The moment I heard that Max Payne 3 was coming out I thought, "ok, another sequel that's just…whatever." Even after seeing the menu screen, there was still skepticism of it being another potential phone-in title just to keep a popular franchise going.
I was wrong.
Max Payne 3 may not have sexy laser rifles or an intricate list of fancy martial arts moves. But what it does an excellent job of is tapping into a sense of foaming-mouthed depravity that dwells deep down. If you're one of those people who likes pretending to fire off dual pistols a la Chow Yun Fat while making shooting noises, this is the jackpot. All throughout my time playing the demo, I couldn't help but wonder how sick it would be playing at home while blasting an M.O.P. album.
The story takes place years after the first two games with our boy Max trying to get himself together. After a number of booze and prescription drug binges, luck turns around and Payne winds up in Sao Paulo as an executive bodyguard for a rich family. One day, his boss' wife comes up missing and in an effort to get her back, a ransom is exchange is set up. Just as you would guess, the deal goes bad and shit gets real. Max has to revert to his old ways of handling things and that's by putting holes in people, places and things.
At a glance, here are a few things that stood out while playing the unfinished version of the game.
Cut scene animation moves seamless with game play
At times, it's nearly impossible to tell when one begins and the other ends. You know in a lot of games, you have an amazing looking cut scene and then you can tell it's time to play again by the positioning of the character? None of that here. You get thrown right into the action so it's best to stay aware.
There's always been a love/hate relationship with enemy artificial intelligence in games. They're either too dumb, too difficult or just plain kooky. The enemies in MP3 have the same smart to moron ratio as real human beings. Some of them walk into the line of fire just for you to turn them into chili con carne while others execute more tactical maneuvers such as ducking and covering from your hail of bullets.
Nothing grinds a player's gears as much as dumb companion character. Add to that, the habit of them getting in your way when you're trying to pull off a surprise rush attack or stealth kill. Max Payne remedies that with excellent camera alignment and smarter companions. When you find yourself with a tag-a-long, They don't just stand in front of you waiting for you to move around them. They get out of your way and allow you to get past. That saves you quite a few screamed obscenities.
Since violence always looks extra awesome in slow motion, Rockstar decided to add to their Bullet Time feature from the first two games. This time around you can jump into an action sequence called "Shoot-Dodge." You still remain in control of your guns, you can interact with the environment --like bracing for a fall--and yes, it's all in slow motion. If that isn't enough of an underwear changer, if you keep shooting, while engaged in a shoot-dodge, you're treated to a bonus of extra entry and exit wounds in your target.
More realistic body mechanics
The whole rag-doll physics thing was cool for a while but Max Payne 3 uses Natural Motion's Euphoria character behavior system. It's not a type of Yoga style--it's a system that makes the in-game characters move more like humans. This means when you push someone's wig back with a 9mm, you won't see them on the ground with a leg bent backwards. The bodies collapse and fall as if there was really a spine and limbs that bend in one direction.
There are other niceties on the way that Rockstar couldn't speak on (no surprise there) but they did mention that there are some interesting plans for multiplayer. So far so awesome is my opinion but let's see what happens when the game drops in May.