Sunday, June 17, 2012

Max White III

Max Payne 3
Version Reviewed: X360

Max Payne 3 is a sequel that has been overdue for years now. I'm glad to say though, that the wait for this game has been worth it.

Now, it's worth taking note that I did not read anything about this game prior to it's release..
In fact, I hit the midnight opening on a whim. Rockstar games however has earned my trust as a consumer though, and there is something fun about knowing nothing before going into a game.

This feeling is intensified when the game turns out to be as fantastic as this game is.

First off, I want to kill the initial impressions that threw me off about this game prior to it's release. Max isn't bald throughout this whole game. In fact it's only the last level or two. None the less, I found it amusing to play as a bald Max, but mostly due to his resemblance to a certain chemistry teacher, Mr. White.

For those of us who have played and have fond memories of the first 2 games, (Personally playing Max Payne on PC with the various mods still remains one of my top 5 game experiences.) There is a slight adjustment period. This is to be expected though, for various reasons, not least of which being that so much time has passed since Max Payne 2 hit the scene.

Where the first 2 games would have opened with a noire-esque monologue about the dirty city for which Max Payne games are accustomed, we are treated with colorful and glitzy images of the, seemingly, classy lifestyle Max is now in. As to be expected though, there is much more to the brazilian town that most of the game takes place in. (There are a few flashback sequences, some of which take place in New Jersey with Max looking like his old self)

This new setting is perfectly complimented by the many screen effects we see. When you take your painkillers there is a screen shake that distorts your view, reminding us always that Max has a pill problem, he's not just taking a med-kit. The gameplay effects are beautiful, but where I feel the artistic style of the game really shines is in it's transitions and how it presents the "cutscenes". Every video in this game is done IN-Game, and it goes straight from gameplay to video without loading at all. It provides a very immersive experience, which plays perfectly into how the cutscnes will throw a border around an image presenting a very comic-book esque style. This is a vast and amazing improvement over the old style which essentially was a comic with voices.

With such a beautiful style of presentation, it was a joy to sit through the movies, not a burden. Which made my time with the actual gameplay even more memorable.

I will say now that Third-Person shooters are one of my very favorite genres, I feel they have been sadly neglected over the last genre. Max Payne is a refreshing take on this genre, simply because it does everything so well.

The most important thing I think in presenting a third-person shooter is how your character, and to a lesser degree, the NPCs move. Animations are key, and if you have ever played "Enter The Matrix" you will know exactly what I am talking about.

When you finish an amazing bullet-time dive, and are on the ground you can now fire from a prone position (This can also be done on command) But when you stand up you really feel like your character has a weight to his movements. The engine they are using to pump the character physhics out performs amazingly on a consistent basis. Jumping into a wall will cause Max to fall and have to reposition himself to get up or fire his weapon.

Ragdoll physics in this game are amazing as well. It seems like they took care to restrict bodies from moving in unnatural ways once they are killed. A mix of ragdoll/character animations couple to create a realistic way in which a dying person would fall. This accompanied with the realistic gore, which will show the bullet hole and exit wound with a hefty amount of bloodspray, is an incredible sight when you are treated to the bullet-cam. This is a slow motion camera that follows your final shot from your barrel all the way to your target. They didn't stop there though, as these scenes are interactive. You can pull the L trigger to slow them down more, and once your bullet as hit your victim you can continue to fire your weapon. This made for amazing fun.

The interactive scenes don't stop there however, when you melee/disarm an opponent there is a moment of slow-motion and you are allowed to pull the trigger for a finishing move. This happens in a few cutscenes as well, which will earn you an achievement or two if you know when to fire (or not).

Despite the fantastic story mode, which kept me enthralled from start to finish, Max Payne 3 has a few more modes up it's sleeve. All of which are a blast to play.

The first of these modes is arcade mode. You are timed or scored depending on which mode you choose. New York Minute is a fun version in which killing enemies will grant you time. So in addition to not being shot to death you have to kill everyone else quickly or with great style. A nice peak to this mode? You get to choose what Max looks like from every model of him in the game. There is even a bonus model of Max from the first game, from his horrid choice in tie to his goofy looking smirk. I got a good laugh seeing the cutscenes with that face.

The second mode is multi-player.

Now I'm not a big fan of competitive multi-player, though I see why so many people love playing it. None-the-less this is a game where I enjoyed logging into the servers. You are allowed to customize your character's look, loadouts, and "perks" if you will. Fans of Rockstars growing Social Club will be pleased to know that they have integrated a system called "crews" into the game. This allows you to pair up with a large group of individuals and compete on a stats-based level. Even better? The word is that these crews will carry over somehow into GTA V.

All in all... Max Payne 3 was the best spontaneous 60$ purchase I have made in a long time. I enjoyed every second of my time with this game. The presentation was amazing, the gameplay was smooth as butter (every game has an occasional glitch, but NONE of mention in my playthrough) and best of all it was just flat out fun.

Not many games make me yell out in joy.


Game Over:
Final Score: 10 out of 10

"Perfect, in every way."