Spending Bullet Time With Friends: Max Payne 3 Multiplayer

Has Rockstar figured out how to adapt Max Payne's signature mechanic into a multiplayer setting?

You're pinned behind a bus in a Sao Paulo transit depot, with a half-dozen mercenaries ready to wipe you from the face of the Earth the second you peek your head past the headlights. You keep still, planning your next move, when out of nowhere some lunatic flings himself from a second-story window and manages to shoot every single one of those armed thugs before he even hits the ground. Immediately upon impact, he pops up as if to say, "I'm good!" and then proceeds to loot each of his victims like a ravenous hobo. Right now that guy might look like the craziest man on the planet, but he's also your teammate. And he just saved your life.

Like in the single-player campaign, cover can be used in Max Payne 3 multiplayer.

Welcome to the delightfully chaotic world of Max Payne 3 multiplayer. At the heart of that chaos is Max Payne's signature bullet-time mechanic--the ability to fire off bullets in dramatic slow motion, often while leaping through the air with a complete disregard for your personal safety. Unlike most shooters that feature a time-manipulation mechanic in the single-player campaign, Max Payne 3 doesn't ditch bullet time in the online half of the game. In fact, it embraces it wholeheartedly. All you need to do is kill a few enemies to build up your adrenaline gauge and then cash it in with the tap of a button to start diving around like the star of a Hong Kong action movie.

When you engage bullet time, anyone caught in your direct line of sight will have their movements slowed down as well, indicated by their screen suddenly turning a reddish hue. The really interesting thing about all this is that this bullet-time effect can be chained from one target to another. So if your target also happens to have his sights set on a teammate of yours, slow motion will spread to that third player as well. This gives your opponent a chance to either go for the kill he already had his eyes on or simply break from your line of sight to escape the bullet-time effect altogether. It's a clever way of balancing the slow-motion effect in a competitive multiplayer setting, giving successive targets an opportunity to avoid frustration when they're caught in anyone's bullet time force field. And when you manage to turn right around on them and counter their attack with a kill of your own, it's immensely gratifying.

Combine this with the fact that you can dramatically leap through windows or down entire flights of stairs, and you can see how a typical Max Payne multiplayer match has a way of turning into an acrobatic free-for-all. What's more, bullet time is just one of several "burst" rewards you can elect to use in online matches. Bursts are basically multitiered kill streak rewards; the more kills you rack up, the higher your adrenaline gauge and the greater the reward you can trigger.

You can build a custom character based on each of the different gangs playable in multiplayer.

These rewards come in a variety of flavors. The Weapon Dealer burst gives you infinite ammo for a certain amount of time, while the Weapon Double Dealer burst allows for more sinister fun by making the other team drop their spare grenades to the ground (charged and ready to explode) at the third and highest reward tier. Other burst sets allow you to play mind games with your opponents, with the Sneaky burst letting you appear to have joined the other team and the Paranoia burst making all your opponents see their teammates as enemies (with friendly fire disabled at the first tier but enabled at the third tier). Most of these bursts seem well balanced in the overall spectrum of chaos that is Max Payne 3 multiplayer, but if there's one that could prove a lightning rod, it's Paranoia. That's the burst that seems to be skating on the thinnest of ice, and we can easily see it being nerfed down the line.

Choosing which burst you equip your character with is one of the borderline insane number of customization options in Max Payne 3 multiplayer. On the cosmetic side, you can choose from a variety of clothing, facial, and hair options--with distinctly different fashion choices for the six types of Sao Paulo gangs you can play as in multiplayer. Seriously, if you're a fan of character creation screens, prepare to spend an inordinate amount of time tweaking each of your multiplayer characters. (We're big fans of the stoner burn victim Max Payne look.) On top of that, you can upgrade your character with functional equipment like gas masks (to protect you from tear gas grenades) and balaclavas (to help remain undetected on the radar) that also appear on your character model in-game.

Then you've got the various custom loadout kits. You can design a handful of customized loadouts using different sidearm, primary weapon, and grenade options and then further tweak those with a series of attachments. That type of loadout creation is pretty standard stuff these days, but what makes this approach different is that each of those customization options affects your overall weight. There's very much a risk-reward element to arming yourself to the teeth: you can easily turn into a tank on the battlefield, but you'll run, leap, and roll with significantly less agility than players who bear less resemblance to a walking arms factory. With movement playing such a big role in Max Payne 3 multiplayer, that weight meter is definitely something you want to keep an eye on.

When you get up high, slow-motion diving becomes that much more fun.

