Game Review: Max Payne 3

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Max Payne 3 is a third person shooter released by Rockstar in 2012 and the third installment, obviously, in the Max Payne franchise. While departing a bit from the mood and atmosphere of the first two games, it features an advanced animation system and the classic trademark bullet time mode. This is my quick review.

Gameplay

Most of the gameplay from the first two games is back. Levels are linear as they used to be and the mechanics are the same. Two minor modifications: you can only carry two handguns and one double-handed gun at most, and there’s a cover system that wasn’t present before.

The game is short, as were the first two games, but it’s supposed to be highly replayable in harder difficulty settings and the special New York Minute mode. On top of that, the game offers you the opportunity to search for special clues and golden gun parts during the levels and, while it doesn’t have a quick saving system it has a checkpoint system and the game allows you to start any level from any of its checkpoints from the main menu.

I really don’t understand why many games don’t have a quick saving system on top of an automatic checkpoint mode, but fortunately nowadays you can in most cases pause the game, switch to the desktop and suspend your computer, as I mentioned sometimes. I will continue to take Half Life 2 as the example to follow in this regard, with multiple quicksaves and a history of saved games sorted by time.

Back to May Payne 3, I said supposed replayability because Rockstar made a few severe and obvious mistakes in this regard. The game features lots and lots of scripted and cinematic sequences, some of them more than five minutes long. You can’t quit the game, not even to the main menu, while in some of those sequences, and you can’t skip them. When you’re replaying part of a level to get an achievement or find a special clue or golden gun part you left behind, and reach one of those points without having found what you were looking for, the wait is exasperating. This happened to me while trying to get the achievement of killing every enemy while in the bus ride. Just at the end of the ride, where you see if you got the achievement or not (sometimes it’s not clear if you completely killed an enemy because they may fall to the ground without dying), there is a one-minute long cutscene that you can’t skip. It took me 5 full attempts to get the achievement, so I had to go through 4 minutes of cutscenes total. Having to repeat the scene is fine and not a problem at all. After all, you’re playing the game and shooting enemies, but the cutscene is really annoying. This is the most obvious mistake, but there are a few minor ones. For example, you can load any level from any checkpoint but other than the checkpoint number you don’t have much of a clue of where the checkpoint will leave you without loading it.

Controls are fine, on the other hand, and the story is fine too. Some people have complained that the free aim mode is too hard but I suppose they’re not used to other Max Payne games and the shooting mechanics may be a bit tougher using a gamepad. I played with my mouse as in the first and second games and, while I have to repeat a couple of scenes too many times for my taste, the rest of the game is not hard, in my humble opinion. It’s probably much tougher in upper difficulty levels but I haven’t accepted that challenge yet.

Technical aspects

The game has been praised a lot for its animation system and I can tell you it’s the best aspect of the game. Apart from that, it uses the RAGE engine that powers GTA4 among others. I find the graphics in those games poor for two reasons, but I don’t know if the engine is to blame for them. First, colors in both Max Payne 3 and GTA4 are many times dull and plain, with the game lacking the texture quality seen in other titles.

Second, the jagged and flickering shadows that can be seen all the time (and it seems I’m not alone) combined with poor performance for what the game has to offer, this time in a closed game world. It heavily contrasts with the performance and level of detail seen in other games. It may be a PC port problem. Who knows.

Also, somewhat inexplicably, the game weights 30 GB. After having played it, I can honestly say I have no idea why.

The game forces you to register in yet-another-social-network called Rockstar Social Club to play, even in single player. It’s not the first modern game I’ve seen doing that and I must confess I find it really annoying. It offers me zero value while making me lose another 5 or 10 minutes when starting the game for the first time. Steam, GFWL, UPlay, Origin and now Rockstar Social Club. Great.

Conclusion

I’m going to be a bit more critic with this game than others and it’s a shame because it’s a game that, with a few simple changes, could easily be an 8.5 or 9, but I can’t let those mistakes pass.

  • Gameplay: 7.

  • Technical: 7.

  • Overall: you guessed right, 7.

The game is fine but didn’t leave me as satisfied as others, so a 7 should do.

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