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)

All Hail Your Champion (solitaire) Golf (game) er!

Per Kotaku’s advice (Trust Me. Fairway Solitaire Is an iPhone Solitaire Game You Should Play.) I downloaded Fairway Solitaire for my nearest iOS device and wow…they were right.  It’s awesome. Not only that, but I’M awesome at it.  To wit, the list of world records I now hold:

– Best Score on a 3 Hole Course

– Best Score on a 6 Hole Course

– Longest Great Shot

– Longest Great Shot Without Using Any Irons

– Most Gopher “Encounters” (why the quotes, I wonder?)

– Most Irons Found

– Most Cards Left in Draw Pile With a Perfect Score

– Most Cards Played in 3 Seconds

– Longest Descending Great Shot

– Longest Ascending Great Shot

I am some sort of Fairway Solitaire (idiot) savant.  If only I could apply this skill to any of Zynga’swith Friends games so I don’t end up hating all of my friends.

Whoops, too late. Goddamn knockoff Scrabble.

Not Just Gold, Baby…but PLATINUM

One hundred and thirty four hours. Twenty eight minutes. Nineteen seconds. That’s how long it took me to wrap up the majority of Skyrim. At least, what I believe to be the majority. I did innumerable quests, completed the Civil War storyline in addition to the main through line, turned Bone Smasher the Dark Elf into a bad ass blacksmith/enchanter/archer/one-handed/light armor head of the Thieves Guild, Arch-Mage of the College of Winterhold, leader of The Dark Brotherhood, member of the Companions/Bard’s College/Stormcloaks and slayer of many, many dragons.  WHEW.

But now what?  Skyrim was such a consuming, driving force in both my life as a video game player but also into my life as a quasi-responsible adult with responsibilities.  I now feel the same sort of emptiness that I get after finishing a really excellent book; namely, I wish I was still doing it.

Starting anew isn’t the answer, though I am curious how it would be to run through the game as chiefly a magic user.  I just don’t have another 134 hours to spare.  I guess the way forward is to continue to explore the game in my spare time, looking for new caves or keeps or towers I haven’t found before, using my twin Daedric swords to carve a bloody swath across Tamriel (or my twin maces, or my twin katana.  Dual weapons all day!).

Well, that and hold out hope for some incredible DLC.