Max Payne 3 Review – Or: More Noir Than A Black Hole With The Lights Turned Off

Yell! Magazine’s review of Max Payne 3:

The game sashayed into my office one night. The box was covered in lurid artwork. Its DVD was all sharp curves and a sharper tongue. “My name is Max Payne 3,” it said in a sultry voice, the kind that launched a thousand game reviews. “You remind me of an old addiction, one I haven’t seen in over nine years.” My Whisky-fueled words were brimming with bitterness, it had been almost a decade since I’d last wrapped my hands around Max Payne’s controller. I thought I was over my schoolboy infatuation with his slow-motion gameplay, with the ridiculously awesome noir narration… and here he was, pummeling his way back into my life with all the subtlety of a Steve Jobs press conference. “Fine!” I said. “I’ll pop you into my Playstation… but it’s only the one time! Aw, God! Of all the Internet websites in the world… why did you have to walk into mine?”

Ok. Fine. So your faithful reviewer totally sucks at coming up with decent film noir narration. We can’t all be Raymond Chandler. Truth be told, neither are the writers for all three Max Payne titles. The narrative contained therein can never truly be referred to as great, but the over-the-top and at times snicker-inducing words that chronicle Max’s adventures are part of the franchise’s charm. Gamers have patiently waited since 2003’s The Fall Of Max Payne for a new entry in the series and Max Payne 3 as finally arrived to sate their hunger. Remedy Entertainment, maker of the first two entries, is gone, replaced by Rockstar’s Vancouver branch. Is Max still a dashing noir figure with a full head of hair or has time away from consoles and a change in developers conspired to make him a chrome-domed, pill-popping alcoholic?

This is Yell! Magazine’s review of the long awaited Max Payne 3, currently available for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. PC owners will have to wait till May 29 to indulge in a little of the old ultra violence. For review purposes, the PS3 version was used. For health concerns, a bucket of Dramamine was kept nearby to protect against gratuitous slow motion and Tony Scott on avid cutscene editing.

The Story

In the intervening years between Max Payne 2 and 3, the titular hero as retired to an island paradise where he surrounds himself with beautiful women and drinks mojitos all day. Nah, just kidding. His life is in the crapper. His family is still six feet under… unless there’s a way to unlock zombie mode and nobody told me? No? Max is fat, no longer a cop, binge drinking himself into the grave, and working shitty jobs to earn booze money.

Max Payne 3 screenshot
He’s also developed a taste for Hawaiian shirts. Clearly the sign of a deranged individual.

It’s all a bit much unless you’ve played the previous games, in which case you’ll agree that Max has earned a little break from such concerns as hygiene. As the game opens, Max is working security for a wealthy Sao Paulo businessman. That’s “businessman” in big ass quotation marks since Max’s employer is clearly up to something shady. The plot takes a few knowing winks at Tony Scott’s Man On Fire: battered professional takes a job watching a wealthy individual’s family, something bad happens, cue explosions. In Max Payne 3, it’s the trophy wife that gets kidnapped under Max’s nose.

Max Payne 3 screenshot
Dakota Fanning was hotter. Crap, I said that out loud, didn’t I?

Unsurprisingly, it’s up to Max to pick himself up off the floor, shave his head in a stereotypical tough-guy-has-reached-his-boiling-point montage, strap on a pair of pistols, and cause some mayhem. Max Payne 3’s storyline isn’t going to win any awards for originality, but the writers consistently refuse to plant their tongues in their cheek and play the story straight. Sadly, there’s a massive overuse of every single editing technique under the sun during the cutscenes that important moments lose whatever weight they may have otherwise had. Shaky cam, scan lines, sudden appearance of grainy film stock – Max Payne 3’s cut scenes look a bit like somebody at Rockstar got a My First Editing Suite for Christmas.

Still, if you like darker than dark stories that aren’t afraid to graphically showcase the evil that men do, Max Payne does offer a decent trip. The Brazilian setting, with its scorching sun, makes for a nice change of pace from the constant nighttime scenes in the first two games.

Read about the Max Payne 3 gameplay, presentation and verdict after the jump…

Max Payne 3 PS3 Cover Art
Yell! Rating (x/5 Skulls):
Published by:
Rockstar Games
Developed by:
Rockstar Studios
Year Released:
May 15, 2012
Also Available On:
PC, Xbox 360
Official URL:
Max Payne 3
Pages: 1 2

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