- Written by biXen
Preview of Single player - by Kristian
Now let's first make it clear, I was struggling to complete the levels we could play because I had the game on "free aim", not "soft-lock" (baby mode) like Patrick (to be honest I may be using soft-lock when I play the full game though). It always takes me some time to get the hang of free aim. Now that that is out of the way, let's move on to my experience with Max Payne 3's three levels that were playable for me.
I sat down in a comfortable chair with the controller and started the game. It started with a long cutscene with a thirsty Max being disturbed by a gang of gun happy thugs (yeah, I'm dumbing it down a bit). The cutscenes weave perfectly in with the gameplay. Now I don't know if they technically made the cutscenes into HD video files (could explain the game's huge filesize at 35GB on PC) but it's all made in-game and it makes the transition from cutscene to gameplay extremely fluid. The story telling is extremely cool, like a beefed up version of RDR's way of telling stories. We were playing in the same room as 15-16 other people so it was a bit hard to catch all of the dialogue, but the game sounds and looks stunning and James McCaffrey probably had more work here than ever before!
I want to clear a couple of fan concerns out of the way right away. Just because Max is in Brazil doesn't mean he's chilling on the beach in the sun with cold drinks. This game is dark, gritty, violent and rough! R* have reportedly mentioned its length at 7-10 hours. I think that depends on difficulty and whether you play with free aim or soft-lock on console. Having said that, I struggled at a few points, especially in the stadium level. That did give me a chance to replay and approach things differently, it also revealed that enemies don't behave in the same way from one time to the next which heightens replayability. I will also say this, if you stand behind cover and think you'll get a rest, forget about it. Some enemies will hide, some will rush at you like mad men.
The controls are fluid, and Max feels more weighty than the previous games (and perhaps comparable games). I was having a shootout with a couple of guys in a kitchen and shoot-dodged over the "kitchen island" in the middle of the room while I shot the enemy, it looked incredibly cool, and the way Max landed and got up from that looked flawless. You can feel him thump into things and get knocks. There was a few times where the transition animations failed a bit, but that was rare and it's impossible to cover ALL cases. Usually though, anything you do transitions perfectly into the next thing you do as can be seen in the Tech videos Rockstar have released.
I must admit that before I played the game I was a bit worried that this old run and gun recipe might have grown a bit stale. After all it's 9 years since the previous game. That worry is gone now though, the changes Rockstar have made are perfect, and it was incredibly fun. Replaying things which is something I hate in games (I'm a bit impatient) was totally cool here, after all it was just more people to shoot in slow motion. With all due respect to my friends in Remedy, there's nothing they could do here that Rockstar haven't done. The story telling which was a big concern may not be as heavy on the metaphors judging from the portion we played, but it's still noir and gritty, and very personal from Max. This isn't some quick money milking, it's a proper modernization of an old excellent recipe of a third-person shooter. It was delayed because they took their time. And it works, and I can't wait for 18th of May (European release date).
The amount and quality of cutscene storytelling material overwhelmed me, positively. There's a lot of throw backs to the old games to please us fans just in the stuff I saw. I can't and wouldn't want to tell you what, but if you're an old time fan you'll be happy! When this game is released I'll get rid of any plans, turn up the volume on the 5.1 system and enjoy myself immensely.