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Review

Max Payne 3 Review

  • Game release: May 15, 2012
  • Reviewed: June 15, 2012
  • PC

The PC version of Max Payne 3 is every bit as savage and satisfying as its console predecessors.

by

Max Payne's home has always been on the PC. The original 2001 game and its sequel debuted on the PC, and though they received console versions--some of which captured the excellence of their PC counterparts and some of which didn't--it was on PC that he first made his mark. Times have changed for Max, and his latest outing hit consoles first and PC second, which may raise concerns about whether, this time around, it's the PC version that feels secondary and the console versions that feel definitive. As it turns out, such concerns are unfounded. Max Payne 3 is just as gorgeous and intense on PC as it is on consoles, and the pinpoint precision offered by a mouse makes the PC version the best way to enjoy this brutal and haunting shooter.

Wherever you go, there you are. It's a truth Max Payne knows better than anyone. Fleeing his New York life to take a job working security for a wealthy family in Sao Paulo, the hard-drinkin', pill-poppin' Max finds that his demons come along for the ride. Though the details of the plot add up to your typical story of conspiracy and corruption, of the rich and powerful preying on the poor and helpless to become even more rich and powerful, the writing, acting, and presentation elevate this tale well above a boilerplate video game crime story.

It's hard to stay ambivalent once you see the horrors being suffered by the innocent here, and you'll likely want to see Max's quest for vengeance through to its conclusion just as badly as he does. Max reveals a complexity here not seen in earlier games, as he hits rock bottom and must either stay there or face his demons head-on and make himself anew. Other characters, too, reveal a surprising humanity. You might be tempted to write off Marcelo, the youngest brother in the wealthy Branco dynasty Max is hired to protect, as the shallow playboy he often appears to be. But in moments of disarming honesty, he reveals to Max a depth that lies beneath the facade he presents to the world.

Cutscenes use multiple moving panels to pay homage to the graphic-novel-style storytelling of previous games without feeling beholden to it, and the considered use of blurring and other visual effects echo Max's state of mind, perhaps making you feel as if you're the one who has been hitting the bottle a little too hard. James McCaffrey does an excellent job reprising his role as Max, bringing a wider range of emotions to a character who has previously often been one-note. The writing is terrific; Max's world-weary wit is as bone-dry as ever, and as he ruminates on things like loyalty and loss, much of what he says has the sound of hard-earned wisdom. Subtle touches throughout the game make Max seem convincingly alive, such as the complex look that crosses over his face at the start of one stage when bloodshed seems inevitable; it's as if he dreads what's coming, but does his best to mentally prepare himself for it.

These characters are flawed and not always likable, which makes them all the more interesting.

Max Payne 3 has far more sunlight and color than earlier Max Payne games, but the menaces Max faces here are at least as dark as those he's faced before. The locales Max has to gun his way into or out of are alive with authenticity and detail. Nightclubs throb with dance music and light shows; children play soccer in the favelas; run-down hotels are packed with leftover junk from their earlier days of luxury. And it's not all tropical locations and bad Hawaiian shirts for Max Payne here; a few great flashbacks that take place in Hoboken, New Jersey, reflect the snowy weather and urban atmosphere of earlier Max Payne games, as well as Max's previous fashion sensibilities, and connect his new life with his old one.

Max hasn't lost his ability to blow bad guys away by the hundreds, but in Max Payne 3, reflecting modern sensibilities and perhaps his own age, he takes things slower and makes judicious use of a new cover mechanic. Yet the addition of this currently common element doesn't mean that Max Payne 3 feels like every other third-person shooter. Far from it. The game is differentiated from its contemporaries by several qualities, not least of which is its unflinching violence. Bullets visibly tear through bodies, leaving holes that spurt blood as your enemies die. Each encounter with a group of enemies ends with a bullet cam, showing your final, fatal bullet soaring through the air and striking its target in grisly detail, and giving you the option to pump excessive, unnecessary ordnance into the poor bastard. It's a cathartic and satisfying way to end each firefight.

