Before I wrote this review I had actually completed the game twice! That may not seem like a lot, but the second time took me only about six hours, this game is incredibly short. Not to mention half of the game are cut scenes! No, I’m not joking, seriously, if you were to turn this game into a movie there wouldn’t be much work to do. All of the scenes are already laid out and the actual gameplay, the gun fights actually sometimes feel like an interlude for the next scene. This game feels more like an interactive movie than a game and I almost got frustrated at Rockstar for making an “ungame”.
As far as the actual game play goes though, it’s really quite good. There are plenty of weapons for you to shoot in slow motion bullet time and each one is satisfying to use. If you have the cross hair set to “white dot” though, be prepared to squint a lot. I recommend setting that option to “weapon specific” because, I don’t know, maybe it was because I played the game on 1920×1080 but a tiny white dot is really hard to see, especially on graphics this amazing. This time, bullet time is recharged over time as opposed to getting kills for it and new to Max Payne series is the ability to hide behind cover, which is incredibly useful. Beware of the slow motion dive though – if you decide to do a shoot dodge and if that means you’ll end up flying over a railing and into a canal, or off the edge of a building, it’ll actually make you fall off. Basically my advice is, literally look before you leap. Max can also sprint, but quite frankly I don’t think it adds any speed and is probably the most useless sprint feature I’ve ever seen, I wouldn’t bother using it.
Payne is also limited in the number of weapons he can carry. He can use two one handed guns at the same time, but he’ll have to drop any two handed guns he is carrying. He can also holster one of the one handed weapons and use only one, but also carry around a two handed weapon. Basically the most you can carry is two one handed weapons and one two handed weapon. This changes the game play as it makes it more realistic (because you know, the crazy stunts that Max pulls off is what someone would do in real life) and it has you searching for ammo all the time. Ammo is not exactly hard to come by, but you won’t have bags of it either. In fact, before you move on to the next room it’s best to search for a weapon with the most ammo and refill before moving on to the next room. Which will most likely start off with a cut scene, where sometimes Max pulls out one of the one handed weapons you are carrying. If you previously were using a two handed weapon like an AK, and in the cut scene Max pulls out a Desert Eagle, for instance, you’ll start that next section of the level with that weapon pulled out. So make sure you have ammo for it, or remember to switch back to your two handed weapon. This can sometimes be a real pain (sorry).
The cut scenes themselves are incredibly long too. Luckily the game auto saves at the right moments so if you die, you won’t have to watch it all over again. But to prevent yourself from dying, you take pain killers, just like in the previous games. The main reason for you dying would probably be because an enemy decides to walk up to where you are hiding behind cover and attempting to shoot you. Enemies stay behind cover a lot and take pot shots at you, but they also move around, forcing you to also move around and move from cover to cover. Enemies also throw grenades, which I didn’t actually find any in the singleplayer, only the multiplayer had grenades.
The multiplayer also isn’t as bad as I thought it would be. It’s like the third person equivalent of Modern Warfare, complete with XP, achievements and customizable loadouts, kits and appearance. All of which can be unlocked through playing the multiplayer and the singleplayer modes on higher difficulties. Bullet time is also in multiplayer as well and it actually works quite well. Completing singleplayer on harder difficulties unlocks more things, but there are other singleplayer modes, like arcade, where you try and rack up as much points as you can in each level, and New York minute returns, where you must complete every level in under one minute, gaining extra time with each kill and even more time with head shots.
The multiplayer however is really secondary, especially if you’re a Max Payne fan. What you really got the game for was the story. If you haven’t already, I recommend you play the first game. You don’t really have to, but it’s quite interesting to watch the character development. In the third game, Max finally gets the chance to grieve for all the people he lost in the previous two games, including his wife and baby girl. As a result, a lot of the cut scenes are quite dark and even depressing and he drowns his sorrows in alcohol and a mid life crisis. Payne takes the job as a bodyguard (a word of advice – don’t hire a drunk for a bodyguard) for a rich family in Brazil and is recruited by a new character by the name of “Passos”. He is actually quite a likeable character, since not only Max likes him, but they also share the same sense of humor. There are plenty of wisecracks in the game and the dialog, although painfully (okay, I’ll stop) cheesy is very well written. This game is pretty much an interactive movie and I think even the scripting is very well done. The story is also no longer told through a graphic novel. Is that good or bad? Not really sure, I miss the graphic novels, I don’t really know of any other game that tells the story this way, but the cut scenes, despite being incredibly long are still really good.
Voice acting is really well done too, in fact everything to do with sound in this game is perfect. The soundtrack is really amazing and really sets the tone for the theme of the game. I feel that Rockstar really went above and beyond in using sound to create an authentic atmosphere. The weapons also sound beefy enough, even in slow motion and it makes them a joy to use.
The graphics look amazing too. The levels have lots of variety, which you’ll have a lot of fun shooting the crap out of. Environments aren’t as destructive as say Battlefield, but you’ll find that certain points of cover don’t last long as they get shot up by your enemies. Going into slow motion lets you see bullets traveling through the air and also makes them easier to dodge.
Despite how good it is, I’m not particularly interested in the multiplayer and I wish Rockstar had spent more time on making the singleplayer experience longer. Although the different modes do offer quite a bit of replayability and so in all honesty I’m not really ready to put this game away yet. If you were worried, like me, that this game wouldn’t live up to the standards of the previous ones in the series, then don’t worry, Max fills those concerns with bullet holes with amazingly fun gameplay, despite that only feeling like it’s half of the singleplayer experience and for those who want it, the multiplayer is well worth the money too. Overall a very fun game.