Peeled is beautiful

Who I am
Aina Martin
@ainamartin
Author and references

There are so many ways to react to the loss of loved ones. In the case of Max Payne, the brutal murder of his wife and daughter transformed an honest and law-abiding cop into a kind of psychotic executioner of the night, a force of nature in a leather coat who can find solace only by placing a few bullets in head to criminals like those who destroyed his family. Over the years, however, even the hottest fire ends up extinguished, resignation takes over and it is precisely a resigned Max Payne that we get to know in the awaited third episode of the series, developed by Rockstar Studios instead of Remedy. A passing of the baton that implies profound changes in the nature of the product, having to conform to the "Rockstar style" without losing its nature as an extremely spectacular third-person shooter with a high rate of adrenaline.



We were talking about resignation: Max knows her well and by now her life is a sort of limbo in which you lose track of time, with the evenings that follow one another, marked by alcohol and pills. Things don't change when Passos, Payne's alleged old schoolmate, finds him in a bar in New Jersey and convinces him, albeit at the end of some rather excited phases, which leave little room to decide with a cool head, to work together to him as a bodyguard for rich and famous people, in particular for the important Branco family, who look after their business around São Paulo, Brazil.

Different scenario but the same background situation, and so Max does nothing but do his job completely drunk, only to finish the work once back in his apartment, holding the photo of his deceased wife while he gulps down whiskey until he loses his senses and finally find the longed-for embrace of Morpheus. The decadence of the protagonist will be gradually increasing and well represented thanks to a narrative made up of constant flashbacks and flashforwards, in which we will find ourselves reliving and playing periods before the assignment in Brazil but always subsequent to what was told in the first two Max Payne, with only a few references to the troubled past of the protagonist, so as not to inhibit the involvement of those who may not know the origins of the series. And in this continuous game of references it is the figure of our avenger who literally pierces the screen, thanks to an enviable charisma and a real aesthetic progression, able to perfectly represent the desperation of a human figure extremely fought inside because he is able apparently to bring only death and destruction.



Armed and drunk

Taking care of security for a wealthy family in a scenario like that of São Paulo, where the dividing line between rich and poor is incredibly clear, is not an easy task as Passos wanted us to believe. And soon the situation begins to precipitate: it is clear that someone has targeted the three Branco brothers and the wife of the older one; and it is not a question of banditucoli of the favelas, but of well organized people, armed to the teeth and with their backs covered.

Max's perennial drunkenness ends up playing a precise role in the framework of the game's artistic direction, absolutely excellent, with the images that often split for a few moments and give us an idea of ​​how this character, destroyed by personal events, by war with the gangs and as he gets older, he drags on despite everything and is still capable of giving a hard time to a small army of hooded guerrillas. The bullet time is always there, a real trademark of the series, and is at our disposal with the classic adrenaline indicator that fills up with the passing of seconds, remaining in cover if subjected to enemy fire and killing the opponents. It is activated manually by pressing the right analog in the default configuration, or automatically by activating the so-called shootdodge, that is, making Max dive in some direction with the pressure of the right backbone. Bullet time is also entered by suffering a fatal blow but still having at least one painkiller available: in this situation we will have very few seconds to hit those who mortally wounded us and, if we succeed, Max will automatically assume a painkiller to return to the center of the action as if nothing had happened. Often and willingly, however, it is the events themselves that trigger the slowdown, thanks to a scripting able to offer us some of the most spectacular sequences ever seen in an action game, which never end up being trivialized as sometimes happened in the episodes. curated by Remedy. The different thickness of the production, now passed into the hands of Rockstar, is also noticeable in these situations.



And so Max throws himself from a roof to hit a bandit who holds a person hostage, or breaks through a window to catch a handful of criminals by surprise, or even throws himself on a trolley to hit a string of opponents stationed in the building opposite the one he is in and, as if that weren't enough, we see him fall from a balustrade into a warehouse, slowed down only by a chain, while he unloads dozens of magazines on the poor unfortunates below. Sometimes these moments are unforgiving, in the sense that it is not possible to make mistakes under penalty of game over. It is certainly a solution that will lead you to experiment with new and more articulated ways to mention some dynamics, but which on balance turns out to be absolutely in line with the decisions taken by developers in other sectors as well. Among other things, very often there is not even the time to freely explore the game areas, cleaned with great effort, in search of the numerous collectibles and clues that can tell something more about the story, since we will often find ourselves in chasing characters or escorting Passos or someone from the Branco family, and not continuing with a certain speed will mean seeing our ally dead.

