It’s been quite some time since we last saw Max Payne, and things seemed to have taken a turn for the worst. The story begins with Max in his apartment, drinking heavily and not caring about anyone or anything. Since the death of his wife and daughter, Max spends most of his time down at the local bar or in his rundown apartment filled with empty Chinese takeouts and beer bottles. His only remaining friends are the pills he always keeps close to him.
On one of his usual drinking nights, Max is caught up in a series of events with an ex-friend from the academy. These events cause Max to leave his usual cold and snowy surroundings and head off to the hot and lively city of São Paulo. It is here that Max is hired as a security man for one of the wealthiest families, the Brancos. As you can imagine, when Max is involved, things don’t go quite as smoothly as they should. Everything begins to spiral out of control, which sends Max off on one his bullet-filled adventures.
Max Payne 3 features an extensive single player story that contains the main plot, Max’s involvement with the Brancos and a few flashbacks that help explain why Max is currently in São Paulo. As you would expect, Max will be getting his hands very dirty, and will spend most of his time shooting up various locales such as the slums of the city, helicopter landing pads and abandoned buildings. With such a huge choice of weapons, ranging from the iconic dual-pistols to an explosive RPG, there is going to be bullets flying in all directions. This means Max is going to need some serious skills if he doesn’t want to add to the bodies littering the floor beside his feet. Luckily, this is where Bullet Time comes in to allow Max to truly demonstrate his abilities.
By killing enemies in the regular fashion, Max’s Adrenaline meter will rise and allow him to enter a state with heightened senses. Whilst in Bullet Time mode, the world around Max will move in slow motion, and give him the opportunity to shoot at several bad guys before they have a chance to raise their own weapons. Max is also able to perform some death-defying leaps of faith, where he can also dodge bullets as well as finish off his opponents. Should Max take a few too many bullets, providing he has some of his precious painkillers at hand, he will also enter Bullet Time and be given the chance to kill the last person to put a bullet into him and be able to recover.
The one thing that is important to remember when controlling Max is that staying in cover is not going to help you that much. Unlike many other shooters, where cover is your best friend, it is much easier and quicker to take out a room full of guys if you are right in the middle of it. You’ll know when you’ve cleared a certain section because a wonderful kill cam will activate and you will be see the last person you shot blown to bits by the full clip of bullets you have fired into them.
The different locations you will be visiting have been beautifully crafted and you’ll often find yourself stopping for a moment to take it all in. You’ll be spending time in the sun, snow and rain whilst meeting many interesting people along the way. All of these characters and locales are brought over to the multiplayer where, once you have finished the single player, you’ll likely be spending most of your time.
The first thing you’ll want to do when starting multiplayer is to customise your character. There are many different options to choose from to make your character look aesthetically different, but the most important part is your loadout. With such a large variety of weapons, armour and equipment you are going to have to be careful what you equip yourself with as your character has a weight limit that will affect health regeneration and running speed. This stops players from equipping themselves with all the best weapons and forces you to build a loadout that will complement the multiplayer mode you're in.
There are many different modes to choose from in the game’s multiplayer. From your standard deathmatch and team deathmatch to the more interesting Payne Killer mode, which sees the first person to get a kill become Max Payne and the first person to die become Passos, Max’s partner throughout the single player. Both of these people receive some buffs that increase their health and weapons, but they must survive for as long as possible.
The most interesting multiplayer mode is Gang Wars, which is a team-based mode spread across five events. Each of these events can be any of the regular game modes including deathmatch, taking checkpoints, picking up bags and securing them or having to protect a fellow teammate while trying to take out your own target. You will gain points for each of the events your team manages to win and this will give you a head start in the fifth event, which decides who wins the Gang War. This mode is a lot more fun and rewarding than the other regular modes on offer and it encourages people to get into Crews (a new clan system that has been integrated into the Rockstar Social Club) to compete properly.
Rockstar has managed to implement what many would think to be impossible by adding Bullet Time into the game's multiplayer, and I am happy to say that it works surprisingly well. You can use Bullet Time when you have killed a certain amount of enemies, and once activated it will put the effect on you and your target, which means you have to choose wisely when to use it.
Each time a friend or foe is killed in battle their body will remain on the floor for you to loot. This loot can be a variety of things, from money to buy new goodies for your character, painkillers to keep you going for longer, ammo for your weapons or adrenaline. Adrenaline can be used to give your character or team a temporary buff, such as the ability to see where everyone is on the map, infinite ammo for a short while or a handy grenade launcher that could turn the tide of a losing battle.
If you need a welcome break from the multiplayer you can also run through the single player again, but in Arcade Mode. This mode can test yours skills in one of two sub modes – Score Attack or New York Minute. Score Attack is exactly what it says on the tin and allows you to build up a score for each enemy you kill, whereas New York Minute is a fan favourite from the original two games. In this mode you will start with one minute on the clock and you must push forward whilst killing your enemies as fast as possible to add additional time to the clock. Both of these modes are a true test to your skills and make the game highly re-playable.
It’s safe to say that Max Payne 3 is a fantastic game and with a hefty single player and extensive multiplayer it will keep you entertained for hours and hours. The story is gripping and will have you wondering what happens next, and with the integration of crews to the multiplayer there is even more reason to make regular visits to the city of São Paulo.