Bullet time, the defining mechanic of the Max Payne series, lends gunplay a cinematic intensity that remains exhilarating from the start of the substantial campaign until its finish some 12 hours or so later. When bullet time is enabled, you can see every pellet that bursts forth from a shotgun, every bullet that whizzes past your head. Windows break apart beautifully; concrete shatters to reveal the rebar underneath; and all other sorts of believable destruction to the world around you takes place as you and your enemies try to gun each other down.

Max hasn't forgotten how to fly.

Bullet time slows your enemies down significantly, letting you aim and fire faster than they can respond. But despite the significant edge this gives you over your foes, they are no pushovers. They make smart use of flanking tactics, so you need to stay aware of what's happening on all sides, and, yes, you need to make effective use of cover. There are still situations aplenty where an old-fashioned head-on approach can get the job done, but by and large, you need to approach combat in Max Payne 3 a bit more defensively than in past games. This measured approach allows for individual moments to stand out; rather than losing yourself in a constant flurry of gunfire, you can take satisfaction in a particularly skillful shot, and lining that shot up with a mouse is easier with the precision afforded by a mouse than it is with a gamepad.

Max's vulnerability, and the feeling of danger that accompanies it, makes combat much more nerve-racking than it was in earlier Max Payne games, but it does come with a downside: Max's signature shootdodge has suffered. You can still leap through the air in slow motion like a John Woo action hero, attempting to blow your foes away before you land, but because your enemies also make good use of cover, there's a good chance some of them won't be vulnerable to your airborne assault, and as you get up from the ground after a shootdodge, you're something of a sitting duck. The result is that you may end up using shootdodge from time to time not because it's a particularly effective tactic but because, risks be damned, it just looks so cool.

There's a great variety of guns to use in Max Payne 3--all manner of pistols, shotguns, rifles, and submachine guns. Max can still dual-wield weapons but, in a great touch, any larger weapon you grab is carried in his left hand, and if you opt to dual-wield your smaller weapons, he has to drop the bigger gun. (After all, where is he going to put it?) Max also has a number of terrific, hard-hitting melee attacks at his disposal, which knock enemies helplessly to the ground and then let you fill them full of lead. Great sound design supports the impact of the action. Gunfire sounds as fierce and deadly as it looks, and simmering percussion comes to the forefront in battle, a fitting accompaniment to your escalating pulse.

The campaign deftly avoids falling into a rut by frequently putting you in situations that fall outside the standard action. You might find yourself blasting enemies in bullet time as you hang from a helicopter, sliding down a sloped roof into a swimming pool, or in any number of other action movie situations. The campaign also includes just enough periods where you get to catch your breath and simply walk from one place to the next, taking in your vibrant surroundings before the next firefight begins. Optional clues you can search for and collect throughout each level give you an added incentive to look around and give you the sense that Max is good at more than just killing, that he has the instincts of a detective. It all adds up to an immensely exciting, expertly paced campaign that's lengthy enough and varied enough to leave you satisfied.

Where the campaign is tight and focused, the multiplayer is fast, freewheeling, and a little goofy. Though you start with just a handful of loadouts to choose from, you eventually unlock an impressive variety of weapons, attachments, gear, and abilities, called bursts, to choose from. Unlike in the campaign, in which Max fills up his bullet-time meter rather quickly on the standard difficulty, the adrenaline that fills up your burst meter in multiplayer takes time to collect, ensuring that these powers are not overused, and requiring you to choose carefully: Do you cash in your trigger-happy burst at level 1, enjoying the benefit of armor-piercing ammunition for 20 seconds, or do you hold off until you have a full meter and reward yourself with a devastating grenade launcher?

Hey Max, quit hanging around and get to work!

Bullet time is one of the available bursts in multiplayer, and it works well, affecting enemies in your line of sight rather than slowing down enemies all over the battlefield. But it's not the only standout burst. Paranoia is great for causing mayhem on the field, making members of the enemy team see each other as enemies. And big dog, which gives you and your teammates a health boost, can help turn the tables when things are looking grim.

