Platforms - X360, PS3, PC
Genre - 3rd Person Shooter
Aust. Classification – MA15+
Publisher - Rockstar
Max Payne is a tortured and broken man, losing his family, addicted to pain killers and constantly looking to drown his sorrows through the bottom of a bottle. Now he seems ready to move on, a new job, a new city, a new life; assigned to protection detail for the rich in Brazil, but more specifically Rodrigo Branco. Eventually Max once again ends up alone and once again fighting for his life but this time in an unfamiliar city.
This is storytelling at its absolute best and although I don't normally like the run of the mill TV cop shows, if they made one as good as this I would quickly change my tune. It takes a few pages from brutal action movies while at the same time having its own originality and never travelling too far down the road of cliché, instead creating its own path through a Warzone of gangland crime. It is quite obvious from the start though that this is a more grounded, warts and all look at Max and I guess it is in keeping with everything games, comics, TV and movies becoming deeper, darker and grittier i.e. Batman, Bond, Walking Dead, Falling Skies etc.
A lot has changed since Max's last outing but I am pleased to say that Bullet time is back. This slow motion effect revolutionised slow motion while shooting and even though it has been refined it brings back instant nostalgia from when I first experienced it on the PS1. I felt in total control at all times with the combat being really intuitive and every control function including the one button cover system just works perfectly and flawlessly with stunts feeling effortless but satisfying. The controller ended up becoming like an extension of my subconscious allowing me to perform everything without thinking or remembering what button did what. The option to lock the aim hard, soft or remain free are options that I appreciate as I am not the quickest when it comes to aiming accurately from a distance and I found soft to be perfect for my playing style.
I think it's the attention to detail that make this game both visually and practically perfect, with Max's reactions and actions portrayed just as you would expect it to happen in reality, minus Bullet Time. He jumps sideways in slow motion and lands on his side all while shooting without any pause or slight delay, awaiting your command to get up on his feet again. Everything feels weighty and balanced, even though it is hyper reality, the physics felt just right for maximum enjoyment while remaining in the action film like theme. Kind of like what Daniel Craig did with Bond but with added bullet time.
It offers amazing visuals and motion capture both in gameplay and cutscenes alike. The cinematic moments blur in and out of focus, blending seamlessly with the gameplay to emphasise the constant state of drunkenness and inebriation that has become Max's life. Words are then used on screen to punctuate important points in the conversation, giving it an almost graphic novel approach. I did find the constant blurring a bit annoying after a few hours of play, but perhaps it was blurring more than it should have considering I hadnt a break after 3 hours of constant play. As a testament to the game I do confess to falling asleep out of pure exhaustion, controller in hand, my bad... can't help it, must keep playing.
The audio soundscape is just so fitting in every second of the game, subtly adding to the experience without ever becoming over dominant. Max's constant narration and commentary add a Film Noir touch allowing for helpful hints to be added at times of trouble or not knowing what to do next, something that was very intelligently executed to do away with a need to add highlights to objects or an objection pointer.
Online is made up of mainly Deathmatch's, which I am not very fond of. I don't like playing solo and I can never seem to find a group who I could rely on all that much. Ironically one of the only other games I felt more comfortable playing this mode in was Red Dead Redemption. Still, I found playing with friends was a better experience, ganging up with a group of them, forming a Crew and then going around taking out other Crews was much more fun, kind of like a Posse of sorts, earning extra XP as a reward. It was made more enjoyable because the developers catered for gamers like me by adding completely separate modes for Soft Lock and Free Lock Aim controls and it is an excellent way to lure those of us who suck at quick aiming into giving Online a go. Also having Rookie Deathmatch opens up the field of players even further and makes even a Deathmatch hater like me want to give it a try and I must say it was pretty cool.
This game does for shooters what Red Dead Redemption did for Western games. Taking itself deadly serious the gameplay and storytelling make sure you do too. It is brutal, violent, bloody, gritty and I believed every moment. I honestly felt like it was a privilege being able to interact with Max's world for the time spent playing this game. Thank you Rockstar and thank you Max Payne, I look forward to seeing you again soon.
For the final score and more, go to Maceman Reviews