Rockstars' pill swallowing hero drowns his sorrows another bloody tale of stylistic drama and slow motion bullets.

No one does characterization and dramatized action better than Rockstar; and 'Max Payne 3' is just another example of their craftsmanship. Returning to the “birth” of the cinematic shooter (their words) 'Max Payne 3' lives up to the hype with its weaving narrative and fast paced shoot-outs. The original and its follow-up both ushered a movement towards narrative based action gaming, and in number three, Max does even more for the franchise by changing up its dark city streets for the tropical vista of Sao Paulo (for the most part.) Like the brown liquid that Max overindulges in, some things are better when aged.

For a comparison, Max has a lot in common with another troubled hero in 'Sam Fisher.' Like Ubisoft's redirection in 'Splinter Cell: Conviction,' the action is more varied while keeping the tale predominant. 'Max Payne 3' is as modern as action games come. Stylish, sophisticated with super tight controls and a thick gritty storyline. The staples are all here; the gruff one liners from 'James McCaffrey' and the “noir” stylistics (although it has been lessened) along with the iconic bullet time feature returns, which isn't too "in your face" like you might have thought. Adding even more are the improved physics and detailed animations that help each bullet feel like its really connecting. Reminder: 'Max Payne 3' is a "M"ature title and when the bullets hit their target in slow motion, “Max” gets bloody. It's not 'Solider of Fortune: Payback,' but it still has the gore levels up'd.

The story picks up with Max looking (or rather, being forced into) a change. Leaving New York behind for Sao Paulo Max's new job as a personal bodyguard of sorts is refreshing revision. The painkillers and booze are still relevant, but its not a focus like it was previously. Rather then Max's inner struggle, the activities in Sao Paulo take president. In the sun, the political and playboy lifestyles of the Branco family gets deep into the nasty when Rodrigo Branco's trophy wife, Fabiana is kidnapped. A kidnapping, an army of bad guys and all the drama of the wealthy make for an exciting run. Fans of the prior adventures will not be disappointed. While 'Max Payne 3' might not be completely original in selected points, but it is more than good enough for an action videogame.


The controls are much the same. The locked on targeting, slow motions gunplay and big action set pieces are all constant. This carries on with more stylistic shooting and bullet camera. For an old guy, Max can still move with the best of them. A new 'Last Man Standing' feature has also been added making last minute saves possible. Health is still handled the same and the difficulty feels right to get experts or novice gamers introduced to some heart pumping moments. If you have ever wanted the perfect example of a fluid action shooter; here it is.

Graphically Max is filled with every gradient trick in the book. The art direction is a lot different because the old “noir” thick black static panels have been replaced with a more fluid feel that comes complete with lots of colour and dynamic camera angels. The RAGE engine is powering this bad boy, and just like Rockstars' endeavours prior, the amount of animations, the quality and the realistic physics helps make “Max” feel more real. Keeping with this sense of “real,” no wasted space is untouched by an artists hands. “Max” is filled with an outstanding amount of detail, and the environments that host these exquisite details are equally polished. Even if they don't always feel too original (night club, new york streets, stadium, etc,) it works within the context of the plot.


Decisively "Max" is no longer just a single-player experience. Thanks to a new 'Arcade Mode' and a full online “Multiplayer” mode, 'Max Payne 3' is packed. The "Arcade" section is basically a re-playable run on the story missions with the objective to rack up points via sharp shooting and kill streaks. It's your normal take on that feature that works well within the framework. There is an additional mode called 'New York Minute' that is a hectic speed-run styled match up with a timer ticking down. This mode is unlocked after you finish the main story, so expect to wait a bit before you get into this anxiety bundle of fun.

The online multiplayer (yes, online multiplayer) feels oddly natural; although it shouldn't be too surprising because "Max" is a shooter after all. Think of it as Max Payne with friends, which rightfully makes for an extremely satisfying and high paced online gundown. The third person perspective and special “bullet time” touches really help the online multiplayer feel like its own. This is no dumbed down entry either, it's complete with upgrades, character customization, ranking up, perks, etc... really, everything you would expect from a online venture from Rockstar. In a nutshell, 2 to 16 Max Payne look-a-likes running around shooting up each other... yea that sounds like fun, and it is.

The modes are kept to the standards with a couple variations on other standardized modes. First we have your deathmatch and team deathmatch offerings. Then a mode king-of-the-hill styled molded called 'Payne Killer' that is a like 'Dead Man Walking' in 'Max Payne 2.' The twist, real people, and with that addition you can have some great moments as Max and Passos scratch off the kills and earn points. Lastly is a selection named 'Gang War' is the core experience here. Using pieces from the single player story, shifting objectives create a dynamic experience that changes on the go. Having the outcome of each match change the next setting really works. Even if you get comfortable quick with the “shifting” its a nice switch up from straight ahead blasting. I'm sure Rockstar has surprised everyone here because 'Max Payne' really works as a multiplayer game.


'Max Payne 3' is a triumph; an action game that is supremely polished, filled with adrenaline pumping gunplay and several memorable milestones. 'Max Payne 3' is an unforgiving masterpiece that only keeps giving you more. From the memorable story sequence to the newly added game modes; 'Max Payne 3' is now a fully rounded experience. While the multiplayer aspect might not grip you for a years long commitment, the tale of “Payne” is more than enough to justify the price tag. It's great to see Max back in the spotlight, let's just hope we don’t have to wait another 9 years for him to come around.

  • immersive storyline with above average production
  • characterization is on the top of its game; gotta love the Payne
  • gameplay mechanics are smoothly satisfying
  • graphics and audio are solid with great attention to detail
  • arcade and multiplayer modes extended the life of the game
  • fully function online mode; surprisingly addictive and fun
  • storyline has a lot of little cut-scenes that break up the action
  • the lack of think lined "Noir" feel might bother some
  • the gameplay doesn't switch it up... much
Quote: "Max Payne 3 is a triumph; an action game that is supremely polished, filled with adrenaline pumping gunplay and several memorable milestones."
Reviewed by DowntownJimmy | 05.22.12 | Platform Reviewed: Xbox 360

Similar Games: SC: Conviction (7.8) | Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception (8.4) | Max Payne 2 (9.0)


Max Payne 3

Rockstar Games

Rockstar Games


US Release
May '12


X360, PS3

Players 1
Onlinr MP 2-16
5.1 Surround
HD 720-1080p
D/L Content