A new haircut and a new development studio, but the same diving move. Did it make a difference? Hello and welcome to the final part (unless someone wants to make a new Max Payne) of my ranking of Max Payne. You can find the actual ranking here and you can find why I ranked this game the way I did right here right now. So let’s get right into it.
Taking place some time after the events of the second game, Max is doing what he does best: boozing up and feeling sorry for himself. While in the bar one day, he is confronted by someone offering a different kind of job: contract work. Max is now a bodyguard for a rich and powerful family in Brazil, but just like every other Max Payne game, things go awry. Now, it is up to Max to save the family and get at the people pulling the strings. But also like a Max Payne game, getting at wrongdoers isn’t that simple.
Unlike Max Payne 2 where it plays out as a continuation of the series, this one is different. This isn’t a Remedy game, it’s a Rockstar game. So the big question of this game is whether or not this is still a Max Payne game. The answer isn’t a simple yes or no, so let’s get into it.
In many ways, this game feels like “Rockstar presents Max Payne.” It’s kind of a dumb statement considering that is exactly what this game is, but I think everything from the gameplay to the story plays out like this. The staples of Max Payne are here, but they just feel like things tacked onto the experience to resemble Max Payne, while everything else feels like a Rockstar game. Some of these changes are for the better, but I found many to be for the worse.
Right off the bat, I hit issues that made the experience bad. I had to log into a Rockstar account, and the DLC I owned had to be inputted. These annoyances feel unnecessary, but fortunately I only had to do it once. Before I got to the main menu, I watched a cutscene, which was the beginning of an issue that really made the experience poor. Every five-to-ten seconds, the game would pause itself. So while I was watching this cutscene, the game kept pausing it over and over. This issue continued onto the gameplay, and the only way I found to alleviate the issue was to turn off the network connection to my computer. Yep, I played the entire game offline. I have been prone to technical issues with this series before (one to be exact), but that had a simple fix and I could at least tell myself that it is an older game. This game is six years old, which makes it old enough to question the issue but young enough to be considered a ‘modern game’ in my mind. It’s disappointing to see Rockstar be Rockstar with their PC port of this game and not put the time into at least fixing it. Still, I got to play through the game, and that is all that matters.
Getting into the game, it plays like a Max Payne game. Slow motion diving was still fun, and Max is still his old cynical self. This time though, some improvements have been made to the game. You can finally choose multiple difficulties at the start of the game, and a new cover mechanic has been added. I thought the cover mechanic would distract the game from its diving mechanic, but I found they work hand-in-hand. Max also reacts to his environment; so if you dive into a wall, Max will react to it. Some other gameplay improvements ensue, but I think these improvements improved the game without compromising what makes Max Payne great.
Unfortunately, compromising what makes this series great is what this game feels like to me. Because while there are some good new aspects to the game, a lot of this game is in an identity crisis. Max Payne staples are there, but they feel tacked on, and a lot of differences are made to many different aspects of the game.
The biggest thing that feels different about this game is how the game feels more bombastic. You aren’t saving Earth from aliens or anything, but this game paints you as an action hero more than others. Instead of a noir feeling and spending one crazy night fighting against the mafia, you find yourself in on-rail shooting scenes with the paramilitary. One of the things I liked about the previous game is how grounded the story felt, and this game doesn’t really have that. The noir feel is gone, and instead of crawling around abandoned tunnels filled with henchmen, I am shooting grenades out of midair and causing crazy commotion. One good thing I will say that comes out of this change is that I love the cutscenes, as they take on this semi-comic book feel that looks really cool. Still, I feel this action take on the game is a real loss of identity for the series, and it loses what I love about this game. On top of its loss of identity, I found the controls to be clunkier and the sprint to be useless. I feel that the negatives I had with this game are worse than the ones I had with the previous iterations, and I feel a lot of that is to blame on the change of developers.
I had issues, but at the end of the day I still had fun with this game. I was still diving like a mad man, and for some reason killing felt better in this game. Plus, this game has some other improvements I appreciated. You now stay on the ground for as long as you long after a dive, and the game now offers a last chance mode where if you get killed by someone while still carrying pills, you get a chance at staying alive. The game offers challenges to be completed and collectibles to be picked up, and the sheer amount of weapons to try can also keep you occupied. I still had fun with this game, even if it wasn’t the exact kind of fun I had with the other two games.
Unlike previous games, this one offers a multiplayer mode. It seems a lot of focus was put onto the mode because I want to say most, if not all, of the DLC for this game is for the multiplayer. The multiplayer was dead, so I moved onto the mode that will stay forever: NY minute. I feel this is the best iteration of the mode because it goes by level like the second game, but only allows a minute like the first. I really think you can’t build this mode better than how Rockstar built it, and as always it is fun to play.
In conclusion, I think Max Payne 3 isn’t a great Max Payne game. While the staples are there, I feel a loss in identity with the title, and the game feels more like Rockstar game than a Payne game. I’m not saying the Rockstar feel is bad, I just didn’t want the Rockstar feel with this game. Because of that as well as how poorly Rockstar handled the PC version of this game, I am putting this game last on this. If there are plans for a Max Payne 4, then I ask that you don’t let Rockstar touch it.
That is going to be a wrap. It’s now time to put this rank to rest either forever or until a new Max Payne comes out. Thank you for reading, and tune in soon for other blogs happening here at Black Red Gaming.