Support Sid, click to buy via us...
Max Payne 3 promises to hit the series' classic notes, but it's the determination to be a hard core no-fuss shooter that make this an interesting proposition.
Max Payne has come a long way since we last played it, the character as much as the game. Having been disgraced and kicked out the NYPD he is now an out of shape alcoholic.
Eight years since the previous Max Payne game is a long time by any measure, not least in the world of videogames. The original was developed by Remedy, who then spent the intervening years lavishing care and attention on Alan Wake 360/PS3 (and the recent XBLA follow up American Nightmare). Max Payne 3 360/PS3 is now an in house Rockstar game.
Max falls into an office job for millionaire Rodrigo Branco. Branco is soon being extorted for money through the kidnapping of his wife. As this unfolds we see the world through Max's eyes. In a similar way to Splinter Cell Conviction, backstory and information are woven into the fabric of the world. Only here it's limited to Max's intoxicated view of things.
When the pay-off goes wrong we find ourselves in the middle of a minor war. All in a day's work for Max of old, but the new more rotund Payne takes a while to get used to it.
The game promises to walk this line between the broken hero and washed up has been. It will be interesting to see how close to the edge Rockstar are willing to push their titular protagonist.
As the action continues it becomes clear that this is another game for those with a strong constitution. Alongside questions over Max's social descent, Rockstar will also need to square the sheer violence of it all.
The nuts and bolts are there for this to build into a genuinely interesting game. Max controls in a believable way, not as nimble as he used to be of course, but still with plenty of game left in him.
New in Max Payne 3 is a cover system. The first games opted to leave this out, preferring instead to let players work their own way through the environments opportunistically using choke points and safe havens. Implementing this lock-to-cover option in a way that doesn't hamper this free-flowing play style will test Rockstar to the limit.
Of course, the Bullet Time effect makes a return -- it wouldn't be Max Payne without now would it? Press the right stick down slows time and delivers spectacular head shots and dives to safety. How essential this is to the game is still unclear, but it certainly provides another opportunity to up the visceral impact of the action not to mention gore.
Even with the changes, Max Payne 3 promises to stick to its roots. Unlike more recent third person shooters (Uncharted and the like) there is a lot less pandering to the player. Max Payne will be a hard core shooting game aimed squarely at hard core players.
For instance there is no rejuvenating health, and weapons have to be managed carefully if you are to survive. This promises to lend Max Payne 3 a much more cautious feel. It's no good charging into a gun fight to find you are out numbered. You will need to think and plan before you act.
From what we've seen already Max Payne 3 looks like it will be a distinctive game. What remains to be seen is whether this is because of it's hard as nails gameplay and gore, or whether something more interesting can be achieved that engages with the substance abuse and violent themes once again on the gaming table.
Around this core innovation Brink pulls in successes from other games.
With so many different perspectives it can be hard to know where to start - a little like walking into a crowded pub. Sorry about that.
But so far we've not found a way to streamline our review output - there's basically too much of it. So, rather than dilute things for newcomers we have decided to live with the hubbub while helping new readers find the columnists they will enjoy.
Our columnists each focus on a particular perspective and fall into one of the following types of gamers: