Why Max Payne 3 Will Kick Ass on PC

With full DirectX 11 support and tessellation aplenty, Max Payne 3 is looking seriously sexy.

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In June this year, Max Payne's slow-motion, shoot-diving, beard-sporting self is making a return to our screens in Max Payne 3. And mighty fine it's looking too, if our previous looks at the game are anything to go by. But there's one version that's looking especially sweet, and it's not on the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3. If you really want to experience Max Payne 3 at its ass-kicking finest, it's all about the PC version--if you've got some suitably beefy hardware to support it.

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The sceptical among you might be thinking the PC version is simply a console port. After all, that's a practice that has become commonplace in modern game development. But Max Payne 3 on the PC is no mere port, according to Rockstar. It has been developed alongside the console version and sports a number of PC-specific enhancements that make use of everyone's favourite collection of application programming interfaces, DirectX 11.

That's a boon for anyone with a relatively new graphics card, so you can expect lots of tasty tessellation for smoother, more detailed visuals, as well as support for higher resolutions and frame rates than on console. Also promised are full mouse and keyboard support, customisable controls and visual settings, an absence of any load times, and support for Nvidia's 3D Vision technology.

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The proof is in the pudding, though, and thanks to an extended look at the game running on a GTX 680, we found there's plenty to be excited about. In a level set in a huge stadium, Max and his buddy were on the run from a group of rebel soldiers, each of them pretty pissed off at our hero. As the pair made their way around the stadium, we got a great look at some of the visual enhancements made to the PC version.

The most obvious was the higher resolution of the game. While the console versions look great, on PC the visuals look crisper, rendering the brisk action with a level of detail that made Max's bullet-time shenanigans all the more impressive. The enhanced detail was readily apparent in facial animations too, with Max's monologues being full of furrowed brows and menacing grimaces. Those moments were further enhanced with bokeh-heavy text that floated and flashed around the screen, forming part of the game's attempt to blend graphic novel elements with in-game action.

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But the most impressive visuals came during heated firefights. Transitions to Max's bullet-time ability were incredibly smooth, making use of all kinds of neat visual effects like motion blur. The flare from Max's guns was suitably bright and flashy as he laid waste to the many soldiers in his path, picking them off with carefully placed headshots. Stray bullets left puffy trails of smoke behind them, shattering nearby panes of glass and sending stray shards flying around the screen. Also neat were the many empty bullet shells that fell from Max's gun, creating that always satisfying "clink" sound as they hit the ground.

All that visual loveliness comes at a price, so you'll need a relatively modern graphics card to get in on the action--anything from Nvidia's GTX 400 series or ATI's 5000 series, through to the latest Kepler-powered GTX 680 or ATI's HD7970. Rockstar has promised to support users with less sporty hardware too, though you will miss out on some of the DirectX 11-specific enhancements.

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Max Payne 3 is due for release on June 1 in the EU and May 29 in North America, which should give you just enough time to save for that upgrade.

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