by Matthew Fletcher
previewed on PS3
Baby Got Back...
Twelve years have passed since we last saw Max in action. Now, thirty pounds later and thousands of miles away, we find Max in another gorgeous offering from Rockstar, who seem to be incapable of putting a foot wrong.
Time has not treated poor old anti-hero Max Payne well. His wiry body is no more and some might even call him fat. His bull neck is responsible for his lack of success with the ladies and his hair has receded up to the point that it is more prudent to simply shave it off. All of this may be true but don’t believe for a second that this bothers him or even that he has lost his mojo. Quite the contrary, Max can still kick some serious butt.
The game is set in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Max, after being let go from the New York Police Department over a decade ago, is making ends meet working in the security sector of a rich Brazilian family. Looking a little worse for wear, this latest offering sees Max taking on a new persona. Gone are the tie and the black coat and the dress shoes have been replaced as well. Appearing as if he has stolen the wardrobe of a hot dog or kebab vendor, ol' Maxi boy is seen rockin' a god-knows-what stained white shirt with the sleeves cut off, nice pair of timeless Khaki cargo's, and kicking around in a pair of steel cap boots. And while his belly betrays a love of beer, he certainly sports enough muscle to carry it around with him.
Max decides to make ends meet by messing about in the Sao Paulo underworld through his new gig as ‘muscle-for-hire’, or ‘private security’ if you will. If this isn’t tempting the god of luck, I don’t know what is. Wherever Max goes, trouble is sure to find him so, dreg magnet that he is, he really does not need to find any himself.
Shaping Sao Paolo
Rockstar seem to have captured both the beauty and danger of Sao Paulo, full of jaw dropping landscapes. Behind this beauty lies the darker side of the city: the slums. Every alley down every shanty holds drug dealers, kidnappers, murderers and thugs. Fans of the series will note that this is the only constant in all 3 Max Payne games. Where Max Payne 1 and 2 boast the scum of the underworld of New York City, set in drab, rainy weather, and a real 'Frank Miller' feel of things, Max Payne 3 is the exact opposite. High-rise buildings and office skyscrapers have been replaced by wooden shacks and tin roof sheds. To make the situation even more explosive, the reliable and law abiding NYPD have made room for the near 100% corrupted Sao Paulo Police. There couldn't be a more perfect place for Max to want to hole up in, the best place to battle a painkiller addiction!
Indeed, Max is still very much addicted. This is but one of many points in which – unlike many sequels in other series – Max Payne 3 follows the story started by its predecessors. And although Max Payne 3 looks completely different in every possible way to its predecessors, it still keeps the things that made the previous games so damn addictive, like the epic dives and rolls and awesome bullet time mechanics that made the whole Max
Payne franchise the success that it is.
Using modern day gaming technology, Max Payne builds upon these with adding a ton of detail such as empty shell casings flying out of firearms, weapon recoil and incredible detail to the environment and the inhabitants of Sao Paulo. Despite all these changes, Rockstar has taken great care to stay true to the feel and aesthetics of the previous games.
Rockstar Vancouver have described this outing as, and I quote, “Max's last chance for salvation” but they are certainly taking their time to deliver that chance into our hands. Worse still is how slowly information has trickled down to the internet and the numerous delays. The release date has been pushed back several times and the game is now set for August. So all you eager little 'Maximillionites' will have to keep your gaming hands warm and your trigger fingers primed for a few more months. Is the suspense killing you? It definitely is killing me.