Summer is a great time for action games, and Rockstar delivers with Max Payne 3. At first, I’ll admit, I was a little weary of the franchise’s revival. But fear not, this is a solid example of great story-telling mixed with edge of your seat gaming. Max travels to Brazil hoping to get a fresh start, but it’s never that easy when trouble finds you. By day he’s a bodyguard for the over-privileged and by night he’s either attending the most luxurious dance clubs against his will or preferably drinking alone in his hotel room. The story is very dramatic and flows flawlessly with the game play. After popping the disc into my tray, only wanting to play for maybe an hour or two, I was finished with the first act in no time and there wasn’t a single pause. Now yes, the campaign is on the short side, clocking in at 6-8 hours, but those are the most action packed hours you will find around. The game jumps around on its timeline very often as well, so you get to experience many sides to Max’s character. Many beautiful locations are to be found throughout the adventure as well.
While you have gripping action at every turn, that leaves little room for exploration. There are definitely collectables: clues scattered around to lead you in the right direction, and golden gun pieces to, well, make your gun nice and shiny! These are rarely hidden and usually just require you to look around the opposite hallway, but that’s fine with me. What’s a little annoying though is how much of the story is told in Portuguese. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for authenticity and I truly felt like Max when I had no idea what the enemy was saying, but the option for translations in the subtitles would have been nice for my second playthrough. After completing the story, you have the option to replay the game in arcade mode. Essentially you have one minute to finish the level on hard difficulty, scoring kills to gain yourself extra time. This adds a rushed sense to the usual cover based combat and can get quite difficult in later chapters, especially without checkpoints.
After completing the single player, it’s only natural to see what the multiplayer has to offer. Unfortunately, there isn’t much to find this time around. With the lack of an actual world we’re left with pretty much just Team Deathmatch. There are two other modes though: Payne Killer, in which players switch off being Max Payne and having “1 vs all” matches, and Gang Wars, which contain round based objectives to win. Gang Wars is the best mode by far letting you play out mini-scenarios as you grab bags, capture points, and assassinate targets. Although in the end it’s still just “winner takes all” Deathmatch, which negates the whole point. But were you honestly expecting a good multiplayer? Not really. We came for the awesome cinematic moments and gripping storytelling, proving Rockstar still runs the show for video game dramas.