I was an absolute numpty a few months ago and bought myself a copy of Max Payne 3 for 360 not knowing that it wasn’t backwards compatible. Lo and behold, they enabled it a few days ago, so I’ve gotten to dive back into one of my favourite games.
First things to address, everyone who took issue with the frequency and implementation of the cutscenes is a boring youtuber type guy who gets mad when the FOV isn’t 140. The ‘it takes control away from the player’ argument is such a tired one and in Max Payne 3’s case, completely undermined by the fact that Tony Scott movies fucking rule.
Max Payne 3 has such a pace to it as a result of the fact that all you do is kill and watch Rockstar’s best Man on Fire homage. It’s such a propulsive game because it doesn’t hew to the Naughty Dog/Call of Duty action game orthodoxy of Pixies pacing: Loud > Quiet >Loud. It just seethes along nicely, and then the quietest moments are when the game is pouring scorn on both Max and the game’s own existence.
If I have a problem with it, it’s maybe that all the weapon handling is very goofy with the benefit of hindsight. Max doesn’t have an invisible backpack of guns, so any rifles are carried in one hand while firing pistols. Dual wield and Max drops whatever rifle he was holding in the off-hand. Problem is, Max always transfers to a pistol for the incredibly frequent cutscenes, so you’re constantly transferring back to your shotgun or rifle when the game transitions back to gameplay. It makes him seem super indecisive? It’s kind of endearing though.
Similarly, all weapon types share the same ammunition. A beretta takes the same rounds as an 8-round(?) revolver. A G36 takes the same rounds as a FAL, to the point where they both have the same armour penetration (which becomes a big deal towards the end of the game) . The animations for tactical and empty reloads are the same. I know this is all extremely lame gun-nerd shit but this game is really into the fact that it models every individual bullet and shows that shit off in slow-motion. That being said, those slow-motion kill cams are so stupid and gnarly that I can’t help but giggle whenever they hit.
In a lot of ways, the aspects of this game that people all agreed were really impressive at the time like the weapon modelling and the animation don’t really impress like they used to, while the stuff that was polarising has aged like wine. If this game was released today it would be right in line with where we’re at culturally in terms of attitudes to wealth, colonialism, and American empire. I’m alternating between watching Succession and playing MP3, and that shit is harmonious.
It’s also a game that simultaneously could only be made with a Rockstar budget AND the only game in their catalogue that actually walks the walk when it comes to the satire/critique elements. Well, there’s Manhunt of course a.k.a the second best Rockstar game. It’s also the last Rockstar game where they clearly felt they had something to prove, which is the saving grace of all of their pre- GTA V output.
I still love Max Payne 2 a bit more because I’m a freak who likes post-modernism, but Max Payne 3 holds the fuck up.