Sneaky Gamer

Max Payne 3

The previous Max Payne games were considered masterpieces and I remember the hype surrounding the first game as we were introduced to Bullet Time for the first time in a video game. It was straight out of The Matrix and it was cool and special.

Max Payne 3 is somewhat of a cookie cutter type of game in so far as it closely mimics the style and gameplay of the first two. The difference is that this time around Rockstar are in charge and everything is full on and a lot more polished.

But having everything at break-neck pace and surrounded in massive amounts of detail isn't a guarantee for success. As much as the first two Max Payne games where low budget and a little buggy, they were also unique and easy to fall in love with.

The underlying characteristics of Max Payne himself are still present and that air of cockiness and quick wit humour are still very much part of the game. In fact they are sometimes the best part of the game and help to keep you entertained as the game moves on from scene to scene.

Bu the underlying problem is that the game does not move forward from where we left off in 2007. Video games have moved on, a lot, and you would expect a game like Max Payne to be bringing something special yet again. This expectation heightened by the potential that Rockstar bring to the table but it is quickly evident that maybe even they haven't all the answers when it comes to 3rd person shooters.

The story is simple enough. We find Max Payne at his lowest. The death of his family has hit hard and he is now body guarding for some high profile South American family. He's drinking on the job and his life doesn't seem to be worth much - not even for Max himself.

As luck would have it, bad guys strike and Max is thrown in at the deep-end to save the day.

The bullet time angle "Shoot Dodge" is still very entertaining to play and the best parts of the game are when the situation calls for the ultimate slow-motion leap through the air. But the game can't rely on this entirely and when you peel this back the game has a hard time keeping you engaged.

The environments are beautiful and the weapons more than adequate but there are a lot of issues that are too noticeable to ignore.

The enemy AI are hard to put down and although Shoot Dodge is fun in a room of a handful of bad guys, it just doesn't work when there are too many and they seem immune to taking 3 or 4 hits full and centre.

The cut-scenes are new and replace the cool comic book type story telling of old and you can see the influence of Rockstar here as we get a far better story telling experience and better continuity to boot. But none of this helps the gameplay.

The game is violent and there is a lot of detail available in the gore of enemy deaths. Maybe some would say that it's unnecessary but it's now part and parcel of Rockstar games of this type.

The multiplayer aspects are neat and there are a lot of options and game modes to choose from. Plenty of missions and even a multiplayer aspect that has a bearing on how the single player campaign plays out. It's typical Rockstar and maybe the games strongest element but you still get a feel that the game should be providing more, especially if you have played the other two games.

Rockstar have produced a good game in Max Payne 3. It's similar to the others and many will find that enough. I expect more from sequels and definitely more from Rockstar and I had high hopes for this. In the end it's just an average 3rd person shooter that could have been more. But of course Max Payne fans will love it.