There are standard deathmatch and team deathmatch games, but Payne Killer and Gang Wars are much more interesting. In Payne Killer, you become Max Payne or his partner Passos by killing them, and then earn points for staying alive and killing the attacking players as long as possible. Your bullet-time bursts and life-restoring painkillers give you an edge over your opposition for a little while, but you're heavily outnumbered in these roles, and it's only a matter of time before you're overwhelmed.

Gang Wars is a five-round team game in which objectives vary from round to round. In one round, your team might need to plant bombs at sites that the other team is struggling to protect; in another, there might be a VIP you need to kill on the other team, whose identity and location are revealed only after you kill a certain number of other members of the team. The frequently changing objectives and the uncertainty of what's next make Gang Wars an exciting mode that keeps you on your toes.

Shootdodging gives multiplayer a slightly goofy, distinctly Max Payne flavor.

In the context of the campaign, shootdodging typically looks like a stylish way to kill people. In multiplayer, however, you might see people belly flop gracelessly onto the ground, which can make things a bit comical. The action is wilder in multiplayer than in the campaign, as players scramble to kill each other, using their various bursts to aid their team or to wreak havoc on their opponents. It's all chaotic fun, and the option to start vendettas against players who have killed you twice in a row, which earns you more experience points for the next kill if you get them before they get you, brings a dynamic and personal aspect to the competition as you're often trying to seek out and kill one player in particular.

But while the multiplayer is enjoyable, the single-player campaign is a knockout. There's incentive to return to the campaign and conquer it on higher difficulty levels, or to tackle the leaderboards in Arcade mode and in New York Minute mode, in which you race through levels, earning time for each kill. Times change and people change, too; Max Payne isn't the same man by the end of this game that he is at the beginning. It's fitting, then, that the gameplay has also evolved, that Max needs to proceed with a bit more caution than he did in his younger days. They say the more things change, the more they stay the same, and one thing remains true: you can still count on the Max Payne name to deliver some of the most stylish, distinctive, pulse-pounding shooting around.

The Good
Tight, terrific gunplay that feels especially good with a mouse
Great writing, voice acting, and cutscene presentation
Detailed environments that get destroyed in spectacular fashion
Impactful sound design
Fun, chaotic multiplayer
The Bad
Max's shootdodge maneuver is sometimes frustratingly ineffective
9
Superb
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Discussion

5 comments
Cloud_imperium
Cloud_imperium

Shit game compared to Max Payne 2 . Most of Rockstar kids/fanboys never played first 2 legendary games .
Max Payne 3 had such a mediocre and cheap storyline , as expected from any overrated Rockstar game .

RobKeem
RobKeem

Super Awesome game. Deserves some best game of the year recognition

DavidRI
DavidRI

Great review – very nicely and thoroughly written; Max Payne 3 is a great game. I always enjoy reading this editor's reviews, even if the game reviewed isn't so hot.

daviz88
daviz88

i love max payne 3 it is what i will call a legitimate fast paced action shooter with a good story,well crafted cinematic and boy o boy excellent shooting with the addition of bullet time.only problem i had with the game is it lack variety in game play okay shoot some bad guy bullet time,shoot some more bad guys bullet time and that pretty much it.regardless it a great game that every one should play.

MustSeeMelons
MustSeeMelons

I don't understand people whining that this is the end of Payne. This game, by all means, deserves it's 9/10. The atmosphere, dialogs, graphics, everything is done in a very good level, R* doesn't disappoint. Max Payne 2 is nothing compared to this,  those who say this game is carp - grow up, stop being so stubborn. The only drawback is that the shoot-dodge can get a bit clumsy.

alok08
alok08

The Charisma Created By Max Payne 1 Has Just Ended.

alok08
alok08

Gamespot Start Doing Realistic Reviews.You People Hire Non Gamers to review a game.

Max Payne Series Dies At MP 3.This is a piece of Crap.

Max Payne 1 is the Best.

Sadly this is the End.

