Max Payne 3: Great If You Like Being Irritated And Dying

The bullet time is impressive and the gore comes thick and fast, but the negatives outweigh the positives and leave you feeling that this is a sequel too far...
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The bullet time is impressive and the gore comes thick and fast, but the negatives outweigh the positives and leave you feeling that this is a sequel too far...


It’s a bit rubbish being a video game at the minute. If you’re not part of franchise, or wander from the madding crowd of first person shooters and MMORPG then, chances are, you’ll languish in a Poundland somewhere, hoping that a nostalgic individual desperate for that copy of 1997’s Theme Hospital walks by. It’s difficult to sell things that people don’t know they’ll enjoy, and at almost £40 a pop, consumers aren’t eager to waste money on something that they’ll only hastily put on eBay before the public interest is lost.

As any gamer knows, there’s nothing more galling than shelling out perfectly good beer money on a sub-standard release that isn’t good enough to be sold on a V-Tech ThinkPad, let alone on a state of the art console. Games that are so bad that even educationally stunted toddlers wouldn’t give them the time of day. Sadly, on the face of it, Max Payne 3 looks like it might just be another example of stringing out sequels, mainly because no one has really wanted another Max Payne for years, even the recent mobile release was buggy and had more jagged edges than an orgy in a seedy polygon factory.

It would be nice to say that the new Max Payne release (for PS3 and XBox) is worth every penny of your money, but unfortunately it lacks some of the most important features that any next generation console game should have: the most important of which is the truly baffling decision to have bizarre flashes of colour shoot across the screen.

Like Hilary Clinton touching her toes in a two piece, sort of distracting

Rockstar, the legendary creator of the genre-defining Grand Theft Auto series, have always had an individual take on how their games should look; an ultra-realistic interpretation of the seedier parts of America, which carries through to Max Payne, without doubt. But instead of being a gritty environment that makes you want to take a long shower and think hard about your life for a while, it has some weird flashes of colour in the cutscenes and during the gameplay. This distracting, almost malfunctioning 3D projector look, can really take the enjoyment out of the whole affair. If someone wanted to watch Rocky Horror Show, would you really want to see weird, extraneous graphics that would totally take away from the film? Like Hilary Clinton touching her toes in a two piece, sort of distracting.

Subtly taking some of the more accessible features of The Matrix and implementing them into a John Woo meets Jean Claude Van Damme way has always been a major selling point of the Max Payne franchise. ‘Bullet Time’ is an interesting concept in practice. Gliding through the air while frantically relieving Brazilian kidnappers of their brains is a brilliant way to spend an afternoon, and Rockstar have worked hard to bring more realism to our Woo antics, making us slam into walls more times than Shia LaBoeuf and Lindsay Lohan. But however engrossing diving around a discotheque might be the first few times, it gets old quickly. Maybe we ruined it for ourselves by doing it too much, like chocolate, or masturbation, or maybe we were doing it wrong, but we found ourselves reverting to generic dodge and shoot tactics after a while.

Plot wise, it’d be easy to grade Max Payne 3 poor to middling

The control system is another area where Max Payne falls down compared to other releases. Sometimes the frantic fingering you need to employ can make you look like you’re Shiva reading ‘Fifty Shades Of Grey’, and can resort in more dodge and shoot tactics. Which, again, for those of you who have the attention span of a giant knitted knat, is just like every other game on the market.

Plot wise, it’d be easy to grade Max Payne 3 poor to middling. After a few chapters everything seems to devolve into the same ‘walk a bit, shoot a bit, walk a bit more, panic because your health is really low, shoot a bit, die.’ Repetition is never, ever endearing, especially when you pay for the pleasure. It might be how Jedward make a disgustingly popular career, but we’re better than that aren’t we?

Speaking of dying, I’ve never died so often in a game before, and I played the notoriously difficult Return To Zork as a child. This could be because I’m inherently rubbish at games, or (and this is what I’m going to tell everyone) there’s no definite way to determine whether you’re on the brink of death or could happily go for a stroll through TK Maxx. Yes, there’s a handy silhouette that fills up like blood when you receive damage, but, unlike Call Of Duty (or any other ptoo ptoo game) there’s no representation of this onscreen. This results in making sparing glances at the bottom right hand corner and then jumping back into the gameplay. And probably dying shortly afterward.

So, in summary, if you like your games to be so irritating that the initial honeymoon period of trying out all the features of the game is marred by having to turn the whole thing off and put into the freezer until your rage subsides, then this is the game for you. But if you want to make it to the very end, and tell us that the weird rainbow effect had some sort of relevance to the plot, perhaps Max had been snorting a ground up My Little Pony and this whole thing was a Mattel infused hallucination, then why not jot it down under here?

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