Max Payne 3 (PC) Review

By Athanasios 16.07.2021

Review for Max Payne 3 on PC

Poor, poor Max. While all of his adventures were quite successful, the series never really managed to became the household name Remedy wanted it to be, with the main reason, at least in this critic's opinion, being how the games... well, never really were that good to begin with. The developer, essentially a small studio, didn't have the resources to bring its IP to the next generation, and thus sold it to the publisher of the second instalment, the powerhouse that is Rockstar. So, stylish, slow-mo action, a strong noir atmosphere, a badass, hardboiled cop, AND a big budget to breathe new life to it all - that's ought to do it, right? Sadly, not only this feels like a completely different thing (and not in a good way), but it's not even a very enjoyable ride.

"Max Payne's journey through the night will continue," says Max Payne 2's credits. Wait, though. Didn't Max found peace in the finale? Apparently not. Well, it doesn't matter. As long as the actual game and storyline is good, this won't be an issue. The intro shows the hero in his new home, drowning the sorrow for the loss of his family in KONG whiskey and painkillers. It's a pretty dark and powerful one, and it sets the mood for the rest of the journey. Unfortunately, an hour in, and it's clear that Max Payne 3 can't hold a candle to its predecessors - and, no, the problem isn't how this plays differently than before.

Even Max Payne, the very first instalment, felt a bit barebones; way too simple in terms of mechanics. In other words, the series needed a change, and this offers it. As an example, players can now hide behind cover, which is something that yours truly (not a fun of cover mechanics) actually welcomed. Sadly, while finally being able to avoid incoming fire this way, while also having the ability to blindly shoot from your hiding spot, this proves to be a poor addition. Like before, and maybe even more so, your means of stopping the assaults of your enemies are incredibly limited.

Screenshot for Max Payne 3 on PC

Knock-knock. Who's there? Bullet Time! Once again, this will be your main tool of the trade. In fact, it's hard to imagine anyone completing Max Payne 3 without slowing down time any chance they get. In all honesty, this ability went from "helpful power that's cool to use," to "absolute necessity." The game throws tons of enemies at you (maybe more than ever before), and while they don't act like the super-accurate bots of the original, they can still bring you down pretty easily, cover or no cover. In other words, Bullet Time, Bullet Time, and then more Bullet Time.

Initially, this won't be a problem. Yes, Bullet Time is a commodity that runs out too fast, so you can't overuse it, but when you actually do use it, time slows down to a still, and if accurate enough, you'll be able to kill entire teams with a bunch of well placed headshots. Trouble is, the whole game revolves around that, and that alone: enter a room, slow down time, kill as many as possible, and then shoot any survivors without the use of Bullet Time. It's excruciatingly repetitive, especially when enemies suddenly become far more resilient, even when shot to the head - despite the absence of a helmet.

Despite Rockstar being... well, Rockstar, this lacks the polish of the first two, Remedy-made instalments. Movement feels needlessly heavy, shoot-dodging (side-jumping and shooting in slow mo) is more cool-looking than practical, the fact that you can do melee takedowns is never mentioned in the tutorial-esque first chapter, and the weapon inventory system is such a mess that's it's actually hard to explain how it even works. Also, why the bloody heck does Max changes his weapon in cut-scenes, leaving him with a lousy pistol, rather than his trusty double Uzis?!

Screenshot for Max Payne 3 on PC

Is the game that bad? Not really. It definitely has its moments... but it sort of runs out of steam way too soon - and the main reason is probably how it's all structured. Without any intention to exaggerate, the whole gameplay loop can be summed up in Max getting close to a door, which initiates a cut-scene showing him entering a room, after which he proceeds to shoot all the bad guys, and gets close to the next door, adding another cut-scene to the pile. The cut-scenes don't show something special. They don't move the story forward. It's just Max opening the door. Every. Single. Time.

The developer must have thought that its cut-scenes were pieces of art, as you can't even exit the game while one is playing - but no, these are just a bad way of letting this title load the required assets, but they happen way too often, over-segmenting the adventure, something that greatly mars the experience... or Rockstar just wanted this to be a movie/game hybrid, which makes sense, as this is a Max Payne title, and the cinematic feel is definitely part of the equation. Sadly, it misses the mark, despite this being a product of a much, much higher budget.

Screenshot for Max Payne 3 on PC

Sure. The animation is top notch. From the super expensive, squeaky clean villas, and fancy nightclubs, to the dirty favelas, and strip bars within, the attention to detail is fantastic, and the way battles "redecorate" the place looks cool. Other than that, though, this tries too hard to be a stylish movie-esque game, with an overreliance on shaky cameras, distorted flashes of colour, and needless comic book-like panels that pop up every now and then, in a desperate attempt to pay homage to what came before. The difference is that Max Payne, and even Max Payne 2, knew what they were doing. This doesn't.

This becomes evident in Max's bazillion monologues, which, once again, form the basis of the narrative. Problem is, whereas the original Max was a cool badass despite the cheesiness of it all, this new Max takes himself way too seriously, and tries so hard to show the player how miserable his existence is, that he simply ends up looking… well, cheesy. No, actually he is something even worse than cheesy: he is forgettable. This guy is now a generic action hero, complete with a bulkier built, shaved head, and Jamaican shirt. Err, wait a tick. Max-freaking-Payne now wears a Jamaican shirt?!

Well, the threequel follows Max in Brazil, where he now works as private security for a bunch of rich filth. Last time this critic checked, the sunny city of Brazil wasn't exactly the go to location for a Noir game to take place in. In other words, if you loved the atmosphere of the original, prepare to be disappointed. Wait, though. Maybe the change in scenery has its own unique charm, correct? Sadly, no. While the attention to detail is worthy of applause, this dark, gritty, and realistic world, is actually less immersive than the, almost Frank Miller-esque, comic book one of the original.

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There's a bigger problem than how this has a different style than it used to. The story is extremely forgettable, and non-immersive. Two hours in, and you already know who the bad guy is, the supporting cast is far from compelling, and the fact that the player is basically trying to keep Paris Hilton and her rich friends alive, can't hold a candle to being a man whose family was taken from him. Max started his "journey through the night" as a man with nothing to lose; a force of nature, driven by revenge. It was silly in concept, but the execution was enough to make you stomach the gameplay flaws.

…And this just isn't the Max Payne you know and love. It lacks everything that made the first, and even the second game as enjoyable as they were. Of course, one can simply be fair, and judge it solely on its merits, without taking its legacy into account. Well, that's the thing with Max Payne 3 - it's a well-done, high budget… ok. A generic shooter that tries too much to stand out, but fails with every needless loading screen. Sure, it's not bad. You'll even have a bit of fun during this ten-hour ride. The problem? You'll forget about it the moment the credits start rolling.

Screenshot for Max Payne 3 on PC

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 5 out of 10


Max Payne's third (and final) journey into the night just doesn't have the right to call itself worthy of its name. Max Payne 3's biggest problem, however, is the fact that, even if you can stomach the change in direction, writing, and - once strong - visual style, this simply is too repetitive for it to be any fun. The production values are insane, but they simply can't save this from being this bundle of mediocrity that it is.


Rockstar Studios







C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  5/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


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