PS3 Reviews: Max Payne 3 Review

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Max Payne 3 Review

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Graphics:

 

8.8

Gameplay:

 

9.2

Sound:

 

9.3

Control:

 

8.6

Replay Value:

 

8.5

Online Gameplay:

 

9.0

Overall Rating:       8.9

 

 

Publisher:

Rockstar

Developer:

Rockstar Vancouver

Number Of Players:

1-16

Genre:

Action

It’s brutal, unapologetic, visceral, and unsurprisingly addictive. Rockstar has managed to capture the very essence of Max Payne in the latest long-awaited installment, and it’s dark and a little depressing. But that’s exactly what the first two games were all about; Max Payne is a singular character, one you question and root for simultaneously. And at its core is a blend of ridiculous over-the-top action and a quality story that keeps you playing. Enjoy the Payne.

Although there’s some brightness and vividness I didn’t expect – Max Payne has never exactly exploded with a colorful palette – the gritty, authentic, bloody nature of the game shines through. The special effects take center stage as bullets rip through bodies with bloody splashes, eyes are shot out of heads, and bodies fly in an almost comical fashion. It’s gleeful sadistic fun, and the visual presentation goes a long way towards making it…uncomfortably enjoyable. The detail sometimes falters on a close-up inspection but that’s minor.

As usual, Rockstar excels in the sound category. The voice actors they hire for their excellent productions are often a step above, and the soundtrack is always varied and fitting, and it ultimately enhances every aspect of the experience. The balance is a tad off as the effects and music can drown out the sound of the voices during cut-scenes, but this is hardly a crippling drawback. When you combine the stellar audio with a graphical palette that emphasizes the hard-edged artistic style, you get a technical package that simply oozes attitude and appeal.

Max Payne, the grizzled, conflicted ex-cop, has decided to leave the city streets loaded with a torrent of painful memories. He takes a job working security detail for a big business so-and-so in Sao Paulo, Brazil, where the rich flaunt their good fortune before the unfortunate impoverished masses. Max isn’t too thrilled with his employers but hey, it’s a job. And during his downtime, he drowns away the images and voices that have tormented him for years; the dead wife and child and other failures just won’t recede into the steamy South American night.

Then, of course, all hell breaks loose when an unknown gang kidnaps the boss man’s wife, Fabiana. Max has to get her back but he finds the problem is more complex (surprise, surprise), so he continues to dig deeper into a violent and unpredictable criminal underworld. He does so with an almost despondent reluctance; one gets the feeling that he’s only braving the bullets so he doesn’t have to drown out those memories with booze. Besides, if he fails, the bullets will kill him faster. Yes, it’s an awfully dark picture Rockstar paints and it works.

The interesting part of this production is that there are no loading times. After tossing the 5.5GB onto your PS3 hard drive, you will experience a seamless adventure that moves between story cut-scenes and gameplay action with no breaks. This adds to the immersion and continually demands our attention; you just never know when it’ll be time to press some buttons. And when that time comes, you’ll start to realize that although this game is definitely Max Payne to its very core, your approach can’t be as cavalier as it was in the past.

Maybe Max is more vulnerable because he’s older this time around. I’m not really sure. But I know for a fact that staying out of cover for too long will inevitably result in death; a potentially spectacular death, but death nonetheless. You will have to utilize cover quite a bit, which is just a touch disheartening because I had expected something a little more empowering and freewheeling. But despite the fact that Max will still absorb a gazillion bullets throughout the course of another harrowing adventure, this game is more realistic than one might expect. The AI isn’t stupid at all; they’ll flank and they’re crack shots.

So making liberal use of cover and that patented bullet-time mechanic is essential. And of course, the latter element ushers in the backbone of the gameplay; the silly, gory fun of slo-mo carnage. You can either click R3 to simply enable the slowdown, or you can hit R2 and Max will dive and initialize the bullet-time simultaneously. This is that “shootdodge” skill that is incredibly cinematic and can, performed and timed correctly, be devastatingly effective. But this is also where we run into the first of a short list of issues that unfortunately have to be mentioned.

