by Josh Butler
previewed on PC
They were all dead...
…the final gunshot was an exclamation mark to everything that had led to this point. I released my finger from the trigger, and then it was over.
Those words first opened Max Payne on PC in July 2001. 11 years later they are still as melodramatic as the modern day tale of Norse mythology that followed. Featuring a head-scratching plot and the opportunity to enjoy ballistic bullet-time gun-play, Max Payne was satisfying every gamer’s urge to recreate The Matrix’s classic lobby scene two long years before Enter The Matrix would try and fail.
Now, with only a solid sequel and a poor movie adaptation to punctuate the intervening decade, Rockstar Vancouver have developed a third game for Remedy’s acclaimed series. The third-person shooter is undeniably a different proposition to those of the early millennium, with cover-shooting and roadie runs superseding slow-motion diving as the shooter feature du jour, while trench coats have long since been rejected in favour of space marine helmets. Max Payne 3, therefore, brings the haggard NYPD cop out of retirement only to be confronted by an unfamiliar world – but can he adapt, or is he getting too old for this s#!t?
Eight years after the events of The Fall of Max Payne, Max finds himself in Sãu Paulo, working security detail for Rodrigo Bronco, a wealthy man of questionable morals. When Fabiana Bronco – Rodrigo’s wife – is kidnapped, Max is tasked with her safe return and must delve in to a world of corrupt police, para-military and favela street gangs to discover who has taken her and why. After leaving the hard-boiled streets of New York, Max trades down for a very different kind of lawlessness in Brazil’s dark underbelly.
It is a fantastic plot to drop us in to the world. Max Payne is a man who knows the pain of losing those closest to him, yet the weary resignation with which he accepts his mission is indicative of how the events of the previous games have worn away at his capacity for empathy. Max is in a darker place than ever before, scraping the very bottom of the barrel. Where the painkillers of previous games were a pragmatic solution to health pick-ups in the world (cheesy catchphrase “Pills will ease the pain” notwithstanding) they are now a symptom of Max’s high-functioning substance-abuse problem – and if he’s going to get Fabiana back, he is going to need a lot of them.
Early demos show Max entering in an abandoned football stadium to negotiate the return of Rodrigo’s wife. But before he can deliver the ransom, a third-party storms the building in attempt to intercept the money for themselves and Max must shoot through both parties to get to the exit.