Max Payne is back and he’s as mental as ever. I loved the first two although they feel like distant memories now. I do still remember certain scenes from them though and that’s impressive given that the second one came out nine years ago and I have already forgotten most of last week. It’s possible that is because I played them both twice as they were so brilliant.
Here’s the plot:
Max Payne is now retired and is drinking all the time in New Jersey. This seems like an admirable way to spend retirement to me but apparently it isn’t good. Max is then persuaded to move to Sao Paolo in Brazil to work as a bodyguard to a rich family. He thinks it will be a breeze – wet nursing some rich types at cocktail parties. Unfortunately for Max (but not for us the player – his godlike controllers), he is massively wrong. Thanks to corruption and dastardly plots and so forth, it turns into a regular killfest. Actually it isn’t that regular, it is a mega ultra uber killefest.
As a huge fan of the franchise, I was worried that they might change things too much. Not that worried though, this is Rockstar we are talking about, those guys and (probably) gals are legends. But gone are the comic book cut-scenes, which is a bit sad as they were quite cool. Also Max is a bit older and chubbier and is now in a sunny, colorful place as opposed to the slightly monochrome world of New York in winter. Consequently it doesn’t feel quite as noir as previous incarnations.
However, James McCaffrey is back as the voice of Payne and he is as cynical and gritty as ever. Although there are no comic book bits, there are some awesome cut scenes. Visually, there are a lot of movie edit effects as used by Tony Scott. Unlike Tony Scott’s more recent output (Domino for example), it isn’t massively overused to the point where you feel dizzy. Just enough to look cool.
One thing that hasn’t changed thankfully, is bullet-time. This was one of the prime things that set the original apart and remains brilliant. If anything, it is even better. Although it was never always the greatest tactic to simply leap through a door, whack on the bullet-time and blow the shit out of everyone, it still remains one of the most fun things to do in any video game.
The gameplay is awesome. Max is easy to control and the adventure and sets are great. It is a very linear game but as a pay-off, some of the set pieces are awesome with sequences better than a lot of movies.
The multiplayer seems fun and has been hailed by some as ‘a game changer’, although people hail things with that epithet way too often for my liking. You can form gangs and even use bullet-time which is pretty mental. I only played a few games of team deathmatch and unlike a lot of other online shooters, I was matched against beginners. Whom I suspect hadn’t just finished the campaign because they were awful. It’s possible I was brilliant but going by early online forays in other games, that seems unlikely.
There are various other modes for replayability such as harder settings and ‘New York Minute’. This latter option was available on the older games as well and is essentially a race against time with bonus points for headshots and general coolness like: hitting bullet-time, leaping off a balcony and killing everyone before you hit the ground.
To conclude: I was a massive Max Payne fan and I still am. The mood may have shifted slightly to a bastard offspring of gritty noir and Tony Scott, but it still works. Above all, it’s fun. The first time you find yourself leaping into the fray, shifting into bullet-time with rounds tracing through the air, you will find yourself grinning. Especially as the final shot in a battle always follows the bullet to its bloody destination. In slow motion. That’s just class.
Two videos for this one because you’ve all been good. First up here is a gameplay trailer which shows you some bullet-time in case you have wasted your life and haven’t played the first two games.
And to conclude, the trailer: