Max Payne 3 and Tropa de Elite

Nov 16, 2013

I recently finished Max Payne 3. (According to Steam, it took 17 hours.)

I really liked the first two games in the series, but knew that third one would be a major departure. It’s built by a different team and happens in a different place, years after the events of the first series.

Yet, when I now look back, I feel that it was more of a continuation of the series than I was expecting. Payne voice acting is by the same guy, the bad humor and painkillers are still there, a lot of the mechanics (bullet time) is true to the series’ legacy. Could have been much worse.

Game play wise, this is one of the most tactical shooters I’ve played recently. You really need to use the environment, cover and bullet time to your advantage. If you just run into a situation openly, you’ll get killed in no time, as you can only take a few hits. However, “last stand” is a cool mechanic to recover from this situation: when you get killed but still have painkillers left, you have an opportunity to kill the guy who almost-killed you, and then live on.

Here are some videos about the visuals and game mechanics.

Crossplatform dind’t work for me

One of the supposedly cool things was that the game eventually got released on both Windows and Mac on Steam. (Initially it was Windows-only.) You could play on any platform and share the savegames.

Well, for whatever reason, it just didn’t work. The Windows version (in Windows 7 with Bootcamp on Retina Macbook Pro) ran flawlessly. The Mac version had crappy frame rates, no matter how I tweaked it, and didn’t pick up the save games. I saw some patches published later for it, but it was too late for me then. Maybe it got fixed. But crossplatform gameplay on Steam seems to still be tricky.

Tropa de Elite

On the game’s Wikipedia page, the developers recommend Tropa de Elite, a famous recent Brazilian action movie, that depicts how the special police forces cleans up the favelas in big cities.

I was intrigued, as a lot of Max Payne 3’s action takes place in this exact environment, and the producers had cited this movie as a big inspiration. I wanted to see how close these things really are.

Well, they’re close and I think the producers did a great job. The ambience in the game is very similar to what you see in the movie, with all the Portuguese shouting, tight spaces, destructible environment, lighting, and other aspects. It really does feel like you’re right in that movie when you play. Only, unlike the movie, the game is much more ambiguous about who are the good or bad guys.

Recommendation

I do recommend you play the game if you were a fan of the first two games. It does take and expand the series in a new direction, but it’s a direction that I feel does justice to the legacy of the first two.