Max's vulnerability, and the feeling of danger that accompanies it, makes combat much more nerve-racking than it was in earlier Max Payne games, but it does come with a downside: Max's signature shootdodge has suffered. You can still leap through the air in slow motion like a John Woo action hero, attempting to blow your foes away before you land, but because your enemies also make good use of cover, there's a good chance some of them won't be vulnerable to your airborne assault, and as you get up from the ground after a shootdodge, you're something of a sitting duck. The result is that you may end up using shootdodge from time to time not because it's a particularly effective tactic but because, risks be damned, it just looks so cool.
6382347Even when he's been drinking, Max is always ready to leap back into action.None
There's a great variety of guns to use in Max Payne 3--all manner of pistols, shotguns, rifles, and submachine guns. Max can still dual-wield weapons but, in a great touch, any larger weapon you grab is carried in his left hand, and if you opt to dual-wield your smaller weapons, he has to drop the bigger gun. (After all, where is he going to put it?) Max also has a number of terrific, hard-hitting melee attacks at his disposal, which knock enemies helplessly to the ground and then let you fill them full of lead. Great sound design supports the impact of the action. Gunfire sounds as fierce and deadly as it looks, and simmering percussion comes to the forefront in battle, a fitting accompaniment to your escalating pulse.
The campaign deftly avoids falling into a rut by frequently putting you in situations that fall outside the standard action. You might find yourself blasting enemies in bullet time as you hang from a helicopter, sliding down a sloped roof into a swimming pool, or in any number of other action movie situations. The campaign also includes just enough periods where you get to catch your breath and simply walk from one place to the next, taking in your vibrant surroundings before the next firefight begins. Optional clues you can search for and collect throughout each level give you an added incentive to look around and give you the sense that Max is good at more than just killing, that he has the instincts of a detective. It all adds up to an immensely exciting, expertly paced campaign that's lengthy enough and varied enough to leave you satisfied.
Where the campaign is tight and focused, the multiplayer is fast, freewheeling, and a little goofy. Though you start with just a handful of loadouts to choose from, you eventually unlock an impressive variety of weapons, attachments, gear, and abilities, called bursts, to choose from. Unlike in the campaign, in which Max fills up his bullet-time meter rather quickly on the standard difficulty, the adrenaline that fills up your burst meter in multiplayer takes time to collect, ensuring that these powers are not overused, and requiring you to choose carefully: Do you cash in your trigger-happy burst at level 1, enjoying the benefit of armor-piercing ammunition for 20 seconds, or do you hold off until you have a full meter and reward yourself with a devastating grenade launcher?
Hey Max, quit hanging around and get to work!
Bullet time is one of the available bursts in multiplayer, and it works well, affecting enemies in your line of sight rather than slowing down enemies all over the battlefield. But it's not the only standout burst. Paranoia is great for causing mayhem on the field, making members of the enemy team see each other as enemies. And big dog, which gives you and your teammates a health boost, can help turn the tables when things are looking grim.
There are standard deathmatch and team deathmatch games, but Payne Killer and Gang Wars are much more interesting. In Payne Killer, you become Max Payne or his partner Passos by killing them, and then earn points for staying alive and killing the attacking players as long as possible. Your bullet-time bursts and life-restoring painkillers give you an edge over your opposition for a little while, but you're heavily outnumbered in these roles, and it's only a matter of time before you're overwhelmed.
Gang Wars is a five-round team game in which objectives vary from round to round. In one round, your team might need to plant bombs at sites that the other team is struggling to protect; in another, there might be a VIP you need to kill on the other team, whose identity and location are revealed only after you kill a certain number of other members of the team. The frequently changing objectives and the uncertainty of what's next make Gang Wars an exciting mode that keeps you on your toes.
Shootdodging gives multiplayer a slightly goofy, distinctly Max Payne flavor.
In the context of the campaign, shootdodging typically looks like a stylish way to kill people. In multiplayer, however, you might see people belly flop gracelessly onto the ground, which can make things a bit comical. The action is wilder in multiplayer than in the campaign, as players scramble to kill each other, using their various bursts to aid their team or to wreak havoc on their opponents. It's all chaotic fun, and the option to start vendettas against players who have killed you twice in a row, which earns you more experience points for the next kill if you get them before they get you, brings a dynamic and personal aspect to the competition as you're often trying to seek out and kill one player in particular.
But while the multiplayer is enjoyable, the single-player campaign is a knockout. There's incentive to return to the campaign and conquer it on higher difficulty levels, or to tackle the leaderboards in Arcade mode and in New York Minute mode, in which you race through levels, earning time for each kill. Times change and people change, too; Max Payne isn't the same man by the end of this game that he is at the beginning. It's fitting, then, that the gameplay has also evolved, that Max needs to proceed with a bit more caution than he did in his younger days. They say the more things change, the more they stay the same, and one thing remains true: you can still count on the Max Payne name to deliver some of the most stylish, distinctive, pulse-pounding shooting around.