Before I start, I need to let everyone know about a problem I had regarding MP3. It’s not a problem with the actual game, but rather a problem that caused me to only access some of the game’s content. Due to the high price of games, I often use Red Box to rent games instead of buying them. If you don’t know what Red Box is, it’s a rental service where you pay a few dollars a day to rent games or movies. Not knowing much about the Max Payne series, I figured renting it for a few days would suffice. However, I was unaware of the fact that it was a 2-disc game. I was playing through the single player when suddenly a message popped up that said “please insert disc 2.” I sat in my chair utterly confused, knowing that I was only given one disc. What I figured had happened was that Red Box was either cheap and only rented out the first disc, or someone stole the second disc. I was still able to play through a large portion of single player and all of multiplayer, but I figured I should let everyone know before they read the review, in case some of what I say is inaccurate.
As the story of Max Payne begins, we are introduced to Max, who is living in a dirty New Jersey apartment. I haven’t played the previous games, so I’m completely unaware of why he is in his current depressed and lonely state. He looks like a mess and seems to be using drugs and alcohol to forget his past. The game throws the player into Max’s past through a series of flashbacks, during which Max gives commentary (Max will even throw in a line such as “I needed to move quickly!” if the player takes too long or is standing around). He describes his past job, where a hired gun, protecting important individuals and families. In one case (The first mission), he has to protect a rich Brazilian family. They might have a lot of money, but the town they live in doesn’t. Most of the citizens are poor, and many are involved in gang activity. Max learns that there is a threat within the family’s house, and the family is in danger. Max must then take out these threats (gang members), and thus the gameplay begins. The player is immediately introduced to the signature feature of the Max Payne series: bullet time. Bullet time is a gameplay feature where the player slows down time in order to dodge incoming bullets, as well as shoot his enemies with more accuracy. I won’t give away too much more of the story, but it should seem obvious that something goes wrong with this family, which then causes Max to have to track down these bad guys in order to fix everything.
MP3 absolutely shines when it comes to story progression. The way cutscenes are laid out made me feel like I was watching a movie. Multiple camera angles on the screen at once, flashing back and forth, all seemed like something out of a hollywood blockbuster. MP3 also sports crystal clear graphics, along with realistic shadowing and lighting, allowing the player to feel as if they are right there in the action. I was also very happy with the fact that the game auto saves all the time. If you happen to die, not only will the loading screen be finished in a matter of seconds, but you will practically start off right where you died. With all of the positive aspects of MP3, the game also has several things that can get a little annoying. For one, the dialogue can be a bit taxing at times. The other two games might have been the same way, but by the time I played 3 or 4 missions, I was already tired of the cheesy lines and clichés that Max says. One example I can remember is when he’s investigating a gang-infested location, and he says “this place had more smoke and mirrors than a strip club locker room.” Quotes like these, although effective in small quantities, became annoying after hearing them every five minutes.
After playing through some of the single player, I moved onto multiplayer. It was extremely hard to get used to, with little to no instruction as to how to effectively play the game, as well as how the leveling up system works. I basically had to play until I figured it out. On top of that, I realized that the best player on the team was always the player with the highest level, and it wasn’t because they were the most skilled, but rather because the items they were able to unlock were incredibly greater than what a level 1 character had. Of course I started to get a hang of it once I was able to unlock items myself, but the game was still not completely balanced. After unlocking a couple levels, I started to enjoy the multiplayer a bit more, even though I still died a lot (Which I guess, in reality, is the case with most multiplayer games, but I still found it annoying). The integration of bullet time into a multiplayer experience is something that I never would have expected. It works very well, and is something that no other game has done effectively.
Overall, I loved the story, as well as the gameplay. It’s an incredibly fun experience that I would recommend to others, and although it had negative aspects, the good definitely seemed to outweigh the bad. I would give Max Payne 3 an 8 out of 10.