When you dive/dodge and you smack into an obstacle the camera can go absolutely goofy. Obviously, you should give yourself some room when attempting such a move, so it’s partly your fault. But at the same time, it’s too easy to get screwed up with this ability; I’ve been left staring at the floor or at Max’s back and unable to change the view. There are also a few small glitches and inconsistencies, and although the camera and control is – for the most part – plenty solid, both the shootdodge and fast action in a cramped area can cause problems.

Also, the difficulty can become horribly, controller-smashing frustrating later in the game. If this was a fighter or a flight sim, I’d blame a portion of my failure on myself, but this is a third-person shooter and I consider myself quite adept. The bottom line is that because your foes absolutely never miss and Max really is quite vulnerable, you will see that annoying albeit stylish death screen many, many times. Furthermore, there just aren’t enough Painkillers lying around even on Normal difficulty, and enemies with body armor and helmets don’t help matters.

The checkpoints are a little far apart, too. Lastly, strictly from a subjective standpoint, I’m not the biggest fan of the constant shifting and distortion during story scenes. I get the artistic element but it just gets disconcerting and even irritating after a while. Beyond that, there’s no doubt that this game is a blast; the campaign will take you at least 10 hours (more like 12 with all the deaths), and the story and characters are good. It’s well written, well acted, and nicely paced. You always want to keep pressing forward because both the gameplay and plot is top-notch.

The multiplayer is a big draw, too, believe it or not. You can unlock all sorts of skills and weapons; the abilities are called “bursts” and instead of the bullet-time meter in the campaign, you get the burst meter in multiplayer. This takes time to build up and you have to be strategic in determining how you spend what you’ve acquired. Get yourself a full meter and enjoy the absurdly destructive power of the grenade launcher, for instance. By the way, bullet-time is available as one of the bursts and if you’re wondering how it works, it basically slows down foes in your line of sight, rather than everyone on the battlefield.

You’ve got the basic modes like deathmatch and team deathmatch, but there are also additional like Gang Wars that will demand your attention. Gang Wars is great because the objectives are always changing; it’s a five-round match and with each round comes a new goal. This can involve placing bombs (one team tries to place ‘em while the other team defends), for example, and it’s always refreshing to get a new objective. Then there’s Payne Killer, which is akin to other survival-based modes you’ve played before, but it still manages to feel unique.

Max Payne 3 is a rip-roaring success on many levels. It relentlessly hammers at your emotions and nerves and keeps you perched on the edge of your seat. The borderline unfair difficulty towards the end of the campaign, noticeable issues with the shootdodge, and a couple minor glitches notwithstanding, this is one hell of an experience. I just wonder why I was never covered out there in that stadium…my buddy’s got a sniper rifle and he said he’d cover me. And yet, not a single shot was fired. …the hell was that about, Rockstar?

Oh, anyway, Max is back. And you gotta love his style.

The Good: Slick, seamless presentation. Great audio, especially in the effects and voiceover categories. Fantastic, relentless shoot-‘em-up action. Interesting story and characters. Top-quality production values. Multiplayer is fast, diverse, and rewarding.

The Bad: Minor sound balancing issue. Frustrating difficulty due to crackshot AI and questionable checkpoint placement. Some persisting control issues.

The Ugly: “Oh, it’s all disturbingly, gloriously ugly.”

5/16/2012 Ben Dutka

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Comments (46 posts)

Nickjcal
Wednesday, May 16, 2012 @ 9:22:51 PM
Reply

Loving this game so far. Stupid school is keeping me from playing it through. Rockstar is pretty cool with review copies though, got a T-Shirt and Bullet :p

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josiahlo
Wednesday, May 16, 2012 @ 9:30:36 PM
Reply

I picked this up for my ps3 instead of diablo 3 on tuesday because I knew of the issues that Diablo was going to have. I'm pleasantly surprised how fun this game is so far. I'm about 3-4 hours in and the variety is great. Sniper scenes, rail gun scenes. I love how it goes from cutscene to bullet time gameplay.

Also the artistic look during the cutscenes and the dialog appearing on the screen reminds me of "Man on Fire" loved that movie and personally love the style

Last edited by josiahlo on 5/16/2012 9:32:12 PM

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Nickjcal
Wednesday, May 16, 2012 @ 9:40:18 PM

The part where you're in the stadium, I jumped from the top of the stairs, over the seats and landed on the railing below. Killed every guy on the way down..memorable moment right there lol. Bullet time is awesome!

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LimitedVertigo
Thursday, May 17, 2012 @ 12:21:25 AM

I did the same thing. I'm waiting to get D3 next week at the earliest.

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Killa Tequilla
Wednesday, May 16, 2012 @ 9:31:08 PM
Reply

I was wondering where this review was! Ahhh Ben, wish you'd just given it that 0.1 for a solid 9/10. Ooh well... Im just waiting on UPS to give me my game... Hurry UPS!

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Wednesday, May 16, 2012 @ 11:02:14 PM

No, too much cheapness for the full 9, IMO.

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berserk
Thursday, May 17, 2012 @ 5:55:57 AM

How much of that cheapness is in the mp ..

The biggest reason i want that game , i hope that it s like in the trailer where it don t take long killing someone so it stay fast paced .

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Thursday, May 17, 2012 @ 9:58:10 AM

It's all in the single-player.

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Pandacastro
Wednesday, May 16, 2012 @ 10:11:37 PM
Reply

Waiting for MP2 to release on psn since I never play it before I get this one. Also some random guy ruin the ending for me :(.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Wednesday, May 16, 2012 @ 10:14:42 PM
Reply

Sounds awesome on all accounts except the constant action front.

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LimitedVertigo
Thursday, May 17, 2012 @ 12:23:05 AM

It's Max Payne....come on now.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Thursday, May 17, 2012 @ 1:38:38 PM

Max used to be just as much about atmosphere and narrative as action.

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LimitedVertigo
Thursday, May 17, 2012 @ 3:24:52 PM

...and Max Payne 3 is no different. It's dripping with atmosphere and has a great narrative.

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clockwyzebkny
Wednesday, May 16, 2012 @ 10:17:05 PM
Reply

Like a playable Collateral, Man on Fire and City of God. I love this game!! I beat it already and I'm on my 2nd playthrough

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Shams
Wednesday, May 16, 2012 @ 11:06:14 PM

Collateral is one of my personal favorite cops/robbers flicks. Right there with Heat. I love that shootout in the alley where Cruise's character takes out two guys at point blank range in less than a second.

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Shams
Wednesday, May 16, 2012 @ 11:11:16 PM
Reply

Thanks for the review, Ben. I was holding off on the purchase until I got your feedback on it since I'm not very familiar with the series...that and I'm busy with Prototype 2 at the moment, and debating whether I should play Starhawk or this one first. I figured if it were a D1P, your review would've been up yesterday. I have been itching for sky-high production values lately, though.

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ZenChichiri
Wednesday, May 16, 2012 @ 11:19:19 PM
Reply

I have a question. Is he a smartass in this one like he was in the first game? I know in the second game he became much more serious and I didn't like his character as much. His one liners in the first were awesome:

"So it turns out lady luck was a hooker, and I was fresh outta cash..."

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LimitedVertigo
Thursday, May 17, 2012 @ 12:22:42 AM

He has a ton of one liners in this game but he's extremely negative at the same time. He's a badass with a realistic view on his life and those around him. You'll enjoy the dialogue, it's well written.

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FAREEZ
Wednesday, May 16, 2012 @ 11:36:14 PM
Reply

love this game, the single player campaign is long , love the storyline in this game....

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LimitedVertigo
Thursday, May 17, 2012 @ 12:20:54 AM
Reply

I'm loving it so far. I'm currently playing on normal and while it's true you do end up dying a lot I'm surprised with how many checkpoints there are. I've seldom had to replay more than a few minutes worth of gameplay when dying. I loved the first two Max Payne games but hadn't played them in a while. I felt right at home within the first few minutes.

I also think it's a better game than Uncharted3.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Thursday, May 17, 2012 @ 12:30:29 AM

It really, really isn't.

And the checkpoints get further apart later.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Thursday, May 17, 2012 @ 12:31:13 AM

That's good to hear. Ben didn't mention if it still has that Noir overtone to it. Does it?