In fact, it's that focus on movement and agility that we like most about Max Payne 3's multiplayer offerings. The game always seems to give you a reason to run around doing silly, stylish things. This is a game where diving down a flight of stairs not only looks awesome, but can also be quite practical when it lets you slow down time and catch your enemy off guard. Even if you're not particularly good at the game, you're given a reason to avoid cowering behind cover thanks to a looting mechanic that lets you pilfer dead bodies for pain pills (medicine that gives you a second chance after death), ammo, or even adrenaline--the reward you'd get for having killed those players to begin with. Beyond that, there's also a vendetta system that allows you to put a mark on the head of someone who has been tormenting you so that you know exactly where to go to seek justice. There's always a reason to keep moving and exploring new corners of the map, resulting in a brisk pace awash in a distinctly chaotic sense of style.

There's plenty more to the multiplayer that we haven't covered here, including the various game modes and a unique approach to clans Rockstar is calling crews. But here's the bottom line: it works. Rockstar has managed to take what you enjoy about Max Payne's single-player exploits and translate that into a functional, enjoyable multiplayer experience. You may look like a lunatic diving through windows and looting corpses, but you'll be having an awfully fun time with your newfound lunacy.

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115 comments
sumo29
sumo29

Does the multiplayer work locally as well? (E.g. I can have several people over to play at the same time at my place?)

iskulaatikko
iskulaatikko

Ahh. For years i've hoped that the HL mod The Specialists would return - instead i get a sequel for my all time favourite game, with a multiplayer that seems to pick up the best parts of TS mod. Bullet time, the balance between being heavily armed or being fast and agile. Im soooo waiting for this game, first off for an epic story - now also for the Multiplayer.

RobertBowen
RobertBowen

Not really interested in the multiplayer aspect, but from the trailers it very much looks like they've captured the feel of the previous Max Payne games were well. More interested in this game now than I was before.

shansss123
shansss123

Rockstar is the best but i hope to see Red Dead Repemption and GTA V on PC too....

Skargamer
Skargamer

Reading this just took my excitement level to... OVER 9000!!! :D I want a video, quick! :D

ResponsibleGame
ResponsibleGame

@PeterDuck - I understand that Max Payne has traditionally been a run-and-gun shooter , but judging by the previews , the game seems to discourage the " stop-pop-shoot-proceed " mantra in favor of the traditional " run-and-gun " experience that most shooters simply discard these days . And regarding the setting , well , let's just hope that R* can smoothly transpose the Noir-ish atmosphere from New York to New Jersey to Brazil proficiently .

soapman72
soapman72

Hope this is as good as the last couple rockstar games

BadHungryWolf
BadHungryWolf

Rockstar = Awesomeness. Remedy = Greatness. Rockstar + Remedy = I can't wait for this gaaaaaaaaaaaaame aaaaaarrrggghhhhh!!!

nooop
nooop

i don't need Bullet time with my friend because i have alcohol time

Psycold
Psycold

Preordered my special edition yesterday, the one with the 10" statue of Max

gunnplay
gunnplay

Best multiplayer game of 2012? Yeah, I'll go ahead and stick my neck out and say that. At least until GTA5 drops.

superdude100
superdude100

Cant wait for this its gonna be brilliant

Fox-13
Fox-13

The 1st Max Payne was a charming game for me. It's story was unpretensious and raw. The comic book style narrative helped a lot in achieving it's noire feel. I hope they can still preserve these features in this new game without the comic narrative.

PeterDuck
PeterDuck

@ResponsibleGame Well I mentioned the difference between the first two games and this one based on what I saw. This differences are apparent. Cover system, gangs, Brazil, no comics-narrative.

norman69
norman69

I have a feeling that I'll be using the Vendetta feature a lot in this game *evil face*

ResponsibleGame
ResponsibleGame

@PeterDuck - Seeing something can be very different from actually experiencing it . There are a number of games of which I've seen gameplay footage and I was like " What's so special about this ? " . Some of the prime examples that I can think of in that context is Mass Effect 2 and the first two Max Payne games . But then I actually played them , and I loved them . And I get the feeling that Max Payne could very fall into that category . It looks like any other third-person shooter we've seen over the last few years , but hell , it could very well go on to be that remarkable experience that its predecessors were .

wavelength121
wavelength121

@tigershark16000 Indeed, Specialists was an ace mod. Bullet time was just a small part of it, but the firefights were grand. I miss Half-Life multiplayer mods like Desert Conflict and Firearms. They had the point-control stuff down but there was something clunky about them that gave them that extra bit of charm. Goooood times :]

JayP_8776
JayP_8776

@tigershark That's insane, I was just thinking of that mod when I was reading through this! Fantastic game, one of the best and most original HL mods, if you ask me.

