Max Payne 3 Preview

Max Payne 3

It’s been a long, long time since gamers last got a look into the life of Max Payne. Still tormented by guilt over his failure to protect his wife and infant daughter at the beginning of the original game, Payne has decided to finally leave New York City for São Paulo, Brazil to work in private security. While things end up going from bad to worse for poor old Max, the series itself looks to be getting a great new start on this console generation with Max Payne 3.

For those who yearn for the bright lights and skyline of New York, they need not worry. The game will open on the five boroughs as one of Max’s friends comes to the troubled former law enforcement officer’s apartment to propose that he move on. It won’t just be story cutscenes in the city though, as Max and his buddy are then set upon by organized criminals that want the duo dead. In typical Max Payne fashion, a bullet-time-filled shootout ensues.

Just like its predecessors, Max Payne 3 prides itself upon the slowing down of time in order to deliver a more Matrix/John Woo style of action so that the player can revel in their precise kills. Using the super slow motion will once again drain a bullet time meter, set in the bottom right corner of the screen and settled next to the outline of a body. The outline itself serves as Max’s health meter while the number contained within informs the player how much of the series’ painkillers that he or she has on hand.

Max Payne 3

The action itself will take place in several open areas typical of shooter or action games, with exception to the opening hallway altercation in New York City. Players will need to take cover in order to stay alive, but would be wise not to linger. The AI in Max Payne 3 is smart enough to find out where Payne is hiding and how to use that to their advantage, so quickly moving from cover to cover and intelligently managing your bullet time will be crucial.

When the last enemy in an area is laid to waste, another staple of the series will present itself: slow-motion kill cam. Players will be able to see the final rounds fly through their foe in bullet time as the camera then speeds back up to watch him ragdoll to the ground. There’s one other occasion where slow motion occurs, and that’s during the game’s action set pieces. An example I was shown during my demo session had Payne sliding down a suspended crane inside a warehouse as he unleashed automatic rounds into his surprised targets below.

Rockstar is doing its best to show its attention to detail with the game’s physics. The developer has given Max Payne 3 the life-size motion capture treatment in order to give movement and body transitioning a sense of weight and momentum. If Max tries to strafe from one side to another, he’ll have to plant and stop himself in order to send his body in the other direction. It’s something that few developers bother to regard, and it helps give the game a more realistic feel.

Max will also be limited to the use of just a pistol and one other weapon at all times; and when that other weapon runs out of ammo, Payne will reasonably ditch it as it no longer has any use. Additionally, whatever weapon he is carrying when entering a cutscene will appear in his hands during the entire cinematic, keeping the player immersed in what he or she is doing.

Max Payne 3

Fans of the series will remember that both Max Payne and Max Payne 2 used comic strips in order to convey the graphic novel theme that Remedy and Rockstar were going for. Though cinematic scenes do make their way into Max Payne 3 for a more compelling narrative, it still respects its roots. Mixed in with the full cutscenes will be panel sections that aim to further Max’s latest tale in the form of a motion comic.

Players shouldn’t look for much exploration within Payne’s trials of blood in New York and São Paulo, as the game consists of mostly straight-up action and cinematics. Come out of a cutscene, enter a firefight. Finish a firefight, enter the next cutscene that will take you straight to the next firefight. This lack of gameplay downtime may let down some gamers, but others may find it to be a nice way of trimming the fat, keeping to what made the first two Max Payne games successful.

And for those who wonder: No, the game will not have any endlessly crying babies in drug-fueled hallucinations. It’s another improvement of what appears to be a solid revival of a game protagonist whose last heyday was during the age of the PlayStation 2 and Xbox. Gamers will be able to find out for themselves when Max Payne 3 releases March 2012 for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC.


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Author: Mike Murphy View all posts by
Mike has been playing games for over two decades. His earliest memories are of shooting ducks and stomping goombas on NES, and over the years, the hobby became one of his biggest passions. Mike has worked with GamerNode as a writer and editor since 2009, giving you news, reviews, previews, a voice on the VS Node Podcast, and much more.

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