Max Payne and Rabidgames: Friends no more

Attention. [SPOILER ALERT] Big ones in there.

Rabidgames was really, really disappointed with Max Payne 3. There are several things wrong with the game:

Atmosphere: If a game says Max Payne, it should feel like Max Payne, it should breathe Max Payne it should contain Max Payne, not Die Hard in Brazil. Yet that’s what Max Payne 3 is all about: An old fat bald man on a mission to blow up all the baddies in shiny yet gritty Brazil. The boat scene, the bus scene … is this really Max Payne? Actually, Max Payne even wears a bloodied shirt when he takes down the bosses at the end … and what about blowing up a plane? Yep, check. To Rabidgames, this game is generic shooter stuff, made in 2012. Also, instead of stylish comics we have an over-abundance of annoying cutscenes and blurry vision (well, that one makes sense since it depicts Max Payne‘s addictions), which hardly stand out nowadays.

For the record, watch the dream sequence and some gameplay from the original Max Payne to really realise how much the tone has changed:

Rabidgames dares anyone to show him where Max Payne 3 can create as atmosphere similar to this one.

Story: It’s bland. And while bland can be fun, this one is not. Worst of all, it is plain obvious early on who the evil mastermind of Max Payne 3 is. Of course, it’s a right wing politician. Of course, he sells his brothers for wealth and glory. Of course, everyone else is corrupt, too. At least, there are a couple of things Rabidgames has not seen coming: Just to make Max a morally upright guy, Rockstar threw in a ridiculous illegal organ dealing plot – out of nowhere.

Gameplay: Actually, gameplay is rather fine. Rockstar’s Euphoria engine is a blast, and the destructible environments are great. However, it does not really feel like Max Payne. Sure, you have bullet time and slow-dodging – but Max runs, shoots and takes cover just like John Marston from Red Dead Redemption did. Yes, it’s the same engine, but come on! Max Payne 3 also took a couple of shots at the most crappy bullshit games have ever seen: QTE. Admittedly, it’s not often and mostly disguised as slow-mo aiming reaction tests you possibly can’t fail but it is shit anyway except for one annoying proper QTE clusterfuck which did not make any sense.

The shoot-outs are definitely fun, but there’s one problem: More often than not, your only option is to take cover and pick off one enemy after another. You can do it in bullet time, yes … but somehow, there are too many enemies at the same time so there’s no use in doing anything else like dodging or jumping in the middle of them and going crazy. And one more thing – why does Max Payne 3 bring you always back to your standard weapon after each fucking cutscene? That’s just lazy.

Level design: Here, we have one giant flaw, the most blatant flaw of Max Payne 3: Linear levels are fine, but small sections which doors that just close randomly? Come on, Rockstar! Magical doors? And then the cutscenes … if Rabidgames is in a room how is he supposed to know where he should turn in order to find collectibles – instead of triggering a cutscene, and all is lost? Even worse are the occasions where you kill dozens of bad guys, you’re almost out of ammo – and then there’s a cutscene and all of a sudden, you’re somewhere else without ammo, of course. Oh and those cutscenes … do we really need one each and every goddamn time when Max enters a new fucking room? No, we fucking don’t. But then again, it’s part of the magical level design …

And that’s not all the awful level design: One step forward, two enemies appear from out of nowhere. Next step, same thing happens. Rinse and repeat. Gladly, this does not happen all the time, but when it does, it’s stupid and feels like a relict of the past. It’s 2012 after all.

Characters: Remember playing Max Payne 1 and 2? Remember Mona? Alfred? Lem? But Max Payne 3 … there are only stereotypes around (wealthy mob boss, his greedy wife, corrupt politicians, corrupt cops and so on), and they are boring. Who will we remember Passos? The guy who Passos rescues Max once probably to atone for leaving him twice before. Does this make any sense to anybody? Giovanna? Oh, she’s pregnant. Should that make us care? Becker? Victor? Fabiana? None? And our dear hero himself? After his boss is killed, he shaves is head and swears abstinence (which doesn’t work out, he still takes painkillers and drinks a beer in the epilogue). But the shaving is in the middle of the game, and that’s where his character progressions completely stops. Afterwards, the legendary Max Payne handles everything just like any other videogame hero would have.

At the end of the day, Max Payne 3 is not as bad as it may sound. It’s still an enjoyable, challenging shooter with pretty amazing graphics and the realistic Euphoria phyiscs engine with cool destructible surroundings. You might need 10 to 15 hours to complete the campaign – way more than the industry shooter standard of about 5 hours.

And maybe Rockstar wanted to get arty with Max Payne 3: The journey from the well-known and dark New Jersey to the lively Sao Paolo as a wake-up call. Our protagonist in a foreign country with a foreign language as a fresh start. And the new atmosphere might be supposed to reveal Max Payne for what he has become … after all, he realises his habit of wasting his life away in booze and pills and tries to change, even it is not “for redemption, but for despair”. And yes, the New Jersey levels have at least contained some of the old feeling while Sao Paolo is a strange new world and Max tries to reinvent himself (by growing a beard and shaving his head). There is even closure at the end for once. So yes, maybe Rockstar tried to bring art into games once more after excelling in Red Dead Redemption … so let’s just give them credit for it.

However, story and characters are bland, and the gameplay relies too much on Call of Duty-like scripted events at virtually all times. And Max Payne 3 is alright but not that much fun to play: It’s simply cutscene after wave of enemies after cutscene after wave of enemies all over the place. The pace is simply not right. Look at Bulletstorm, Crysis 2, hell, even Duke Nukem forever was more fun to play (the latter at least until halfway through): The gameplay had a diverse feeling – one game was over the top, the other had an open world, the last one was retro … in contrast, Max Payne 3 simply does not stand out in any way. If it wasn’t for the name.

Rabidgames did actually give one fuck about the multiplayer of Max Payne 3. But after just a couple of matches, Rabidgames was bored to death. As the rest of Max Payne 3, it is just bloody generic.

Rabidgames’ hangover: Oh boy, Max Payne has become old. He turned in his individuality to change into one of the mainstream guys. Still, it’s not that he turned into a patriotic asshole or a dumb, obeying soldier. He’s still an alright buddy … but he lost his noir magic. He’s just one of the many faces who make a living saving the world nowadays, just worth paying a visit a once in a while but not worth hanging out with on a regular basis. At least, he hasn’t become a senile turd just like his old pay Duke has.

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