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LimitedVertigo
Thursday, May 17, 2012 @ 12:36:41 AM

Well I'm on the last section (there are 3 main ones) and I personally haven't minded the checkpoint system thus far, maybe I'm just really good :)


Oh ya, no more black and white scenes but it is dripping with style. The production value is incredible IMO.

Last edited by LimitedVertigo on 5/17/2012 12:37:07 AM

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AshT
Thursday, May 17, 2012 @ 2:59:46 AM

Havn't picked it up yet, was waiting for Ben's review.
better than Uncharted 3? really?? in what ways?

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LimitedVertigo
Thursday, May 17, 2012 @ 1:02:24 PM

I think the gameplay is better. I enjoyed the firefights more in MaxPayne than Uncharted3. I also preferred the story you're involved in more than the one given in Uncharted3. As epic and vast as Uncharted3's storyline (so many locations and characters) I preferred the grittier and realistic approach taken with what goes on in Max Payne.

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Cpt_Geez
Thursday, May 17, 2012 @ 12:37:41 AM
Reply

I'm enjoy Max Payne 3, currently grinding through ch 3. On a bad note my copy is having a trophie glitch i haven't got not one single trophie yet, anyone got any ideal how to fix my issue.

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LimitedVertigo
Thursday, May 17, 2012 @ 1:19:46 AM

Well you're not too far into the game. If you look at the trophies you'll see a majority of them require some time and effort. I don't believe I received a trophy till I completed the first main section of the game.

I'm not so sure you have a glitch, maybe just used to games that reward with an abundance of trophies.

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Cpt_Geez
Thursday, May 17, 2012 @ 8:35:04 AM

Oh okay I thought something was wrong with the game lol.

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Beamboom
Thursday, May 17, 2012 @ 2:13:28 AM
Reply

So it is *that* good, huh... Well, it's from Rockstar. I shouldn't be surprised.

Seems I need to make room in the budget for one more shooter this year then!


Last edited by Beamboom on 5/17/2012 2:14:03 AM

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Lairfan
Thursday, May 17, 2012 @ 4:53:41 PM

I hear its pretty linear, so I don't know if you'd like it as much as others.

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___________
Thursday, May 17, 2012 @ 6:16:39 AM
Reply

im really disappointed in this!
i mean yea maybe im being to hard, but come on this is max freaking payne i was expecting perfection!
R* have released such perfect games this gen i was really expecting more than this!
looks like my early skepticism was spot on.
:(
oh how i wish remedy stuck with this!

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WorldEndsWithMe
Thursday, May 17, 2012 @ 1:40:36 PM

Max was never a perfect game, but nobody is surprised you are upset.

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LimitedVertigo
Thursday, May 17, 2012 @ 3:26:04 PM

You're an idiot, honestly. You seldom actually base your opinions on games after actually playing them but rather based on what others say. How about you play the game.

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___________
Friday, May 18, 2012 @ 9:44:01 AM

im about half way through now and nothings changed.
not saying its a bad game, just that it does not live up to the hype and expectation left for it.
not that its surprising though.
why is it that almost every game that gets stuck in development hell ends up being pretty mediocre?

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CrusaderForever
Thursday, May 17, 2012 @ 7:42:36 AM
Reply

Glad everyone is enjoying MP3! Cannot wait to play it at some point soon. Just to much going on to buy it. Playing Starhawk MP, Resistance 3, LEGO Pirates need 3 trophies with my son. Also need the money for Resistance Burning Skies and Gravity Rush. MP3 looks fantastic and it's great to hear about the length, story and production values. Bullet time sounds as phenomenal as it was in the first 2 awesome games. They really need to get MP2 on PSN, would love to go through that again!

Last edited by CrusaderForever on 5/17/2012 7:44:14 AM

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matt99
Thursday, May 17, 2012 @ 8:26:08 AM
Reply

I was wondering the exact same thing about the stadium section. The guy didn't fire a single shot to cover me and then I had to cover him! He kept telling me to hurry up and shoot the guys and I was getting really ticked off at him.

Great game overall though.

