We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. If you continue to use this site, we'll assume you're happy with this. Alternatively, click here to find out how to manage these cookies

hide cookie message
PC games software Reviews
15,650 Reviews

Max Payne 3 review

£28 inc VAT

Manufacturer: Rockstar Games

Our Rating: We rate this 4 out of 5

A mid-life crisis on the sun-kissed, gang-wracked streets of Brazil.

Best known as a noir tale of a haunted cop delivering brutal justice to the streets and warehouses of New York, it turns out shooting hundreds of men in slow-motion is as well suited to broad daylight in Rio de Janeiro as it is to permanent twilight in the Big Apple.

A third-person action adventure, Max Payne 3 is almost equal parts shooting and storytelling. No real knowledge of the previous games is required - all you need to know is that Max is a bitter, middle-aged ex-cop who's moved to Brazil to work as private security for the super-wealthy. Before too long, kidnappings and assassinations see him up to his neck in blood, not to mention nursing potentially crippling addictions to booze and painkillers.

Fortunately, he's able to tap into his own adrenaline to enter a bullet-time slo-mo mode, which is there for dramatic multi-man take-outs and tactically dealing with overwhelming odds rather than having any illusions about making narrative sense. So it's business as usual for Max Payne, really, but with brighter shirts, sunshine and a targeting system which offers far more freedom of aiming and precision than third-person shooters have previously.

On a high-end PC, it's one of the most incredible-looking games of this generation, rendering faces and hair with spectacular, gorgeous detail. There's a sadness in this, in that it offers such a wonderful world but all you can do is repeatedly shoot infinite armies of Brazilians with machineguns in it. A similarly uncomfortable juxtapositions exists in the dissonance between action and narrative. Max can soak up a thousand bullets to the head in the game proper, but a single shot to the arm in a cutscene has him staggering and near to death. On top of that, the over-regular interruption of the action with yet another lovingly-rendered talky sequence really mucks up the game's flow at times. If only it spent even a fraction of the effort and time it puts into jabbering away into more diverse challenges.

Also getting in the way of what should be insistent forward progress is a smattering of collectibles and 'grinds', specific challenges such as slo-diving for x seconds, which can mean Max is too busy rummaging through trash or pointlessly jumping off ledges when he's supposed to be saving someone's wife from certain death or fleeing an exploding building. Still, this does mean replay value.

Max Payne 3

As it is, Max Payne winds up being a somewhat vanilla, bang bang bang action game that just about manages to be memorable thanks to the gorgeously-detailed technicolour location and Max's reimagined role as a charming grump. His wry moaning is a constant, welcome companion, and being a middle-aged ex-pat rather than a tortured cop frees him from stereotype. There's less "oh, my poor family" and more "these kids today, with their noisy dance music." He's remarkably fleshed-out for a character who began life as a cop movie pastiche.

The same's true of the game as a whole. Where once it was essentially all about Matrix-aping slow motion and a fluttering raincoat, now it's a meaty, serious shooter with a semi-believable setting. It's also reasonably challenging, which has become a sad rarity for shooters' singleplayer modes of late.

Max Payne 3 Expert Verdict »
Available on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC. PC system requirements: OS: Windows 7 32/64 Service Pack 1, Windows Vista 32/64 Service Pack 2, Windows XP 32/64 Service Pack 3 Processor: Intel Dual Core 2.4 GHZ - i7 3930K 6 Core x 3.06 GHZ / AMD Dual Core 2.6 GHZ - FX8150 8 Core x 3.6 GHZ Memory: 2GB - 16GB Hard Disk Space: 35 Gigs Video Card: NVIDIA® 8600 GT 512MB VRAM – NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 680 2GB VRAM / Radeon HD 3400 512MB VRAM - Radeon HD 7970 3GB VRAM Sound Card: 100% Direct X 9.0 compatible – Direct X 9.0 compatible supporting Dolby Digital Live
  • Overall: We give this item 8 of 10 overall

Max Payne 3 spends more time and energy than it needs to trying to be a movie, when really it would be far better off not interrupting its own finely-tuned action. At least the well-observed writing keeps Max a sympathetic and refreshingly grumpy protagonist, and you just can't argue with the bravura graphical quality.

There are currently no price comparisons for this product.
  • WET review

    WET

    Guns, grindhouse violence, car-hopping, and Eliza Dushku. Outside of a few gameplay quirks, it's pretty hard to go wrong. But is WET a winner for gamers? Read our review to find out.

  • Call of Juarez: The Cartel review

    Call of Juarez: The Cartel

    A by-the-books shooter from beginning to end, Call of Juarez: The Cartel swaps the Wild West setting and interesting characters of its predecessors to become a stale, but serviceable, shoot-'em-up.

  • Alien Breed 3: Descent review

    Alien Breed 3: Descent

    Alien Breed is a franchise that's been around for a long time, and it's the kind of game that will always have an audience. Alien Breed 3: Descent is a game for PC, PS3 or Xbox 360.

  • Bangai-O Spirits review

    Bangai-O Spirits

    If your idea of a quality shooter includes unconventional gameplay, a ludicrous story and non-stop action then Bangai-O Spirits has your name written all over it.

  • Grand Theft Auto IV review

    Grand Theft Auto IV

    Grand Theft Auto is many things: a popular video game and a controversial subject, among others. It's also a brilliant satire wrapped in an ingenious crime story inside an interactive masterpiece. It really is.


IDG UK Sites

Windows 9 release date, price, features: Microsoft teases new OS ahead of 30 September unveiling

IDG UK Sites

From the iPhone 6 to the iWatch and a new Apple TV we look at the products Apple is set to launch...

IDG UK Sites

September 2014 creative trends: 5 things you must see

IDG UK Sites

What to expect from Apple in autumn/winter 2014: iPhone 6, iPhone Air, iWatch, iPad 6, new Apple...