PlayStation 3 Trophies

There are forty-nine Trophies contained in Max Payne 3, and as per tradition, obtaining them implies the completion of a mix of objectives. Some of them must be reached by force of circumstances and involve, in most cases, the completion of the individual levels as well as the single player campaign in the five degrees of challenge available. Other Trophies are obtained by completing much more complex missions, such as killing a certain number of enemies with various weapons and modes, as well as finding objects or, finally, completing stages without ever resorting to painkillers.



A hardcore experience?

Wanting to compare the gunplay of the original Max Payne to an eel and that of Grand Theft Auto IV to a piece of wood, we can say that Max Payne 3 brings together the best of the two experiences and succeeds in offering a gameplay of great value, engaging and solid. The character is very well controlled, can use various objects of the scenario to shelter during firefights and is left to the player the most complete freedom in terms of adjusting the difficulty, not only thanks to the three different degrees of challenge available (with an additional two which are unlocked later) but also to the setting of the aim which can be automatic, semi-automatic or manual, and which obviously has an important influence on what our approach to fighting will be. Opting for manual aiming means remaining faithful to the experience of the series, since it involves greater difficulty and the need to adjust the viewfinder with great precision in order to place some headshots during bullet time, while the semi-automatic option allows you to lock the target by pressing the left trigger of the controller, then adjust the aim on the fly and peck the opponent on duty between the eyes. The importance of an accurate shot increases as you progress through the story, as new enemies enter the field with heavy weaponry and protections that make it really difficult to take them out with a single shot or a burst of machine guns. A little further above we also mentioned the covers, which in Max Payne 3 obviously they could not miss, as in any self-respecting third-person shooter. They are of the active type and obviously allow you to lean out and take aim with a hint of relaxation; however there are some elements in the game that in fact make them not very usable, almost a contour to the action experience even at the highest difficulty levels.

First of all, there is a very aggressive artificial intelligence, which will always try to exploit the large number of contemporary enemies that we will face in every firefight to get around and flush us out; moreover, most of the shelters are destructible when subjected to repeated stresses. But most of all it is Max's nature to stimulate us to go ahead with weapons at the ready, almost in contrast to what the shooters of this generation have accustomed us to. The former policeman is basically a tamarro worthy of the best Die Hard, who can never be knocked to the ground with a couple of bullets and for this reason the game stimulates us to throw ourselves in the center of the action, armed with bullet times and maybe with a pistol and a machine gun harnessed together, to sow death and destruction in the center of an office or among the abandoned shacks of São Paulo. Admiring in retrospect the scene of devastation created with our leaden fury will produce great satisfaction.

Hard but fair

Another important step Rockstar Studios took in the direction of the most appropriate balance concerns the management of ammo and the famous painkillers that Max must take to restore his health. Both elements are far from frequent in the game, placing themselves in antithesis to productions in which you never run out of shots in the magazine or you never replay a certain sequence due to repeated game overs. In Max Payne 3 you die all right, extremely more frequently than you might expect: there are moments that you will have to face over and over again before being able to successfully overcome them, but at the same time the presence of relatively numerous checkpoints (although in some situations we have noticed a too far away from the save point) manages to gild the pill just enough to avoid labeling the game as "frustrating".