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karneli lll
Thursday, May 17, 2012 @ 9:57:44 AM
Reply

No loading? I was actually surprised when i found out each video is a loading screen,kind of annoyed me at times. The multiplayer was crazy fun.

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LimitedVertigo
Thursday, May 17, 2012 @ 1:03:19 PM

Why would it annoy you to have a game load in the background while showing you a cutscene?

Last edited by LimitedVertigo on 5/17/2012 1:03:46 PM

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matt99
Thursday, May 17, 2012 @ 9:27:08 PM

Ya I thought that was pretty clever to hide the loading behind cut scenes.

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karneli lll
Thursday, May 17, 2012 @ 11:19:50 PM

Some cutscenes were boring for me and i was forced to watch them,cant even think of second playthrough. Also the loading is a bit much,every time Max approaches a door (the slow walking)

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LimitedVertigo
Thursday, May 17, 2012 @ 11:38:05 PM

Actually you can skip any cutscene by holding X.

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Happiness
Thursday, May 17, 2012 @ 10:49:30 AM
Reply

For some reason I'm glad it didn't get into the 9's because the 8.9 seems like a more honest score, that wasn't influenced by the hype or the fact of it being a Rockstar game.

I was really waiting for your review. Given it (the review) and the community's comments, I think I'm going to shell out the full price now, rather than wait eight months in the hopes of a $20 price drop.

Being dependent on painkillers myself, Max is rather close to my heart. In fact, I envy the dude. If only I could find Painkillers laying around my environs, like he does, I'd be one happy camper. As it is, I gotta dish out full price, which I'm gonna do to feed my Max Payne habit too.

LimitedVertigo, ("better game than Uncharted3") you're a heretic!

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LimitedVertigo
Thursday, May 17, 2012 @ 12:56:03 PM

Play Max Payne then decide for yourself.

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gray_eagle
Thursday, May 17, 2012 @ 7:46:04 PM
Reply

8.9?
ben, could'nt you find a .1 laying around somewhere to make it an even 9.0? ;)

great review, just waiting to get my hands on MP3 in a day or two.

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Xbox_Killer
Thursday, May 17, 2012 @ 8:24:20 PM
Reply

I didn't get the feeling that it was Max Payne. I got the feeling that it was a game trying to be Max Payne. I thought it was a good game, just not a Max Payne game.

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Happiness
Wednesday, June 27, 2012 @ 1:15:09 PM
Reply

Really liked the game. Yes it was different from the earlier versions. This game is not black&white, it had colour. I'm sure the others did have colour too, but they seem to me now as black&white.
Max as an older dude was great! I'm an older dude, so I could see myself in him - kind of like Sulley in Uncharted.
Yeah, took some getting used to the game play, but once that happened there was decent control, and the gun fights actually were fun. Yep, taking cover was essential, and in fact, if I really worked at using cover, staying focused, and tried to win the firefights (as opposed to just quickly blasting away) I could feel a positive sense of realistic engagement in the fights, ones where I could use my mind and trigger finger to actually succeed deliberately (and, of course, with ruthlessness supreme).
The Brazil location was cool, trendy, and different. And most things broke or shattered when bullets hit them - lots of detail like that is good (expected these days).
Not the best shooter ever, but hey, didn't really expect it to be. Its the character, and the atmosphere that makes the Max Payne games distinctive. Absolutely the dialogue was funny. Max is most definitely my favourite junky character in all of gaming. It was hilarious how Max makes up excuses for his dope habit every time I grabbed some more painkillers - some classic lines in there. In this game, the drugs weren't made up, but were the real thing: opiates to dull the pain, both physical and emotional. While willingly chowing down on the opiates like candy, how the heck did Max resist all that coke laying around? Just joking... coke is crap. I like Max all the more for just sticking to the opiates. Smart Guy there.
Bullettime and Shootdodge is fun. I just wish Max could have moved around the environments a bit more freely. Like climbed up to balconies, or somehow gone outside of guided paths a bit more. Don't get me wrong, lots of fairly open environments, but eventually some of the forward paths became highly restrictive.
I enjoyed it. Don't feel ripped off. Hey, that's ain't half bad. And not half bad is more than half good - right?

Last edited by Happiness on 6/27/2012 1:22:30 PM

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