Just finished it on Hard. Well, actually not finished because I couldnt care to get through the last boss battle and just youtubed it. Because this is such a CINEMATIC game, you cant use the airplane mobile stairs to get the drop on the boss until the game lets you. If you go even slightly forward of the other enemies, insta-death. You HAVE to clear out those 20 other dudes or then its an insta-death whatever else you do. When you do the laborious chore of taking out everyone else, THEN the game puts you in a cinematic where Max jumps from those same mobile stairs and shoots out the grenade launcher of the boss to blow him up. Play this game exactly how the designers meant you to goddamnit, not make your own way and shorten down the boss to 5 seconds. Godawful level design coupled with the bad cover system and sluggish movement controls makes this one of the worst bosses in AAA games of this generation.
Max Payne 3 is awful from top to bottom. Not many people have said its an outright bad game, so Ill be the first. Its right up there with Assassins Creed 1 as one of the worst highly-rated AAA games Ive played this generation.
People saying it's a worthy successor are lying through their teeth. Some people on NeoGAF have even said its the best in the series!. Maybe he didnt like noir New York and the interesting characters as much and is more into suicidal, pathetic assholes who rip off Man on Fire.
I just dont understand how the few that have played it call it one of the best shooters. Maybe if you judge shooters by just enemy hit reactions and like to stare at animations. Yes, the Euphoria animation engine is great in some ways, but not in others.
Animation Priority: The Game
Putting Euphoria on the main character instead of just on the enemies like the sensible Star Wars Force Unleashed did, is one of the worst decisions Rockstar has made with their games this generation. Movement all around is sluggish, rife with that input lag and animation priority that I hate in cinematic games. This same kind of clunky movement is also in RDR and GTA 4, so its not like Euphoria is being used here as in-game characterization. Does this mean Euphoria is only fit for middle-aged characters? So I should only expect old people as protagonists in future Rockstar games? Well, there go any chances of Bully 2, then.
It makes shoot-dodging an even less viable strategy because you're knocking your head into walls and bits of cover in the already claustrophobic level design, where youre then forced into a stun loop while you clumsily pick yourself back up. This process of getting back up takes exactly THREE SECONDS.
It's made the worst when in "Last Stand" youre dealt a lethal shot, the camera jerks around sluggishly and you can only shoot that one person who shot you. You can't just kill anyone in your vicinity like the "Second Wind" of Borderlands games. You cant even RELOAD, so if you ran out of the clip before or during, youre shit out of luck and have to wait unceremoniously to slump over into death. You tell me how that makes sense. Last Stand is a straight up broken mechanic, and Im surprised it wasnt fixed in testing.
Oh, but sluggish Max Payne makes sense because hes old, right? No. Its inconsistent. Max does the most insane maneuvers here compared to even previous games. He dives from a collapsing water tower to jump across a whole rooftop, takes a sniper shot to the arm and just wraps it, or grabs onto a railing and crashes through a stadiums window knocking out an enemy in the process Rainbow Six-breach style. And even bigger drops from huge heights with zero repercussions unlike in Max Payne 2 where it served as a big dramatic moment to highlight his downward spiral.
Movement is so outdated. How many times did you use the "roll" button and not just as a cool animation for picking up a gun? I would only ever roll if when I ended up on prone, the distance was too far from cover to just press Q. If youre too far while prone, expect to be mashing up + roll + cover button to get back to safety. You can't even round covers, which should be a feature in every cover-based shooter (Mafia 2, Hitman Absolution, Deus Ex Human Revolution, Uncharted 2, etc).
To Slide Or Not To Slide Into Cover
People have actually said it's possible to play the game without ever using cover. Throwing around overly exaggerated numbers like 99% or whatever high number that fits your argument. The whole second half of the game with the favelas, Panama canals, and the rest of Sao Paulo, is just not possible to bypass cover because the level design gets even more constricted as you progress. Suppose you could in New York Minute or some other mode, but that means you have to memorize the enemy placements and level design by heart and have to do a second playthrough (who would do that with unskippable cutscenes?). If you can't play the game naturally on first playthrough without using cover for even 90% of the game, that means you have to use cover. Its an essential feature.
The game would incentivize you if you could bypass the cover system, like Vanquish does. Give you an achievement for not using cover for a whole level. I thought "Old School" difficulty would mean the game disabled cover, but nope. They designed the game around cover, so just accept it.
Maybe Remedy would implement a cover system in this modern age if they did Max Payne 3, but itd be a hell of a lot more effective.
You can tell Rockstar has never made a linear cover-based shooter. Or at least a competent one. The cover placement points make NO sense! You can not dive from cover to cover efficiently without scrambling to hit the cover button as Max takes his sweet time to get up. Sometimes you cant even dive forward from cover or this glitch business happens:
I got some shaking/stuttering game-ending cover glitches too.
