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Max is back, but can he bring back the Payne after a nine-year hiatus? Rockstar is dubbing Max Payne 3 as a new chapter in the life of Max Payne, and after so long since the release of Max Payne 2, this can only be a good thing.
The city that defined the first two games, New York, is left behind in the dust, and instead Max finds himself in Sao Paulo, Brazil, as a security guard for the wealthy Rodrigo Branco.
Just because the game is no longer in a big American city doesn’t mean the franchise’s gritty film-noir storytelling won’t be present. Branco’s wife is kidnapped by a street gang, leading Max once again into the seedy criminal underworld.
The cutscenes appear to be moving away from the graphic-novel format, since Rockstar is touting more interactivity and seamlessness with the gameplay. But fear not – Max’s signature monotone voice will be back, as voice actor James McCaffrey is confirmed to reprise his role.
Max Payne 3 will bring back old-school memories for a lot of fans (well, if 2001 is considered “old-school”). It wouldn’t be a Max Payne game without bullet time, the gameplay mechanic where time slows to a crawl, and thankfully Max Payne 3 has it. Watching in explicit detail the destination of your bullets into your target has never been so satisfying.
Max doesn’t need to take cover to get his health back. Instead, painkillers will make their return. Nothing like downing three or four of the pills in a single gunfight and wondering how Max can still be alive.
What seems to be most improved (and after nine years, it should be), are the graphics and animation. Max Payne 3 takes advantage of NaturalMotion's Euphoria technology and the Rockstar Advanced Game Engine, allowing for real-time animations that are different every time. We’ve already seen this technology put to good use in Grand Theft Auto IV and Red Dead Redemption, so expect more of the same in Max Payne 3.
All of this sounds great, but there is one glaring issue that I had with the previous two games that I hope is addressed in the third. The first two games started off great, fantastic even. The storytelling and atmosphere were top-notch, but like all good things, it must come to an end, and, especially the first game, that happened quick. The games just got boring fast, and I’ve always thought that the last two-thirds of the first Max Payne could have been completely done away with.
Will Max Payne 3 keep bringing the pain throughout the entire game? We’ll find out soon enough, when the game releases Tuesday.