The VPH Review – Max Payne 3

There is violence, there is realistic violence, and the there is Max Payne 3. RockStar Games (my former employer) has made a disturbingly gritty game with a cinematic touch.  At NYC ComicCon 2011, ImperviousRex and myself got an early glimpse of what MP3 had to offer.  A quick promo followed by a few short minutes of gameplay footage which showcased the ins and outs of both Bullet Time and Shoot Dodge.  As impressed as I was by the demo and the free stickers they handed out prior to the screening, the only thing I could think of was that awful movie starring Mark Wahlberg.

Regardless of questionable films, the game looks stunning.  The attention to detail on some of the levels reminded me of the Uncharted series, but much darker and much grittier.  In fact, I felt myself comparing this game to the latest Uncharted installment, which may explain why I could just not get into the story as much as I would have liked.  Maybe it was too dark for my liking.  The story plays right down the line and unleashes Max in one action packed territory after another.  The character designs are commendable and the level layouts, especially towards the end, are rich in detail.  Other than a few texture issues and an occasional image pop, RockStar once again does a great job of setting a story.

As I mentioned earlier the game plays much like Uncharted.  The constant color changes, blurry and drunken visuals and thought scrolls across the screen got old for me kind of fast.  It all makes sense though to keep the story rolling along but there were definitely times that I felt like I was the drunk who was addicted to  painkillers.  Some of the most memorable moments are the ones where Max is dangling from a helicopter,  equipped with infinite ammo and just going for broke in a truly cinematic,grandiose style.

Even with Bullet Time, Shoot Dodge and playing on medium difficulty though, I found this game really difficult at times.  One scene in particular,which takes place on the docks of Rio, had me longing for a checkpoint that I thought would never come; painkillers and the cover system are essential.  Many time I thought I was in the clear only to get my head blown off by an unseen foe.  The weaponry is varied and each killing implement has its own distinct look and feel.

Trophies for Max Payne 3 are certainly not a quick and easy affair, as they definitely  require multiple playthroughs to obtain.

Max Payne 3 was just the game I needed to get back in the swing of things after my long vacation.  Rockstar did a fantastic job of creating a game with a tremendous cinematic feel.  The simple gameplay may not have been as satisfactory  as some games I’ve played lately but the story and character development made up for it.  I was not expecting the gratuitous detail in the violence, but was pleasantly surprised to see how far RockStar was willing to go to make a person really feel invested in a games characters, gameplay and distinct style.

(ed. note – The soundtrack was one of the best I’ve heard all year; take a listen)

I F’N KNEW IT a.k.a Proof I’m Not (completely) Crazy

Max Payne 3 ‘Cheater Pool’ is live

While spending some serious time this weekend emptying twin automatic 9mms into punks from Hoboken to Sao Paulo, it struck me that there some insanely frustrating details about Max Payne 3’s multiplayer. For instance:

Situation: I’m going to shoot an enemy, press fire; whoops, guess I’ll just lay down instead. Result: Get shot & die.

Situation: Spot a group of enemies below me, perfect time to throw a grenade! Pull out grenade and instead of throwing it, I’ll just hold on to it.  Result: Get shot & die.

Situation: See an enemy on the other side of a chain link fence, empty two automatic weapons at him. Result:  My guns are ineffective against chain link, yet somehow increase the damage of my enemies gun. Get shot & die.

Situation: Melee an enemy. Enemy does not die. Result: Get melee’d & die.

Situation: Spawn in front of the same enemy repeatedly. Result: Variable: take one step then get shot & die or stand still, get shot & die.

Beyond your run of the mill multiplayer nonsense though, there was a special brand of bullshittery happening and now I’m convinced at least one of my opponents was hacking. How? Well, you’re telling me I can’t kill a guy even though I get the drop on him & hose him down with bullets? That he can shoot through a building to kill me? That I keep spawning in front of him?  This was all in the same game, against the same guy. Aggravating on one hand, controller-throwing blind rage on the other.

But now news today from Rockstar Games, that a playlist has gone live where cheaters can nowonly play with other scum-sucking cheating bastards and can leave us honest grinders alone. I’m beyond glad to see that Rockstar is getting out in front of this issue, unlike Activision with Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare & CoD: MW2. Towards the end of CoD4’s lifecycle people were flying. Flying.

Anyway, if you’re on PS3 and want some in Max Payne 3, my screen name is Savage6000. (Yes, my Rockstar Social Club handle is different.  Clearly I have identity issues.)

Max Payne 3 stats

Currently Playing: Max Payne 3

I don’t care about Max Payne.  Let me back up; before this third installation, I didn’t care about Max Payne.  Now, having just spent 12 hours firing 21 thousand bullets into over 2100 of New Jersey & Sao Paulo’s worst all I can say is that I can’t wait to do it again.

While not as open & sprawling as Grant Theft Auto IV or Red Dead Redemption, Rockstar turns out just as compelling a story with Max. There is definitely portions they could have trimmed towards the end, but Rockstar is generally criticized for the third acts of their franchise series losing the narrative thread a bit.  Honestly, that might just be the only complaint I have about the game.  Visually? Stunning.  Musically? Buying (that’s right, with money) the soundtrack. Story? Gripping. I was invested in Max’s spiral towards destruction & eventual redemption from the opening minutes, which you have to give Rockstar credit for.  Enabling someone new to an entire mythology to pick up the third part of a trilogy and becoming immediately invested in the characters is no small feat.

The biggest surprise, however, was the multiplayer.  I never been a fan of any of Rockstar’s previous multiplayer efforts in either GTA IV or RDR.  They were just too sprawling, the game modes too difficult to figure out, the ability for a new player to pick up and play almost nonexistent.  Additionally, I’ve just never cared for third person multiplayer; even Uncharted’s couldn’t hold my interest for more than a few casual games.  The multiplayer in Max Payne 3 is so good that I can barely stand not playing it now. “So what’s the big difference?” you’re (not) saying to yourself. Brass tacks? Simply, it’s fun and cool. Somehow, and I can’t put my finger on it, Rockstar has been able to freshen up what has become an increasingly stale bolt-on feature to games while making it arguable a better time than the single player campaign.

If you’re not playing this game, shame on you.  Go get it.  I’m a member of the Polygon crew; request an invite and join up!  Or just add me on the PSN; screen name is Savage6000.

Who Picked Up Max Payne 3?

If you have, what are your thoughts on it?  This is the first MP game I’ve played and I’ve just begun the third chapter but so far I can say I’m a fan.  I’m waiting for the story to open up more as it progresses.  I’m a little worried when I read the single player mode is only 10-12 hours long but apparently the multi-player makes up for it.  Problem is I haven’t been a fan of the multi-player in either Grand Theft Auto IV or Red Dead Redemption…that part’s a wait and see.  I’ve only played two hours or so; more thoughts when I get deeper into it this weekend.

P.S. Add me on PS3 – Savage6000