This blog is spoiler-free. The title is an Alan Wake script reference.
For months before the game came out I had so many mixed and profound feelings about it. There was the insane excitement and anticipation to get into the head of my all time favorite protagonist, dearest of all my friends Max Payne, one more (and last) time, so I can bid him farewell like I've waited to do for years. But there also all the things that make video game development simply unfortunate in my eyes.
My worries were: Over-simplifying the game's shooting mechanics and level deisgn so it sells more and has more appeal for the wider, lighter gaming audience. Leaving the sorrowful, heartbreaking and up-close-and-personal noire tale of Max Payne to go for a more generic Rockstar Games character arc. Featuring a sloppy, basic, freedom-restricting form of bullet-time and shootdodging, coupled with the terribad Rockstar shooting (I think it's great in IV and RDR, but it would suck for a linear bullet-time focused game). Totally ruining the game on PC (where Max Payne was born and will always belong) by porting it with their dicks while their hands are tied behind their backs and their eyes closed shut.
And most importantly, Max losing his personality and charm. His legendary molongues and one liners during the game's cutscenes and various gameplay moments.
Two of my three all time favorite franchises had been ruined less than a year ago: Crysis 2 and Battlefield 3. And since they say death comes in threes, it only made sense for me to expect Max to die in this new sequel as well. His soul to die, his action moves and great monologues, not him passing away in the game.
(P.S. the first BF3 DLC redeemed the game somewhat, and the fall DLC "Armored Kill" looks like it will be the salvation of the game. Here's hoping!)
Were any of my worries legitimate? WAS I RIGHT?!
I was so wrong.
Max Payne 3 (2012)Blog legend:
- "Points" means I'm rewarding the game for doing something well.
- ">>" is for funny screenshots/interesting observations.
- P.S. The words in yellow below are LINKED TO SCREENSHOTS. Click on them to enlarge on-screen!
From the opening cutscene where Max has a conversation with himself, trying to convince himself that this new beginning is good for him and that there's no harm in trying this new job, I was hooked. The Max Payne 2 theme was used beautifully, Max looks and sounds like he's the older extension of his 9-years-younger self. Points: 2
The game has a TON of PC options, from gameplay to controls to graphics, and it runs sooooo smoothly. Points: 6
The game begins with a flash back of the last moment of the story, just like the first two games. Max is reflecting on what he has done so far, with a tone that mixes confidence, regret and uncertainty. Points: 8
Now to be honest in the first couple of levels (villa party and disco club), I wasn't feeling the gameplay. Max was too heavy, a little clumsy, and I didn't know how to dynamically and swiftly use bullet-time and shootdodging, especially that the mouse sensitivity, even when turned all the way up, was just not high enough to spin the reticule 360 degrees 10 times before hitting the ground. The only way I know how.
>> Max hanging from a ledge: #1
In addition to his disorienting weight/movement and the dissatisfying shootdodges/mouse sensitivity, the camera effects were pretty ridiculous as well. I mean, come on. Those were my initial impressions, bear in mind.
I also wasn't fond of taking cover in a Max Payne game, but seeing as the shootdodging wasn't very fun and the weapon controls just felt weird, i found myself either taking cover or repeating the gunfights over and over until I finished them untouched. The only way I know how.
Yes, I actually restart the checkpoint over and over til i empty a room or clear a yard untouched, or with minimal damage taken.
However the game gets a couple of points for having proper Max Payne levels to be explored. I felt right at home. I mean, exploring a dirty bathroom is so Max Payne. Ohhh yeeeahhh. Points: 10
>> KILL CAM : "Don't shoot the gun out of my hand while I'm dancing!"
>> Glitch/bug #1 and #2 - misplaced cart light / Wall behind the door.
>> AERIAL SHOOTDODGE.
>> These textures are kinda shit.
>>You know what I used to do in Max Payne 1? Try to shootdodge outside the map. MP3 totally let me do that, haha. Look how far he got :D Points: 12
I slowly began to enjoy how gritty and rugged this whole experience is. It felt natural and made sense that an old man Max in a stranger land would turn into such an alien rather than feel familiar. And it was my mission to conquer this alien, tame him and bring him home.
His confusion, cynicism and moodiness played a great role in presenting his state of mind in this game.
And then we're back in New York. The place I've literally lived in as Max Payne for all these years. And it looks. so. damn. identical. to MP1 and 2... POINTS: 20
>> Is it me, or is Max's tie supposed to resemble his old shirt from MP1? (The one lying in the bathroom in MP2, by the way). FUCK that's awesome!
Again, totally makes sense that this old man Max is sitting in a bar drinking his life away, being messed with by the younger generation of New Jersey. The story and Max's old tired voice are starting to grow on me, but what about the gameplay?