The cemetery sniper bit of moving from one tombstone to another, the last boss battle, and many other places have really badly placed cover points. The level design is just not fit for moving from cover to cover. As evident in this gif:
How is this one of the best shooters when the only thing it gets right is enemy hit reactions but not player movement, monster closet enemy spawns, level design, cover systems, last stand, and having trite turret/sniper sections? I only liked the cinematic shooting moments because I didnt have to move Maxs slumbering ass at all.
Presumably if you havent played Max Payne 3, youve still heard about this. Theres way too many of them, they ruin the pacing and flow of the game, they look awful especially on PC with the jarring shifts from pre-rendered to in-game cinematics, and are pointless to be unskippable. No, theyre not loading the game. Yes, theyre a dealbreaker. This is so because it affects gameplay and replayability. A second playthrough is completely ruined, and the arcade mode doesnt do enough to bypass these issues. BTW, the checkpoints are also awful in that very modern way of making you replay a previous enemy encounter before where you died.
How it affects gameplay is because for some reason Max looooooves single-handed weapons and especially pistols for the very worst situations, so you end the cutscene with the least effective weapons. After every single cutscene (except for the very last one in the awful boss battle where he finally uses the double-handed weapon like my G6 Commando), I have to switch to either dual weapons or the rifle before I continue the fight. In quite a few fights, Maxs proclivity for single-handed weapons will lead to cheap deaths. Its a nuisance.
The awful Tony Scott (RIP) effects over them are just obnoxious and probably dangerous to photosensitive or epileptic gamers. Worse than Man on Fire, its taken to 11 without much context. They dont even make sense. Again, you think theyre there for narrative sense because they highlight Max as an alcoholic. But they still show up in the same frequency after you go sober and bald in the latter 3rd act. They would be fine if it was for a poignant moment, but theyre all over and not fun to watch. Even poor neogaf users like pa22word and Jubbly tried to fix this, but it wasn't successful. Rockstar never added this as a patch ala Dark Souls/Durante either.
You can't even access options during a cutscene when you pause it to maybe turn on subtitles, like the majority of games in existence.
Why are there fucking cutscenes for opening doors or climbing ladders? There are literally cutscenes just for these actions. Cant let me do those actions myself? Remedy only ever put cutscenes in their games for long conversations between characters or moving from one level to the next. Not for having Max doing mundane gameplay actions. OH WAIT I JUST FIGURED IT OUT!
As a joke, I would say going through doors are the actual enemies to Niko Bellic (GTA 4) and John Marston (RDR) because they hardly can get through in a clean sweep if you werent just walking. Rockstar (or Jason Bone, the lead designer) thought, man Euphoria fucks up movement through doors, so lets just dump cutscenes instead!. You can only walk through doors that dont have enemies on the other side, but no fuck you for deciding to go through yourself and plan a course of action like in previous Max Payne games. In previous games, you could see all the enemies in an area and had barely any monster closets like what Call of Duty and modern shooters go for nowadays. You could decide what you would want to do, how to take out those fools on the bottom in the amusement park of Max Payne 2. Here (outside of some parts in the favelas) they just pop out, and makes the world feel more game-y than lived-in.
Stop Telling Me To HURRY UP, BRO
The majority of the game, youll have either Passos or some other person always telling you to hurry up to get to the next part of the level. Its Escort Mission: The Game. And theyre dumb AI who never help you as evident in this clip and gif:
No exploring allowed on the job! There are even unspecified timed fail states to these. One fail state is so bad in the Cemetery that if you dont go into bullet time, Passos automatically dies. And yet the game has clues or collectibles throughout the levels, so what do you want me to do, Rockstar? I like golden guns, can I at least explore? I dont think even Call of Duty has this many fail states for idling.
The writers went to the trouble of writing 6-7 lines of idling from your escort NPC which while cool in its weird OCD way, is just plain overwriting to a point where I actually killed Passos, the IT guy, and Giovanna from time to time to shut them the fuck up. Max Payne also monologues about the idling, so yeah if you thought Nathan Drake was chatty, you havent seen anything yet.
Max narrates clues that you're examining, with again unskippable cutscenes! You're forced to stare at some texture, instead of having Max narrate it while you're still playing like any game that does audio diaries or narrating expository bits of the world or even just previous Max Payne games.
Uncharted: Among Assholes
Max Payne isn't Max Payne here, he's a Rockstar character. Hes an asshole among many assholes. Passos, with his overuse of the word bro only becomes likeable at the end in a cutscene because he exits the game never to bother the player ever again. Too little, too late. I love how Marcelo, easily the most hateful of the lot, is made even more hateful with a flashback after hes out of the picture. Theres a sub-plot where he loves some other woman (someone other than Daphne?), but it never goes anywhere. Max Paynes gullible errand boy kind of character makes game-sense in an open world of being an errand boy for quest givers, but here he seems like a dickless pussy where characters constantly shout at you for taking your time and not getting to some objective marker fast enough. Its so weirdly out of character compared to him in previous games where he was likeable while being sarcastic, self-deprecating, poetic, and full of dark comedy. Here, even his jokes sound like insults. I dont even get this line at the start:
"Very funny... Ha ha... Yes, that is a fake laugh, you jerk."
