Before we delve into the analysis of Max Payne 3, it would be important to understand that both Max Payne and its sequel were products of Remedy Entertainment. Remedy then sold the rights over to Rockstar Vancouver and continued on with Alan Wake. No one would have expected a company like Rockstar to serve another episode in the series, since it was never really thought to be associated with the arcade type action that was Max Payne. But it has definitely proved all critics wrong by successfully revamping a nine-year old franchise in style.The Story So Far
A re-imagination of the classic franchise that enslaved millions, dragged us in to the frost ridden depths of New York City and the heart of the protagonist, the name Max Payne is well known in both hardcore and casual gamer circles. With its breakthroughs in graphic detailing, Max Payne was an early millennia marvel. The most engrossing part was the storyline and its narration by Max himself. The monologues were enough to blow you away.
Full of self-reflection and moral questions, the plot of Max Payne explored the mystery behind Valkyr, the mysterious drug that was taking lives throughout the city. It also mapped the deep recesses of Max's mind as he attempted to come to grips with the death of his wife and daughter, presumably by Valkyr infected humans. Framed for a murder he did not commit, the NYPD detective was hunted because by his own, found an unwilling ally in Mona Sax, a contract killer.
The struggle of the first two games was the clearing of his name and the answer to questions relating to the death of his family. The ending of Max Payne 2 was characteristic of the trail of destruction Max leaves on his way to absolution, with Mona dying in his arms, the only other person he cared about. At the end, he was again alone, lost, ready to be swallowed up by the city he wanted to escape, but continued to serve.
The current installment is set 9 years after the events of Max Payne 2. After retiring from his job and relocating to New Jersey, Max is now without a distraction to uncover hidden plots. He is even more haunted by the tragic events of the night many years ago that started the downward spiral that is the Max Payne series.
The new Max Payne sports a beard and is addicted to alcohol and painkillers. Early on in the game, Max gets into a confrontation at a bar with Anthony DeMarco Jr., the son of a local mob boss, and Raul Passos interjects, hoping to recruit Max for a private security job in South America. Max initially resists, but when he becomes a target for mob hitmen after killing Anthony Jr. in a bar fight, he agrees to accompany Passos to Sao Paulo in Brazil. When gangs in Sao Paulo target the family under his protection, Max is forced to fight to save his clients and again clear his own name, in a bid to, once and for all, rid himself of the demons that have tortured him for far too long.Gameplay
- Expectations had been riding high about the current release since it had been 9 years since the previous versions which were both cinematic masterpieces of their time. The newest edition didn't fail to impress. The environment is much more real and has GTA-like graphics. No longer will the player feel that the surroundings are set in stone and Max can interact better with his environs. The raindrops, sunlight and glowing lights are all distinct and sharp. Heavily accented by cinematics, gameplay is fluid and logical - although some sections that initially seem to require a stealth approach turn into a bloodbath within seconds. But the gameplay experience set in high detail is pleasing to the eye.Max's Monologues
- The tour de force of the game, Max's monologues are the high point for most players. They are self-introspective, yet existentialist at the same time. Encompassing a variety of issues ranging from his burdened heart to the filth that lies at the underbelly of New York, Max's monologues have been the mainstay of this franchise. Voiced by James McCaffrey, the player feels the horror and fear seeping out of the speakers and settling into the surrounding space, real enough to feel. The snowflakes of New York and the blistering heat of Sao Paulo are further made real by his unusual analogies.Bullet Time
- Reminiscent of the previous editions, Max Payne 3 features an in-game time-slowdown mode which enables Max to aim and fire at multiple enemies at normal speed while the environment around him is slowing down. The player can hear the heartbeat of Max as he shoots at the villains. Bullet time is finite, but the bar refills when you kill someone while using it. A new feature called Adrenaline, allows Max in his dying moments to engage in bullet time which, if successful, increases his health partially as well as his bullet time.Shoot dodge
- The matrix-style slow motion jumping and firing simultaneously is back. Probably the most beloved feature of the franchise, it utilizes the bullet-time concept by allowing Max to engage in a dive depending on which direction it is intended. Max can take out enemies in a state of free fall. Previously left to the player's discretion, Max Payne 3 forces the player at times to engage in Shoot dodge by narrating the story till a point and then starting off with Max in free fall. The overall inclusion of the new graphics makes it one of the biggest strengths of this game.Painkillers
- Consuming Painkillers is the only way Max can regain health in the game and this revolutionary concept was introduced in the first edition of the game and leads one to expect the same from the third installment. It does not disappoint. Though players are made aware that Max has become addicted to painkillers in the storyline, they are still the only way to restore his health in gameplay.