>> Max hanging from a ledge: #2
>> Running through a burning apartment building is SO MAX PAYNE 2. This, too. Points: 22
>> This rifle is ALIVE!
>>This guy forgot his face.
Escape from New York (JUST LOOK AT IT) with Passos after having the best nostalgia-drenched fan service I've seen in ages, with a huge smile on my face, and then begins the FIRST STEALTH MISSION IN MAX PAYNE HISTORY! Playing stealth in Max Payne just felt.. really cool! Look at him sneaking around with his silenced pistol :D
>> Yo, remember in Max Payne 1 when you shoot the yellow tire stopper to make the big trailer roll onto the enemies? MAX PAYNE 3 DID IT! Points: 24
>> Kudos on bringing back Captain Baseball Bat Boy, but too bad it kinda sucks and is in Portuguese. Too bad you didn't bring back Address Unknown. Thanks for trying, though.
>> Remember finding a camera recording a prostitution room in MP1? Another homage right here! Points: 25
>> This hobo must be the grandson of Irish from Red Dead Redemption. He's also a reference to the hobo from MP2.
Then in the next level, I had it. I had enough. I thought that I will either make the combat feel like real swift Max Payne, or I'm done.
I bumped up my mouse DPI to 2000, and set the DPI increase button on my mouse to go up to 5000 DPI when i hit it, and down to 2000 when I decrease is.
And then..... The real Max Payne action came to life:
YES! POINTS: 35
And just when I found the controls recipe to return Max to his former action glory, the next cutscene returned him to his glorious, determined personality. He shaves his hair,and, just like Sam Lake described it, he turned from a punching bag to someone who delivers punches. He shaved his head as a ritualistic act to regain control over himself.
I fully endorse Skinhead Max.
"I felt like a fool. I was a sweaty, grey-haired mess. This place, well.. this place was gonna kill me too. I can see that now. I decided that I was gonna die sober, not drunk. At least then I would see who shot me."
"IT WAS TIME TO TAKE BACK CONTROL from whoever was out to get me. If I didn't flush them out, at least my mid-life crisis would confuse them enough so they did something stupid. It was the only hope I had. I knew I wasn't thinking straight, I'd been drinking and popping painkillers for years."
>> Max hanging from a ledge #3
>> Glitch/bug #3: Shootdodging to the right made some form of surface slide with me to the side and sweep the screen!
>> Construction site = So Max Payne :D
>> This favela is beautiful.
Another flashback to New York.
"We'd only been married a short time. By now she's been dead longer than I knew her. I still haven't really forgiven myself for the Mona business, but I knew that was just grief. The insanity that comes with losing the life you had just built. Michelle.. I missed her with every part of my being. I hated the world for not killing me with her, and I hated myself for allowing this to happen to her, and our little girl. But I knew I had to leave town."
Michelle and Rose.After 11 years of the release of the first game, we learn his dead baby daughter's name. Just look how sad he is :(
The first time a game has made me tear up in years.
The remaining few chapters elevate the action, the intelligence and armor and accuracy of the enemies, diversifies the environments some more and consist of being raped by Spec Ops soldiers. I love all of it because it's exactly the way Max Payne 1's last few chapters went through.
>> This bathroom is pretty
>> Enemies waiting on the staircase ready to jump out and pop me is SO Max Payne 1.
>> Filthy apartment building, totally Max Payne 2.
>> Let's go for a SWIM!
>> Finding the story's big revelation on a top security computer. Just like Max Payne 1 (proof)
>>Take cover underneath this plant!
>> A green-lit haze environment, even if it happened for a few seconds, was a TERRIFIC Max Payne 1 throwback (here's why)
>> If you've beaten the game, you'll understand this.
>> Projector room, just like Max Payne 1
>> Watching surveillance cameras is so Max Payne 1 (proof) (sexy proof)
While going through the police station killing the cops and spec ops soldiers, in the most intense and dark of moments while in there, Max utters my now-all time favorite MP quote:
"Another dark rainy night. Another police station. Another futile crusade for amends... Time moves forward, and nothing changes."Fucking goosebumps. Points: 300
Killing more cops and going deep into the station, Max begins wondering why he's in this situation, what he's trying to achieve. And he references the Nightmare sequences from the first two games:
"It was starting to feel as if I'd never leave that place. Like one of those nightmares where you keep running and running only to discover you're chasing yourself."
Here's what he meant by "chasing yourself" <== The first nightmare sequence from MP1, you end up killing yourself.
The final level is an amazing and extremely difficult action level where this AWESOME and absolutely fitting song plays:
The game ends,and I am completely fulfilled, from every aspect possible.
Thank you Rockstar for allowing me to have one more and last adventure in the shoes of my all time favorite character.
Now I know what purpose the credit song in MP2 serves: