Hello all! Last week, I looked at a space shooter that was more than the marketing angle had you believe.

This week brings us to the last game in a trilogy I’ve covered here before. It’s really good, but on the other hand, maybe it should be the final game in the series.

Max Payne 3 is, of course, the third game in the Max Payne series, both of which I’ve written about (here and here). This time, Max finds himself in São Paulo, Brazil, working security for the wealthy Branco family. As this is a Max Payne game, trouble soon arises when the wife of Max’s employer is kidnapped. Max sets out to find her and stumbles into a greater plot of crime and conspiracy and...

To be honest, it’s just like previous Max Payne games; a simple call evolves quickly into a complex and frankly insane plot. While I love this series, it often feels like the story goes from Point A to Point C without any kind of solid Point B. Consider the first game; you fight organized crime, but suddenly—government conspiracy! Super-soldier drugs! Max Payne 2 handled this a bit better, but 3 throws in an organ-trafficking plot towards the end that Max awkwardly stumbles into—just like the player, really.

The protagonist shaving his head is never a good narrative sign.

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I still love it, though, because it’s really Max’s story, as improbable as his circumstances are. Playing Max Payne 3 always felt like an extended epilogue to me, rather than the ending; I felt Max Payne 2 was a more proper, fitting end to the story. Despite that, Max is still a fascinating character to watch; in each game, he’s a character who fights his way back from the brink. He’s thisclose to giving up, but he finds his way. Of course, he’s still brooding and gruff-voiced throughout, keeping to his film noir roots.

About that...Max Payne 3 did away with the noir aesthetic of the first two titles. Well, maybe “did away with” is inaccurate. It’s more of a modern crime film feel, with words appearing on the screen and such. Think Tony Scott’s version of Man on Fire and you’re about there. It’s a refreshing change from the first two games, but is it better? I don’t know. I dig both styles, but Max Payne 2 really started to border on film noir satire after a while.

I talk a lot about the previous games, but that’s the lens I played Max Payne 3 under. Hell, that’s how we play almost every sequel to games we love. We can’t help it; that’s why there’s always a debate over which Uncharted is the best, or when a game or movie has been rebooted, we scrutinize every detail and compare and contrast it to the original. Even though it’s entirely possible and great to like two things. So, when I got Max Payne 3 (incidentally, the same exact day I picked up another “3" in the form of Diablo III), of course I was going to compare it intensely to 1 and 2.

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WOOOOSH WHEEEEEEE

And it really holds up; it’s the best playing, with the best shooting I’ve seen in a long time, or since. Bullets fly in real-time, as always, and that’s especially cool when you shift into Bullet-Time. One caveat: Max has a sense of weight about him; if you slow-mo dive, and Max hits a wall, he’ll crash and fall, interrupting the dive and cancelling the slow-mo. This is great, to me; it means you have to think about positioning, at least to a point. Notably, the game is much more cover-based than its predecessors, thanks to a genuine cover system this time around. The game is a blast to play, in short, if a bit ordinary save for the slow-mo, which we actually haven’t seen in games an awful lot lately. Occasionally, but not as much as it used to be.

Max Payne 3 turned out to be quite great, despite my endless reservations about there even being a Max Payne 3. It’s the kind of game that taught me not to judge a game until you actually play it. I mean, immediately deciding on a game more than a year before release is kind of dumb, if you think about it. You never really know how these things are gonna turn out until they...you know...actually turn out. As always, give things a chance!

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Thanks for reading my stuff! Especially this lengthy post. Leave comments and suggest games to cover! Tweet at me! And find more of my stuff (and the stuff of people more talented than me) at Current Digital! And stay tuned for something cool (or, again, follow me on Twitter—hint hint)

Next week-Let’s talk about a game based on a movie. “Less is more” is definitely the philosophy here, despite the hysterically long title.