So, I’ve played Max Payne 3 for a couple hours now. I haven’t touched the multi-player, and I doubt I will. I’m really enjoying this game; the dialogue grows on you fast and you want more, the setting is visceral, the character are simple and archetypal but fun to listen to, and the cut scenes reinforce all of it. Yes, this is quality production and everything about the presentation shines, delivering on the brilliant ability of Rockstar to create mood in every aspect of their storytelling, and the entire game reinforces the thesis of this title. Unfortunately, you have to get through the cumbersome and aggravating gunplay we’ve come to expect from Rockstar if you want to continue the enjoyable part of the Max Payne experience.
So, if you can get past frustrating shooting mechanics, poorly paced combat scenarios, and a difficulty that feels cheap, not challenging, then you can enjoy a great journey with Max. Of course, it’s not so great for him, and anyone who has watched the trailers or know the history of the protagonist can theorize on the story and setting. It’s nice to see a developer keep focusing on a different theme through all their titles and follow through, where most developers and publishers may shy away from this much focus on story. There will be plenty of players turned off by cut scenes reaching ten minutes in length (these people never dealt with Metal Gear Solid), but those that keep with it will be rewarded.
The story, mood, and dialogue all fit within the machismo commonly associated with action games, and it is a bit tiring to once again see a white male hailing from the Reagan 80s blasting through gangsters while delivering one-liners. The consistently helpless women and “everyone not like me is an asshole” mindset pervades, but it’s what we’ve come to expect from action-shooters (movie and game) and pretty much the entire video game industry. Still, Max Payne 3 delivers on what it sets to do, and it does it brilliantly - except for those damn firefights.