SKULLguy
SKULLguy

Man i salute rockstar . But still i wonder why didn't they launch red dead redemption on pc ? It is such and amazing game.
Still anyways LOVE U ROCKSTAR !!

faizan_faizan
faizan_faizan

One of the best games i played this gen, R* never fails to satisfy, 9.5/10

hydra1714
hydra1714

Too much gun fights and pretty much linear.Graphic, Sound and other stuff are Great tho. :)my score 8.5

Dayrakies
Dayrakies

It's a great game. In fact, I wasn't interested in Max Payne 1-2 but this game is one of the best games on its type. I think it should take it's place in people choice voting.

symphony4flamez
symphony4flamez

Great game, and the new cut scenes on steroids are not epic noir comic book, but its still hell of a lot better then looking at generic normal cut scenes with people talking in standing animation for the past decade in gaming. This game would be perfect, if only its AI weren't programmed by god himself, as they can see you through walls and are in synch with every other AI in the map as if one even smells you the entire chapter zones in you. I also learned that random thugs in brazil have gone through godlike training to never miss their target? Damn those sneaky poor bastards, how did they afford gun training with a robot?

expeditopaz2008
expeditopaz2008

The game is great, despite its few flaws. Some chapters are longer that it should be, there's some problemas with the voice acting (Passos' voice, specially, is not good. That is not a Brazilian accent. he looks like an American or some latin person trying to speak Portuguese).And be prepared to die a lot. Sometimes there are so many bullets on the screen that you don't know whose are yours and whose are from the enemies. This is challenging and rewarding. 

sitnik
sitnik

Fantastic game!! Worth every cent.

subhamagarwal85
subhamagarwal85

how will crack or get pass through activation code  in social club??>> 

plz help me in this its a humble request!1!!

outlawst
outlawst

it is a good game but there is almost nothing new in this one,overall it's 8.5 ~9 of 10. but the most annoying thing is when max lay on the floor for any reason,it almost takes years for him to stand up again which some times makes you cry (besides he moves so slow all the time) maybe it's the time for the old man to retire.

browersr
browersr

The game is great in style and substance while offering substantial length hardly seen anymore in FPS games.  That said an I cannot fathom how any legitimate review could possibly not discuss some glaring flaws.  Flaws such as the game changing you back to the default pistol after EVERY cut scene (and there are many) rather than allowing you to stay with the weapon you choose.  This includes when that pistol has no bullets.  Just wonderful to come out of the cut scene only to be holding a crappy gun with no bullets and standing in the middle of a room filled with enemies.  It is inexplicable that this could make it into the final product.  Additionally there were some areas with checkpoints too spread out and occasionally making you leave an area before you ready (haven't finished exploring but happen to press on the next section's door) is annoying. Moving quickly is not possible and going from one cover location to another is awkward and clunky. 

 

This is a great game that I recommend but to leave out any discussion of the flaws above, or really fail to say much of anything about the controls, make this is an incomplete review. 

markosasav
markosasav

The graphics and art style will give you a headache.. The drunk thing that they try to do, should really have been mentioned in the review.. Come on guys.. You don;t work for them.. You should inform us about this stuff.. Awesome graphics they certainly are not..

DatDirtyDawG
DatDirtyDawG

Absolutely hate MaxPayne3 (and I'm a long time fan) Loved 1 and 2 but this 3rd one I find to be grossly overrated.  First of all the controls are just ridiculous.  (i.e.: to name one If I'm crouched I have to hit crouch key again to get out of it, I can't for example hit the sprint key and automatically start running) it's just dumb.  I barely see any difference between hitting the sprint key or just running.  Reloads seem to take forever.  They over did the slow motion thing so that now it's in the way lol.  The last man standing crap that creeps up on you keeps you in slo-mo (whether you want it or not)    I found the controls to be sluggish and clunky and nowhere near the smoothness of the first two games.  Missing is that really cool film noir feeling you got from the first 2.  This one just doesn't have that same feeling.  Where are the story boards?  The only thing I like about MP3 is the graphics.  The game looks sensational.  Soooo disappointed

Pelican170
Pelican170

Its good but not great. Its just been done so many times before. Its like Uncharted but with no platforming and gets repetitive... Story is good as well as graphics but again, repetitive...

danialleghari
danialleghari

Awesome gameplay awesome graphics and awosome story and visuals inshort maxpayne is a great game.which every gamer must play.10/10 i must say

Scarrd
Scarrd

For me, Max Payne 3 does not deliver. Good points are that it's gorgeous and 'Hey, it's Max again!' as the character was brilliant. The combat sounds are amazing from the thud as you shotgun the vested midsection of a rent-a-gun (whom Max despises for some unknown reason) to the squish of a Desert Eagle making a hole in someone large enough to walk through. Even better, environmental damage hasn't been done more realistically and evenly by any other game I have ever played.