Is he talking to me, the player? To Passos? Is this the only bit of 4th wall breaking that was a staple of previous MP games? Is this a framed narrative where hes talking to someone while reminiscing the entire game? NOPE. Hes just an asshole.
Even more, he's a self-hating sad sack of shit who drinks a lot. He acts more Man On Fire than Max Payne. I know Rockstar loves them some movies, but its so blatant and character-breaking here.
The writers want to shove it in your face in case you forgot every 5 minutes that hes an asshole and an alcoholic. There should be AA(A) meetings for his kind. Oh, and hes constantly suicidal. Seriously, where is the suicide button? I just want to put him out of his misery. The ending doesnt even make sense in context to all this self-loathing. There are games where assholes as protagonists fit, Kane and Lynch for example. But Max Payne wasn't a douche to everyone in previous games, he made jokes and while self-deprecating he didn't keep on moaning. Previous games weren't as one-dimensional in their tone, thanks to Sam Lake's script. Here, Dan Houser brings all his typical social caricature, pop references, and modern cynicism that makes Max Payne more out to be the whinging grandpa in some sitcom that you just want to shut up.
The writers making the character an alcoholic feels so tedious. He's always fucking up stuff because of drinking. You're a bodyguard, your job is to protect people, and yet you're getting drunk on their time and money. Even Denzel Washington in Man on Fire only did that back in his apartment, not on the job. Making Max Payne out to be an unsympathetic person feels like such a cop-out to let him do stupid shit in service of the plot. Maybe James McCaffrey was just happy for the voice acting gig rather than questioning the continuity-breaking characterisation. He does some pretty contrived shit back in New Jersey so the writers can set the rest of the game in Brazil.
Ive got a fever and the only prescription is more Remedy!
One of my favourite bits about Remedys Max Payne games were the funny conversations enemies used to have to themselves. I love enemy chatter in NOLF, Riddick, the Darkness games, or many stealth games like Dishonored. Brings a certain level of believability to the world and at least you get a laugh from such violent games. Theyre hardly here, or if they are only Brazilians/Spanish gamers will get to understand them.
Hilarious how Take Two/Rockstar owns the Max Payne IP and yet still couldn't get the classic locked door sound effects of previous Max Payne games. Remedy even put them in Alan Wake as a signature touch for fans.
There are only two tv segments and theyre so disappointing. Even GTA 4 had better. Nothing comes close to Dick Justice, Address Unknown or Lords and Ladies. Max Paynes calls to a phone sex worker. Those little touches made Remedys work more notable, and made me love exploring every nook and cranny. Theres no identity to this game. It just rips off Man On Fire.
Why Does Max Payne 3 Exist?
The ending is so out of tone, almost Scooby Doo-ish, for a Max Payne game and even for his asshole, suicidal, drunk character in this game. I dont think the writers had even anything to say other than yo, gringos are dumb and angry. The only canon ending for Max Payne Ill accept is the one in Alan Wake with the late goodbye. That was clearly Remedys way of ending the character, and is more fitting than what we get with Rockstars Max Payne 3.
I can see why Rockstar was forgiven for being outdated in the gameplay for GTA 4 because it's a big open world and there was loads more to do than just combat. Red Dead Redemption had the hunting and exploring a western world, with a good story.
But here it's a linear shooter, and it's again outdated in its mechanics. Any new mechanics they added to the Max Payne formula like last stand and the cover system were badly executed. Heck, Spec Ops: The Line is better in this regard. Sleeping Dogs did more with its bullet time than Max Payne 3. Vanquish. Oh man, Vanquish. You get the jist.
Why does this exist? For Rockstar to have a game set in a creative new setting in Sao Paulo? But Call of Duty already did that with the favela levels. What was the spark here? To see a bald Max Payne? But we already had that trend with Splinter Cell and Breaking Bad. Or maybe Take-Two bought the Max Payne rights and hadnt done anything with it since 2004, so they just pumped out a sequel to get some returns. It sold horribly though, so I doubt a sequel will come. At least with Sam Lakes ending of the character, Im fine with no more of dearest of all my friends Max.
Its not that the design decisions (unskippable cutscenes, cover system, Euphoria, asshole protagonist, a suicidal alcoholic Max)are bad in themselves. Its that theyre executed in the worst possible ways. When I cant even appreciate the shooting mechanics, the one thing a lot of people praise about the game, what else is there? It was just no fun of an experience for me in any way. I dont even want to move Max! So yeah, if I can't appreciate the fundamental gameplay of a third person shooter, the story of a usually story-driven franchise, and this being an awful Max Payne game, I have to call out the game as bad.
I did enjoy spinning around Max to the tune of Kylie Minogue.
Who knew strippers in Max Payne 3 feared water? *NSFW*