Well here’s a first – an Ed Uncovered game review. And why the hell not? This blog’s covered everything from pish-stained nightclubs to planking in its time; to dissect Max Payne 3 in all its cartilage-cracking glory seems like a natural progression.
Besides, MP3 – lest we forget – is produced by Rockstar Games, whose Scottish division – Rockstar North – is responsible for the legendary Grand Theft Auto series. The global success of the Rockstar dynasty can rightfully be regarded as one of Edinburgh’s finest achievements (or Dundee’s finest, for those of you desperate to claim an accolade other than Scotland’s Teen Pregnancy Capital). Max Payne 3 is largely the work of the Scots developers’ sister outfit – Rockstar Vancouver. However, the apple never falls too far from the tree with Rockstar. Thus, the Max Payne trilogy contains all the staples that made the GTA series so wildly popular – namely fuck-tons of violence, bad language, sex, drugs and ill behaviour.
Created by the same writer who scripted the Grand Theft Auto games, it’s no surprise that MP3 invokes GTA’s call to arms: namely a call to arms. Sticking with the maxim ‘If it ain’t broke, shoot it’, the game compels you to leave your morals in a box under the bed before taking a dump, sparking a fat zoot and climbing into your battle-station to commence 72 hours of all-out warfare. Download Max Payne 3 on a Friday and you’re guaranteed to be phoning in sick on Monday. Once you’re locked in to Max’s dystopian world, there’s no escaping until vengeance has been wreaked. If MP3 was a book, it would be unputdownable, but it’s not – it’s a game that’s unnotplayable.
If Max Payne 3 was any more addictive, it would come in powder form.
You could throw your life away playing this game, and you wouldn’t even notice. One moment you’re a smarmy Marketing Manager on 24k a year dating a tubby blonde with ace tits; the next you’re shivering alone in a grubby bedsit, Bullet Timing bitches in slow-mo while you speed dial for pizza. Who needs awesome chebs to play with when you can cap three mofes with one clip and scratch your balls simultaneously? Who’s the loser now, huh?
Face it: Max Payne 3 is far realer and far more satisfying than your cosseted 9-5 existence will ever be, so why resist? It’s not as if you’re missing out on anything better IRL. Plug in, zone out and choose your own reality. Fuck the real world with their grey office cubicles, council tax bands and credit scores. None of that matters when you’re immersed in MP3 – you’ve got more pressing concerns to deal with, like fighting your way out of the favela. Round here, the locals are so bad-ass, they don’t even pay council tax – that’s just how they roll.
Enter a World of Payne
He may sound like the type of porn star who tears ass for a living, but Max Payne hails from a far less respectable profession – the police. His career to date goes something like this:
- Max Payne (2001): He mad.
- Max Payne 2 (2003): He madder.
- Max Payne 3 (2012): Oh, he real mad.
Nine years have passed since Max played an NYPD detective, capping bad guys in slo-mo with the aid of Bullet Time, which proved to be a defining feature of MP2. Now Max is back, a lot older and a lot madder.
This time around, our protagonist switches from executive security guard to grizzled mercenary as he battles Brazilian street gangs and shady South American cartels, though in all honesty he could be taking on an army of Anne Franks and you’d still merrily pull the trigger without asking questions. Does anyone really care who the bad guys are in these games? So long as there’s some sort of easily-identifiable foe willing to take vast quantities of lead to the face, it’s immaterial.
Besides, it’s not your job to question the morality of our protagonist. You’ve already paid £30 to download the game – it’s too late to start having pangs of conscience. Just lock and load and watch your goddamn six.
Bem-vindo ao Sao Paulo, Puta
If you’ve ever been to hell, you’ll know that it’s not a very nice place. If you’ve ever played Max Payne 3 however, you’ll appreciate that some places are worse than hell. Like every-god-damn-where Max lays his hat. This guy attracts more trouble than Garry O’Connor on a Tuesday night. Thankfully, Max proves to be far deadlier over 300 yards, although even O’Connor would probably shift up a gear if he had the Comando Sombra hard on his tail. These guys like to shoot first, take your drugs later. Killing’s not felt this gratuitous since George Zimmerman took an exception to Skittles. Bullet Time aka ‘Fuck Me This is Fun’ Time is back, and it’s orgasmically fun, like having a chokey bum wank while high on nox.