Gamer-Geek
Gamer-Geek

@tigershark16000 I remember that game :D, the dm was good, zombies were awesome and the roleplaying was just plain awesome ^^

tigershark16000
tigershark16000

Recently I started playing again IMHO the best deathmatch game ever created: an old Half-Life mod called The Specialists. This reminds me of it in a similar-but-different way. This is a very good thing. I highly recommend everyone to satiate their slow-motion deathmatch craving by getting TS for the time being. You will not regret it. The point is I'm glad he didnt seem to make a mention of this being "the first DM multiplayer to feature slow motion" or anything like that (even though FEAR had it too), because TS was literally the first, and that game is a stylish, stunt-filled slowmo masterpiece.

vault-boy
vault-boy

I love those guys down at Rockstar and I know if anyone can do it its probably them. Not saying its going to be a huge innovation on the world of online gameplay yet, but if it lives up to Rockstar standards (which has only gone up with time, might I add) than this is going to rock (no abstract pun intended).

Antatious
Antatious

I absolutely cannot wait for this game. And to see what other types of game modes are offered.

PeterDuck
PeterDuck

@splinter10 what's wrong with making a sequel in similar environment with similar gameplay mechanic? Plus there are cinematic movies now, what happened to comics-like narrative? Fighting gangs in South America? really? What happened to the dark noire of NY? In the first game you had the mob, the cops and the secret corporation after you. I just doubt they will be able to top the first two games. A sequel is just that, a sequel, a continuation. A sequel doesn't necessarily imply major change.

PeterDuck
PeterDuck

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

splinter10
splinter10

After reading this and watching the actual gameplay. I'm very sure the online will be awesome. However I think it will be very similar to Red Dead's online.

hitmanxmk
hitmanxmk

@ Splinter10 @PeterDuck Ok, the whole fuzz its about what u are talking now. Judging by "L.A. Noire" i know that Rockstar games will make a blockbuster from "Max Payne 3" and it will be really something worthy to play. BUT, what I think (as PeterDuck) and many many more people, and probably you will agree with me, is that, "Max Payne" 1 & 2 were great just because of the main actor, atmosphere, story, bullet time etc etc... All those attributes gave live to Max Payne franchise. Now, making completely new game which holds only the name and bullet time, but everything else is wiped out. I mean, at first place, why bother to destroy something that was hit in his time? After all, everyone who expects sequel of a game, he EXPECTS to see again the most important attributes of the prequels with some adjustments and new things, but core MUST to remain the same...and probably most important aspects would be. story, gameplay, atmosphere.... Again, I, as many other people who enjoyed max payne 1 & 2 would recommend and expect the same max payne as its prequels ~10 years ago.

splinter10
splinter10

@PeterDuck I understand you have a thirst for nostalgia, but if you expected Max Payne 3 to be just like the other three games...Well then I guess you didn't really want a sequel

PeterDuck
PeterDuck

@ResponsibleGame Why? I've seen the gameplay videos. Max Payne is in Brazil and not NY; and there is cover system now (there wasn't one in the previous two games).

JJB03
JJB03

in all fairness the friendly fire fire thing and making your team mates appear as enimies may sound unbalanced but surly after a certain amount time you will adjust to who is actually on your team because you would recognize there live names, same with when an enemy appears to be on your team you would know its a bad guy by the amount times he appears on the kill feed so his name should be familiar to you

rleitao
rleitao

this sounds very interesting.

nardhardy
nardhardy

Rockstar knows our expectations are high,really n truely any game they release expetations are high because they are a pretty beast development team. Max payne 1 and 2 were great games for their time period, now lets see Rockstar show these other lazy devs how to create a action pack,story driven,fun multiplayer that we can know and love...Max Payne 3 has me pumped!

lilhinkle4
lilhinkle4

Great preview Shaun! You just made me 10X more excited for this game! Sucks though, seeing how it's not releasing for another month and a half lol.

sarimrocks
sarimrocks

Yup, a video about this would've been cool!

TheGreyArea
TheGreyArea

Golden gun time again rockstar fans. hell yes baby

ResponsibleGame
ResponsibleGame

@PeterDuck - Do you mind playing the game and then arriving at a conclusion ?

XanderKage
XanderKage

Some of the bursts sound a little... unbalanced. Making teammates appear as enemies, with friendly fire? Can be a major pain the butt.

cboyuno
cboyuno

this is something i'll have to play to judge

yobosshog
yobosshog

 @REDDSouljah420 yo ur right kind of but i love max payne 3 it has bullet time and u can put a bullet trough a persons head so cool

yobosshog
yobosshog

 @gunnplay i have not bought max payne 3 yet but just by looking at it it is cool i am sure u are right