The organization of the arsenal is also very convincing and plausible, with the character holding a pistol in the holster and a second pistol (or small caliber machine gun) in his right hand, while in the other hand he holds a shotgun. assault or a shotgun. It is possible to hold two small arms at the same time, for example two pistols or a pistol and an uzi, but this choice implies the abandonment of the heavy weapon. Everything happens before our eyes, allowing us to check the current composition of the equipment with a glance, while an indicator placed next to that of the vital energy informs us of the shots in the barrel and the total ammunition for the weapon we are using. . Let me be clear, there are some edges to remind us that even the most accurate videogame production can show the side to inattention, and in this specific case it sometimes happens that at the end of a sequence, or after a loading, the game puts the game back in our hands. pistol, maybe unloaded, instead of the machine gun we were holding up to a second before (priceless the act of launching into the air, bullet time activated, perfectly frame the enemy's forehead, press the trigger and hear the unmistakable noise of the unloaded weapon) , which can give us some headaches if we end up right in the middle of a new shooting.

The cliques

True element of interconnection between Max Payne 3 and future Rockstar titles, including Grand Theft Auto V, the "Cliques" are nothing more than the reinterpretation of the guilds of any self-respecting MMO by the American developer. Created and customizable through the Rockstar Social Club, these particular groups allow you to unite friends and acquaintances by stimulating teamwork towards the ultimate goal of growing your crew in terms of experience and making it rise in the world rankings. The system is completely automatic: finishing in a match where there is already a member of our group we will automatically be teamed with him and we will start earning extra bonuses by collaborating in killing and achieving objectives. In addition, with the passage of time, real feuds will begin to arise between cliques, which will stimulate players to kill opponents belonging to the enemy group. All in a sort of meta-game that goes beyond the single video game, the servers or the modes.

Not just single player

Once you have completed the fourteen chapters that make up the single player campaign, and which will hardly keep you busy for less than ten hours, Max Payne 3 remains able to offer another nice handful of content. To begin with there are two arcade modes that allow you to retrace the levels and events narrated in the story mode with two variations on the theme: on the one hand the classic Challenge to Points, which allows you to earn points and unlock multipliers gradually increasing according to the type of hits inflicted on the enemy and the amount of damage taken;

on the other, the titled Last Breath, a real race against time where we are allowed only one minute to complete the various chapters of the game but by killing the opponents we can gain precious seconds. Obviously, both of these modes focus on the challenge with your friends and with the whole world, and in fact the various rankings are the masters, which can be immediately consulted at the end of the match, as well as a series of overlays in game that show us a glance at how the best in the standings fared. There is also a multiplayer mode in all respects, which promptly comes to disprove the cliché of the uselessness of this feature in such a distinctly historical-centric title. Although beyond any doubt the main dish of Max Payne 3 is its single player campaign, it must be recognized that Rockstar has been able to give a lot of substance to the online implications of the videogame offer. The title offers four different modes for up to sixteen players at the same time. Leaving aside the inevitable free-for-all or team deathmatches, we find Payne Killers and Gang Wars. The first follows the popular Dead Man Walking, already seen in the second game of the series, and sees two players take the features of Max and Passos in the very difficult and extreme attempt to take out as many opposing players as possible. Being one of the two protagonists obviously brings a series of skills and additional power-ups, but it is enough for only one to die to pass the baton to two other challengers, chosen based on the amount of damage done to the two anti-heroes.

The mode is very interesting because in some respects it can represent the perfect cross between a cooperative and a team deathmatch, with these 14 players united in the common goal of taking out the two protagonists, in turn held together by a bond of life. and of death which in fact obliges them to coordinate as best they can. However, Gang Wars is the real spearhead of the entire package, because it is able to connect directly to the single player campaign to offer a series of games with variable objectives that intersect with the plot of the game complete with narrative sequences, talked about Max in the background and, of course, portions of the levels already seen in the single. The same game mode of the clash changes dynamically based on the results of the previous match and constitutes an element of surprise capable of making longevity skyrocket. Obviously, in a multiplayer of this thickness, the classic personalization of your avatar could not be missing, which among graphic elements, nicknames, weapons and skills of various kinds is able to offer many unlockables that are based on a system of experience levels. Among other things, it is possible to configure the loadout of your character by choosing the three weapons to carry around and a so-called burst, a special ability that clearly determines the style of play. Here in the middle we find bullet time, among other things, but also some more social skills, able to enhance the entire team team.