Usually found in cabinets, bathrooms and unused rooms, the availability of painkillers in Max Payne 3 is rare as compared to its predecessors, when comparing all in medium level gameplay. In the earlier editions, the player usually stops and searches the level for painkillers after a big fight scene. But Rockstar seems to encourage dynamic gameplay with less time for contemplation, occasionally using Max's monologues as a reminder to forge ahead.Realistic
- The advantages of escaping action aren't a permanent solution. Villains will outflank you while you hide behind a given object and will eventually kill you if you take too long to decide or try to wait it out. Your cover can also be destroyed, but while you're taking fire, you accumulate bullet time. Features such as shoot dodge and bullet time are not realistic per se but are accepted by players as part of the game's physics. The realism extended to the number of weapons Max can now carry.Weapons
- The weapons cache to carry at a time is much smaller now. The previous games allowed one to carry an arsenal of weapons which never showed on Max's body or his hands except for the one he was currently using. The current version has wheel of weapons and a player can carry not more than four at a time. If the player desires to acquire another one apart from the current four, one of the four must be dropped in order to acquire a new one. Though not appealing to fans of the earlier editions, it does lend a degree of authenticity to the game that was absent in the previous versions.
The player has to search for guns and they run out of ammunition fast unless the villains' dead bodies are not walked around. There are new gold collectible guns which can be picked up. A big disappointment in the single player campaign is the lack of the Molotov cocktail, which was a firm favourite for senseless destruction centering on a previous ordered campaign. The new red dot sniper is a pleasant surprise. It is quite similar to the Call of Duty scoped vision and is a fun tool while eliminating enemies.Violence
- There is a reason that the rating of the game is PEGI 18. The abuses flow freely by Max as well as other characters. The M sign indicates blood and gore, intense violence, partial nudity, strong language, sexual content and use of drugs and alcohol. There has been no attempt to tone down the level of blood and with newer graphics coming into play, the gore is more in-your-face than before. The brilliant slow-motion last kill in a gang fight involves Max's bullet travelling slowly and entering the gang member's respective body part, slaying him. Max's own death scenes, if he is incapable of eliminating threats are a three screen violent and bloody affair, before you see "dead" written on screen and retry. Killing in general is extremely fast and so is movement. One scarcely notices when the 500 kills achievement sign shows at the bottom of the screen.
The comic book style dialogues of the previous two editions have been replaced by live in-game dialogues. Key words from conversations are thrown on the screen as we attempt to assemble the maze of information given to us. The examination of Clues is also a new feature in the game. This is probably what leads to a large setup size of the game, being about 28 GB for the PC.Multiplayer
Multiplayer in Max Payne 3 has options for Playlists, Private Match and LAN. The Molotov cocktail is used here along with other weapons. Cheaters are made to play with themselves only. The Social Club account can be carried over to GTA V.Verdict
Despite the overall glossy improvements and attempts to stay faithful to the series, the plot seems to fail in some parts. To the newbie, it doesn't seem to cohesively knit the sequence of events together seamlessly enough. But when compared to the previous editions, it is a story of a mature Max, not the hotshot who only saw red.
This edition is a continuation of the legacy of Payne, building on it and expanding it beyond the confines of the icy New York. There are a few digressions from the main plot which do not seem to do much for the story. That being said, the plot is not weak by any standard. Max's disturbed personality and sense of duty continues to propel the game forward.
The game is faithful to the epic heritage of this series and has already amassed large sales and positive reviews from players as well as critics. It might not be the most detailed game by Rockstar, but easily one of its best.
If you have played the earlier versions, this game is a must for you. And if you are hearing about it for the first time, this franchise is definitely something you need to explore. This game has been reviewed in the PC version and PS3 and Xbox 360 graphics would no doubt be better.Price
PS3: Rs. 2,499
Xbox 360: Rs. 2,499Ratings (Out of 5)