Max Payne 3

His wife and baby daughter have been slaughtered by junkies, and he’s been accused of a murder he didn’t commit, forced into a hallucinogenic drug-fuelled nightmare, betrayed by those he trusted and marched out of the New York police force. He’s even been played on-screen by Marky Mark in a film adaptation that has a Metacritic percentile average of 31. Max Payne has every right to be cynical. If you couldn’t tell by checking his biography, you should look at his new bald, bearded and grumpy face in Max Payne 3, as seen plastered all over this page. He even wears a grubby white sleeveless T-shirt because he’s that angry.

To fuel his resigned fury even further, Max has been working as a security contractor in Sao Paulo, Brazil, mingling with unsavoury types. He has also become addicted to the very painkillers that boosted his health through his first two games. We can now reveal that the reports that Max Payne 3 will be a gardening simulation set in a retirement community in Miami have been wildly exaggerated. This new and sweaty Max Payne is going to kill a lot of people in slow-mo, and he’s going to do it while looking like a failed wrestler who has picked up a job protecting a C-list celebrity.

Since he first dived forward with two guns blazing as time ran at a reduced rate, everyone has joined in, from Persian princes to race drivers. ‘Bullet-time’ is the very definition of passé these days. You’ll be pleased to know that Max can now do the incredible and ‘take cover’ behind objects and even capture villains and use them as ‘human shields.’ Max hasn’t spent the last six years mourning his former glory – he’s been playing 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand. He can now even dispatch enemies using quick-time events. What next?

Even the blind will know Mr. Payne is still not a happy man. He’s going to have more spoken internal monologue than ever, so expect him to moan about fortnightly bin collections and how Mars bars are smaller than ever while he stomps his way through shanty towns and the mansions of criminals, destroying the environment and killing every living thing between him and the level’s end.

These Brazilian locales remind us of Uncharted 2 and look just peachy, but it’s the animation of the killing that’s going to add further perverse pleasure to this stylish butcher’s yard. Bodies will react to bullets using the same animation systems found in GTAIV and so no two deaths will look the same. You won’t have to look hard to tell, because slow-mo porno-kills are as much a part of the show as ever.

There’s been a big uproar over the new direction Rockstar is taking with Max Payne. The cold streets of New York have been replaced by heated shootouts in the shade of palm trees. But let’s be honest, there wasn’t much else to Max Payne other than a slick noir look and violent slow-mo shooting while a man’s rendered, constipated face muttered stuff like, “I had a dream of my wife. She was dead.”

So is this new game really taking a major shift in direction? The gameplay would seem to be ticking the boxes while adding new gimmicks to the action like destructible environments. It may be less King of New York and more Scarface, but there’s the same amount of violence, slow-mo and pained expressions as before. This new Max should have some counseling. Nothing’s changed.

Jul 22, 2009