35 Reviews

Max Payne 3 review: Slick, bloody, beautiful... but not without its flaws

Rockstar's reinvention rated...

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In Payne Killer, one player becomes Max, and another becomes his buddy from the story, Passos. Both these players have better weapons, longer bullet time, and the ability to use painkillers - but are displayed on the HUD for everyone to see. It's the other players' job to take them down and become Payne, or Passos, themselves. It's loads of fun, and incredibly frenetic. Becoming Max or Passos and seeing every player on the map rush towards you is a panic-inducing moment.


Gang Wars is a series of rapid-fire objective-based team games. In each round, the game chooses randomly from a selection of 12 possible modes and puts you through them in quick succession. Survivor gives each team limited lives; Last Man gives you only a single life; Takedown designates a target that one team has to protect, and the other has to kill; Grab sees you stealing an enemy's bag and delivering it to your base. The way it mixes these modes up keeps things entertaining, and it's a more tactical alternative to Payne Killer. For most, Gang Wars will be the main reason to play online.

How does bullet time work online, though? Well, when you use it while aiming at another player, their game slows down too, but other players on the map see you both moving at normal speed. Some incomprehensible technical wizardry makes this possible, and the most important thing is it works really well - just like multiplayer as a whole. You can create custom loadouts, change your appearance, and select from a range of Bursts (perks essentially) that grant you special abilities in combat, like conjuring up a grenade launcher, or making enemy players appear on your map when your team mates encounter them.


In the end, it's the polish and production values that will keep you playing. It only does one thing, but it at least does it extremely well, and the action is backed by a spectacular, ethereal score from noise-rock band HEALTH. Fans will miss the oddball, fourth wall-shattering humour, but there are enough references to keep us sweet - the classic theme tune, James McCaffrey's gravelly narration, the ugly tie - and Max Payne 3 remains, in most respects, a quality shooter. Just prepare for the long haul - and don't expect any great depth or variety along the way.

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The verdict

A slick, violent shooter, made with Rockstar's trademark style and panache. But it's marred by a lack of variety and an overlong story.

  • Ultra-polished shooter, packed with visceral, brutal shootouts
  • Looks beautiful, with outstanding attention to detail
  • Euphoria physics bring every firefight to life
  • Great multiplayer
  • Far too long - after 6-7 hours, you've seen everything it has to offer
  • Not enough depth to the combat
  • Feels a little one-note
Xbox 360