’t kind to Max; it’s where he lost his family to drug dealers. Brazil isn’t treating him much better. Caught in a world of millionaires, drug parties, and nightclubs with helipads, Max is out of depth, and sinking.
 
The gameplay in this title is cinematic in the best way. It’s the kind of game that pulls you into it like a movie, when suddenly you realise that you are supposed to be controlling the character; thankfully, only a few of the scenes are of the interactive "press A now” variety.
 
The narrative switches back into flash backs from time to time, showing Max’s progression from washed up cop drinking in a bar, to drunk ex-bodyguard destroying large parts of the Sao Paulo favela. These breaks make the game feel more continuous despite Max’s changes in appearance, the slow expansion of his world illuminating his actions early in the game.
 
The visuals and sound in the game are pretty amazing, and the bad guys never feel like the same four or five dudes running at you over and over. You will never go ‘oh there’s that guy in the red hoodie again’, though (as with all games like this) you may wonder where the criminal ringleaders find so much cannon fodder. Targeting can also get annoying if you have it on ‘sticky’ mode, as it defaults to chest shots and the stronger enemies use body armour which means they tend to get back up.
 
The incredibly detailed locations can make picking enemies out a hard task, but that’s part of the fun – as is the fact that the sets are destructible. Hide behind a pillar too long and there might not be much of a pillar left. Also, the bad guys will try to flank you, though knowing this can actually improve your chances of making a kill. Set pieces also never feel repetitious.
 
On the downside, the multiplayer aspects seem to be more about trying things out for GTA V than making a long-lasting online experience. The chance to make a ‘gang’, though, is something you should definitely try with friends.
 
Throughout this game, Max goes from Ray Liotta to Bryan Cranston, most of the time drunk and making some very poor decisions. Sometimes his choices will make you shake your head. Sometimes the levels will annoy you. Sometimes you’ll wonder why he bought that awful shirt with the parrots on it. But goddamn, it’s a hell of ride!
 
Graphics: 9
Sound: 9
Gameplay: 8.5
Lasting appeal: 6
Overall: 8
 
Played on XBox 360.
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