 

Alas there are a few problems which for me almost ruin the game. Whilst the combat looks and sounds good, it feels horrible. Gone are the days of snapping your wrist trying to spin the mouse to anihilate a room full of bent cops or thugs as you shootdodge through the centre of a room. With cover being such a mainstay in combat one would imagine that it would be a key thing to get right, no? Rockstar disagrees. There is no fluid movement into cover as you must stand right next to it and then press a button as opposed to, say Gears of War where Marcus would dive into cover from 5-6 feet away. Also when in said cover there is no control to move onto an adjacant piece which is (for me) frustrating to say the least. In Max Payne 3, painkillers are used like the medkits of old to regenerate health and for some reason Max decides that he'll pop them on losing the last bit of health, whether you want him to or not, whilst he survives (for now) Max is now lying prone at the feet of an assailiant (and possibly his friends) that hasn't registered you put a bullet through his skull in slo-mo, which can lead to more problems than just reloading from checkpoint. Then there is the man himself Mr Payne.

 

The writing for Max doesn't do it for me he's still moody and dark with that dry wit which kills me every time, but to me the supposed depth of character feels very forced this time around and him feeling sorry for himself over the inevitable failures isn't anything inventive as far as characters go. At the moment I'm in a graveyard with my newfound trusty sidekick taking on 1920's dress-style gangsters, (it feels a little...corny), and by this point I'm kind of hoping Max doesn't make it through to the final credits, which I'm shocked at myself for thinking as I rate(d) Max as my all time favorite videogame character. I'm hoping for a cover fluidity patch and replacing the faux comicbook style mess (you will know what I mean if you play it) with actual comic book style like in the originals.

And he could lose some pounds. Fatso.

 

Rob

gfavour
gfavour

Can I download game on this site? Tell me how

Kryptonbornson
Kryptonbornson

Just played the real Mafia 2 after Steam summer sale, true rating is about 8.5, Gamespot is in agreement with me there, but it is also much better than Max Payne 3 by a huge margin, save for Max Payne 3 has better shooting. Keep Mafia 2 as it is, but add Max Payne 3's shooting and you have a 9.0. It doesn't need Bullet Time, just more fluid shooting. Max Payne has much more to do before it could earn a 7.0 even.

yasir202
yasir202

Waiting for Max Payne 4  :D

Kryptonbornson
Kryptonbornson

Just purchased Splinter Cell Conviction on the Steam sales and I have to say I'm embarrassed I hadn't tried it sooner. Not only are the graphics gorgeous, but it plays like a dream, like some people might have expected from Max Payne 3. In fact, I kind of see where Max Payne 3 got some of it's inspiration, but of course Max Payne 3 fails on almost all levels. It's no longer on sale, but anyone who liked Max Payne 3, isn't used to playing games like this, weren't fans or hadn't played the original Splinter Cell games (like myself), I'd bet you'll love Conviction. I can tell that just from the start it's already better than MP3 by a wide margin.

yasir202
yasir202

Awesome & this is the best game ever, everything is perfect no doubt.

mori70
mori70

The story really disappointed me and there was not any likeable characters(except for Max).

Max Payne 1&2 are still my all time favourites.

chaz1911
chaz1911

This is one of the best games i have played in years it controls perfectly and the story is so intense  everyone should go and buy it NOW!!!!

Jirokun0909
Jirokun0909

how to download this game? "Newbie" :)

payne_killaz
payne_killaz

UPDATE: after my last comment here, the folks at Rockstar found it in their hearts to reply to my support request. They addressed the problem of the game not starting. Too little too late, because I'd already got it working by trawling the internet for solutions.

Multiplayer is still buggy as hell. I've tried all the solutions listed on the Rockstar Tech Support site and I still get kicked out of games midway. Can anybody here help me out? It is very inconsistent. Sometimes I am able to play, but mostly I get kicked out mid-game with  a Lost Connection message. 

varazcj
varazcj

i forgot say to someone   who wrote this " having confirmed that my system could handle it " before buy some game (new ) you have to read about system request  or go to this( www.systemrequirementslab.com/) and test your pc for that game

varazcj
varazcj

i want to say some thing to some one who don't like Max Payne game .  it is good game for who like it , if  you did not play this game before or Max Payne 3 is not good enough  for you it is not Reason to write bad word for all people . ittt issss not good

 

Buuut game is good for me if you like it or not  don't caaaaare  about that .

This game maybe have some problem but you have to know about that ,all of the  team worked hard to make good game after many years .

pocha91
pocha91

1st of all, English isn't my main language so sorry for that :/

 

Guys this game is just awesome, i made the account on GameSpot just to review this game!, i always focus on the details! the story of this game its so good that you will want to finish this game just to see the end as soon as possible. they can make a movie out of this series!.

 

There are details that made this game awesome for me

 

1)he can't equip a rocket launcher, 2 guns, and a rifle in the same body like other games  it's unrealistic so Max Payne can only have 2 guns and a rifle but he cant use the rifle if you equip the guns on both hands so realistic!!,

 

2)the graphics! the details of the face, the blood, the gunshots, they are JUST PERFECT!, the way the gameplay start after the cut scene! and NO WORDS for the dialogue it's beautiful it makes you feel the scene, and the music when your in action its amazing.

 

3)i hate when i'm playing any 3rd person game and there's no explanation of why i can't go to a place, max Payne always try to open the doors with a realistic animation and even if it's closed he gets hit back by the door, the one that already played this game will notice and understand my point, when you press VAULT button he will get up on whatever part in a realistic way.

 

4) the way he smash windows, he kills with some melee attack and a shot very realistic

 

5) the gunshots on enemies when you target their heads, if you hit the head he's dead (obviously) but if you hit the chest and they have bulletproof they won't die, unless you shoot to their limbs many times!.

Thing is this game has no errors for me. story and gameplay it's just amazing ill give it a 10/10!. Seriously i don't know what the other persons think this is a bad game, in what way???

btrex
btrex

This thing doesn't have an online verification system i hope. Like everybody else i go nuts when a crucial part of the game is reached and the whole thing just cuts off

souther_hill
souther_hill

@faizan_faizan R* is, quite simply, the ultimate video-game developer. Why? Because it's mature and takes itself dead serious in delivering it's messages. I will forever be their fan.

DatDirtyDawG
DatDirtyDawG

 @Scarrd Well said.  Nothing smooth about the movement in this game :(  It's my biggest complaint about the game, everything seems soooo slooooow.  Lousy response time and the last man standing thing is awful

HybridExtreme
HybridExtreme

 @Kryptonbornson Splinter Cell Conviction is an under appreciated gem of a game. I loved it. Deniable Ops is fun too. Overall, Splinter Cell games are fun and you could tell that every time a new Splinter Cell game came out they'd do something different, and better! Max Payne 3 unfortunately took a step backwards!

Kryptonbornson
Kryptonbornson

 @btrex No, I had no serious technical difficulties, again, and I emphasize, there is no crucial part of the game. It is skippable entirely!

Kryptonbornson
Kryptonbornson

 @HybridExtreme I've only played bits of the other Splinter Cell games, but it's good to know a fan could appreciate Conviction, seeing as how it's a radical departure from what I've heard.

Max Payne 3 More Info

First Release on May 15, 2012
  • Macintosh
  • PC
  • + 2 more
  • PlayStation 3
  • Xbox 360
Max Payne 3 is the third installment in Rockstar Games Max Payne series and is set eight years after the events of the last installment.
8.5
Average User RatingOut of 4544 User Ratings
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Developed by:
Rockstar Studios
Published by:
Rockstar Games
Genres:
3D, Action, Shooter, Team-Based, Third-Person
Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
Mature
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Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Partial Nudity, Strong Language, Strong Sexual Content, Use of Drugs and Alcohol