All the beauty of a broken man

Max Payne 3 it amazes not only from an artistic point of view, with some visual choices of great impact and able to perfectly recreate the mental chaos of a drunk anti-hero constantly wounded in body and psyche, but also and above all in technical terms. The Rage engine that enhances the game has undergone enormous steps forward even compared to what was seen in Red Dead Redemption, obviously thanks to a much more restricted and stiffened game area in terms of freedom of action.

Thus, during the campaign we will see an enormous variety of environments, all recreated with obsessive care both in the exteriors and in the elaborate internal architectures, which invariably can be torn to pieces with firearms thanks to a great abundance of elements and furnishings. destructible. The particle that manages everything is therefore excellent, but above all the physics is incredible, able to handle the bullets that Rockstar has long praised us in many of the promotional films of the game. This feature actually manages to make a difference when we move in bullet time through dozens of trails and shells, which we see whizzing in every direction. Witnessing these scenes in slow motion, with enemies hit on the legs, in the private parts, in the head, all in an absolutely credible way, manages to exalt and amaze the player at the same time. Of course, the animations of the bodies and faces are also exceptional, as well as most of the models, although invariably the enemies are a bit repetitive in appearance. However, it is above all the fluidity of the narrative that involves, with a style that in many respects closely resembles what Naughty Dog did for the Uncharted series: even the story of Max Payne 3 it is told with a succession of gameplay and cutscene without any solution of continuity, in a constant passage between narrated sequences and exploration or furious shootings, where it is never clearly delimited when you are playing and when you are following a pre- rendered.

This is the cinematic tipping point we've been looking for in an action game for some time, and Rockstar seems to have finally found it. There are some aesthetic flaws, with sometimes a little too much aliasing on the screen and, above all, a frame rate on PlayStation 3 often dancers in the most excited situations, with obvious drops especially when switching between cutscenes and first-person action. Finally, only beautiful words for the splendid soundtrack, which if on the one hand follows the famous theme of the series, on the other hand it manages to innovate with background music of the highest quality and great dynamism, able to highlight even more the most excited by the action, underlining at the same time the most intimate phases of history. The same goes for the dubbing of Max Payne 3, with the actor lending face and voice, James McCaffrey, perfectly in line with his avatar. Too bad that, as per Rockstar tradition, English is the only language spoken and we have to settle for subtitles which, among other things, are written in a truly microscopic font, without any possibility of customization in terms of size. or color.

The Xbox 360 version

We also got to try the Xbox 360 version of the game, which has some differences from its counterpart on Sony consoles. The first, now well known, concerns the distribution of the game on two discs, for obvious reasons of space. Arriving at two thirds of the single player campaign, you are therefore invited to insert the second DVD, which is absolutely not invasive as a solution. Too bad, however, that you have to juggle between the first and second disc also to try your hand at arcade mode, given that certain levels reside precisely on one or the other support. To balance this lack, however, we have noticed a decidedly lower tendency of the graphics engine to show the side to drops in the frame rate, or on Xbox 360 the slowdowns are less numerous and less conspicuous than on PlayStation 3, and the result is a more fluid experience.

Comment

Versions tested: PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 Resources4Gaming.com

9.4

Readers (571)

9.2

Your vote

Max Payne 3 represents an engaging step forward in the genre of third-person action, particularly with regard to the mixture of gameplay and non-interactive sequences. It is in fact the narrative of a story with such attention to detail that gives that added value to an adrenaline-pumping gameplay, rich in depth and physicality, where the player really manages to get excited after a long sequences in bullet time between soldiers shot to death, shattered glass. and a soundtrack that sets the pace of the action. To close the circle of the content offer there are then a couple of extra modes for the single and above all a deep and multifaceted multiplayer sector which, while not aiming at the top of the genre, manages to offer a pleasant added value. In short, a great return for a Max Payne in better shape than ever.

PRO

  • The narrative style is excellent, with no continuity between cutscene and actual gameplay
  • Technically excellent, thanks to the physics of the characters and bullets
  • It can be difficult and offers a very intense degree of challenge
AGAINST
  • Some automatisms do not work correctly, such as the unloaded weapon which is selected by default
  • There is no possibility to enlarge subtitles, which are often almost illegible
  • The frame rate is sometimes choppy on PS3
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