Max Payne 3 Review: A Non-Stop Adrenaline Rush

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The Max Payne franchise has been on hiatus for quite a while with the last game coming out way back in 2003 for the original Xbox and PS2. The first game was both a critical and commercial success but the sequel Max Payne 2: The Fall Of Max Payne had very disappointing sales which lead to the franchise being put on the shelf for almost a decade. Fast forward to 2012 and Max is back in a big way. It seems that we have been waiting for Max Payne 3 forever with the game being delayed more times than we care to count. So after all these years and all the delays, was it worth the wait? Absolutely.

Max Payne 3 is the most action packed, adrenaline rush you will play this year hands down. I know that is a big thing to say in a year with new titles in several major gaming franchises but it’s the truth. This game NEVER has a dull moment, moving the player from one intense situation to the next. In Max Payne 3, we find Max doing private security work in Sao Paulo, Brazil for the Branco family. It was supposed to be an easy gig, but it turns out to be anything but.


On the combat front, this is no doubt the most superior in the franchise. Max can handle a dizzying amount of weapons, from the most basic handgun to the most high-powered sniper rifle. He can single or dual wield any combination of handguns and machine guns or take the two-handed approach for shotguns, rifles, and launchers. In most confrontations Max will be severely outnumbered and will need to use his entire arsenal to survive.

The enemies in Max Payne 3 are no joke, they really bring the fight to Max and will not just roll over for you. The enemies fall into two basic categories, street thugs and trained forces (police, paramilitary). While the sheer number of enemies in each category will challenge you, when you go up against trained forces the action gets kicked up a notch. They will use advanced tactics such as suppression and flanking to get the best of you. One of the great things about Max Payne 3 is the small things, like how enemies actually bob and weave as you try to lock in on them. Max can do some awesome things but he can die, most environments have plenty of cover, use it. There are some very frustrating challenging sections in the game that I would advise anyone playing to have patience with. Fools rush in and get smoked, smart guys evaluate the situation, develop a plan and then go about executing it.

My biggest tip in combat is that the majority of the enemies you will face are wearing body armor and it works. To counteract this, you need to either use Bullet Time to get head shots or unload on that enemy until you see the little X over them, if you think you shot someone wearing armor enough, shoot a bit more to be sure. My only other gameplay tip is to never let your guard down, in Max Payne 3 the guy who could blow your face off is ALWAYS right around the corner.


This is the first game in the franchise that wasn’t written by Sam Lake, who wrote the script for both of the previous titles. Dan Houser, a Rockstar mainstay and writer of most of the GTA franchise got the nod for Max Payne 3. There were concerns about whether he could deliver a story that was as compelling as the previous two, Houser does that and much more. Max Payne 3 could literally be a movie, it has so much depth and complexity.  For players not that familiar with the franchise, the story does a great job of explaining how Max got to this point by going back and putting the player in some of the key foundational story situations. It’s the perfect mix of old and new. The game also features one of the best scores/soundtracks I have ever heard in a video game, the music is completely in sync with the action that is happening on screen and further adds to the game’s cinematic qualities.


This is the first game to feature multiplayer and in true Rockstar it doesn’t disappoint. Players will be familiar with the style from games such as Uncharted but with a uniquely Max Payne twist. You get to leverage most of the core gameplay elements from the main game including Bullet Time. The mode is actually quite fun though if I had one gripe, it would be that players at the higher levels have a decided advantage over newcomers to the point where they get dominated in most head to head matchups. The game does try to compensate for this by having a rookie version of both the deathmatch and team deathmatch modes, but who wants to do that? That’s nitpicking, all in all it’s a solid mode that should only get better as additional DLC is released.


If I had to say I had one issue with the game, it’s the checkpoint system. When I talked about being patient during gun fights, I mean it. On more than a few occasions, you will have gotten through a tremendous gun battle and have no idea how the hell you survived it. Then a few seconds later you will get into another tremendous gun battle and die. Instead of starting from somewhere near where you were, you have to replay the whole section all over again. This makes the game quite a bit more difficult than it had to be. But then again maybe we have just been spoiled by other games recently that have taken it easy on us.


To sum things up, Max Payne 3 delivers on all fronts. Fans have had to wait quite a while to experience the next chapter in the Max Payne saga and it turns out to be the best yet. It’s a full on attack to the senses as bullets wiz by and things explode all around you. I think the team at Rockstar did a great job in updating the game to compete in today’s market while staying true to all the core elements of the franchise.

Even on medium difficulty this game will have you pulling your hair out, not so much in frustration as anger at yourself for knowing better when you try to press forward to0 quickly. The game isn’t tremendously long, but gives you a more than robust gaming experience. The bottom line is that this is definitely a GOTY candidate as we all expected, a true Rockstar experience. If you haven’t bought Max Payne 3, what the hell are you waiting for? With that said we give Max Payne 3 by Rockstar Games 9.5 out of 10.

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Lorenzo Winfrey

Lorenzo Winfrey

Editor-In-Chief at ZoKnowsGaming
I am the Co-Ceo of DLT Digital Media. We are a company that is focused on developing new and innovative web properties in addition to developing WordPress based web sites for others. But before I was all that, I was a gamer.
Lorenzo Winfrey