It’s been years since the last Max Payne, and the years have certainly taken their toll on him. Over the years he’s poisoned himself with alcohol and pills trying to forget the loss of his family. An old friend, Passos, offers him a bodyguard job in Brazil to rejuvenate his life. An easy babysitting job turns into a kidnapping, which escalates into much, much more, and Max is in over his head. The story isn’t terribly original, but Max’s grizzled voice narrating the entire thing makes it a fantastic, dark, and sometimes humorous, noir.
What started out as a run and gunner has transformed into a much slower paced experience, opting out fast action, for tactical, cover-based mechanics. The signature bullet time returns, but it feels ultimately useless due to cramped environments. The gameplay is still a fun, bloody opera, but it’s a little disappointing to see it change. Through fourteen chapters, spanning about eight hours, you’ll weave Max through gunfights in a multitude of locations, and cinematic set pieces reminding me fondly of the Uncharted series at times. Along the way you can search for golden gun parts and clues, to add detail to the story at hand. They even included a pretty fun, but forgettable multiplayer for those wanting more.
This game, to be blunt, looks amazing. Every environment from a colorful jungle, to a derelict favela shines in brilliant detail. The sun effects alone made my jaw drop several times, and the attention to detail on the characters, especially Max’s clothes are amazing. The music features original, heart pumping tunes in the heat of battle along with licensed tracks where appropriate like a club. I do have small gripes however. For a game featuring so much Portuguese, it would have been nice to have it subtitled in English. Also, the cinematic presentation of the story is cool at first, but the blurred visuals and comic panel cutaways are a bit distracting after awhile.
Rockstar has revived Max Payne for the better. He’s a total mess, looking for some kind of redemption, which is a perfect analogy of the game itself. It’s a cool noir story, with fun, bloody gameplay and awesome visuals. There are a few problems, but the good far out way the bad. It may not be the Max Payne you remember, but it’s worth a chance and I for one am eager for more.
Score: 4/5 Stars
Special Notes: This article was originally published on May 17, 2012 via my Examiner account before the website shut down.