Much like his name, Max Payne has suffered a lot of pain. It has been nine years since his last title and yet this long suffering ex-cop still keeps the open wounds from the trauma of losing his wife and child. Last we saw in Max Payne 2, he was downing alcohol to drown those wounds while struggling to move on. Thankfully, Rockstar has developed a new direction for him in Max Payne 3.
Before we get into the game, here's a quick look at the unboxing of Max Payne 3 for the Xbox 360. On the front cover, you'll see our esteemed protagonist Max looking cool with scars on his cheek. Notice the female on the cover art? Like most Rockstar games, she won't be found in game. This is a good thing because the damsels in this game are nothing short of viciously hot (look out for Fabiana!). Our copy is the Standard Edition and opening the box reveals the game manual, the Rockstar Pass pamphlet and two Max Payne 3 discs. Yes the game packs in quite a lot of data and here's how the phases go. On disc one you'll be playing Max with hair, while in disc two, you'll be playing him without hair. Why? You'll find out once you get into the game.
Max Payne 3 is the latest sequel that takes full flight from the previous two games. If you have not played any of the games before, know that its predecessors took a darker, noire 70's direction, while this present title refuses to live in the dull-looking past and brings about a brighter, livelier look while retaining the iconic noire-ish narrative style (of him audibly talking to himself, about himself as you play the game) and downright dark plot of betrayal, alcohol and painkillers. For veteran players of the game, you will realize that the rundown tenements and shadowy sidewalks of New York are now replaced by nightclubs and the baking heat of Brazil, or Sao Paulo to be specific. Max has taken up a security job for wealthy businessman Rodrigo Branco and things seem to go well for a while. What could possibly go wrong with working for an extremely rich tycoon in a country like Brazil? Well, Branco's wife gets kidnapped on Max’s shift and this sets off a chain of events like a dominos doomed for failure and takes Max through a sinister plot that he realises is bigger than himself.
You will be hearing a lot of Max talking and narrating from the third person perspective and this is the staple of all Max Payne games. However, Rockstar has gone on ahead to add cinematic effects like scan lines, aberrations and shifting film stock. It might feel annoying at first, but keep playing and you’ll realise it portrays Max’s jaded attitude towards the world around him. What does it take for a man who’s hardened by chasing criminals all day and a deceased family to move on with his life?