It’s less fun for poor Max though, who brings a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘Bad day at the office’. Actor James McCaffrey, who voices Max throughout the trilogy, now works in a full-time capacity for Rockstar performing motion capture – further evidence that movies are steadily being usurped by video games. As the archetypal washed-up cop, Max ruminates wistfully in sozzled tones that are lower than a snake’s belly. This is the gravelled voice of a man who gargles with whisky and smokes 20 Marlboro reds before breakfast. His wit is dry, his talk peppered with sardonic, self-deprecating jibes: “But I’d take a shot in the head to a slow roast over a spit any goddamn day of the week,” he scowls. It’s Sin City meets Vice City. It’s flawed hero meets disposable villains. And more to the point, it’s bloody good. Real bloody, and real good.
To call this game cinematic would be underselling it – MP3 is not so much film-like as life-like – provided your life is one endless blur of blood spatter and high octane. The fight scenes are so convincing that when Max takes a bullet, you instinctively recoil; when he ogles a gyrating stripper, you spring a semi.
There’s real, and then there’s MP3 real. The nightclub scenes are so real, it feels like you’ve just boshed a couple of swedgers and taken a lapdance from your girlfriend’s best mate while she’s away at the bar. Yes, it’s that good.
In those rare moments when the bad guys are kind enough to stop peppering you with lead, the game lays on some spectacular scenery, with intricate cityscapes and the sort of blissful sunsets that make you wanna find a nice girl, settle down, have a couple of kids and endure a lifetime of sporadic sex in the missionary position.
As you prowl through the most insalubrious parts of Sao Paulo, a cacophony of sounds emerges from the twisted backstreets and alleyways where shadows are long and danger lurks behind every corner. Street kids chatter and hustle for change; old women gossip as they sit in the sun. And all the while, bullets interspersed with Portuguese invectives whistle past your ear and smack into the masonry. The menacing Brazilian voices – foreign threats uttered in an unfamiliar tongue – only add to the all-pervading sense of dread that stems from being cast adrift in a hostile land where the locals are fighting over your entrails.
This game is creepy. In fact it’s eerie. It’s eerier than creeping through a graveyard in the dead of night to exhume a fresh corpse and make sweet love to its eye socket. It’s that kind of eerie.
At other times, it’s frantic. Bodies slump sickeningly, heads ricocheting off fences and face-planting against concrete. Arterial blood gushes like water from a broken fire hydrant while bullet holes puncture deep into bone and tissue with a resounding thud.
If you’ve been raised on a diet of snuff movies and gore from a young age, MP3 is hardly gonna cause you to wet the bed (blame your dad for that). For Max Payne n00bs, however, there’s bound to be the odd kill scene to make the guys grimace and the girls go ‘Ewwie!’ in that cute way girls do that only makes you wanna piece them more, if only you weren’t such a hardcore gamer and hopeless virgin.
Max Payne 3 is impeccably scripted, with sharp dialogue that’s more self-aware than an EU game review. “I had a liver like a french goose and skin like red leather” drawls Payne in a voice lower than dubstep. Whether you’ll still be playing this game in six months’ time is debatable. But like that dirty blonde you locked eyes on in the club, you couldn’t care less about where the pair of you will be six months from now – all that matters is the next 12 hours of titty-banging fun.
For the record, this game review was a collab between EU Employees of the Month #1 and #2 (joint winners for the 16th month running, no less). I wrote the words while my gaming partner dropped bodies and filmed the carnage, the video of which is featured below. I’d been hoping to wind up the review by soliciting his thoughts on the actual gameplay of MP3. Unfortunately, conversation was stilted due to the fact that my colleague was baw-deep in cleansing the favela and didn’t want to be disturbed. Indeed, the only lucid sentence I managed to tease out of him all evening was ‘Fuck sake, I’m fucking drilling the cunt, ooft!’ It was at that point that I shoved the waste bin under his chair, ordered him to piss into it, and emptied the golden contents before going to bed.
This is my first attempt at game reviewing, and I’m assuming I’m supposed to sign off here with some sort of rating. I’ve never done this before, but here goes:
★ If Max Payne 3 was an item of household linen, it would be a pillow that stays cold on both sides.
★ But it’s not, it’s a computer game, which is why the only logical solution is to rate this game out of 79. The Ed Uncovered review team hereby awards MP3 73/79. Why? Because, like Max Payne himself, our job entitles us to do whatever the hell we want. U jelly?
Max Payne 3 Game Footage