Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Everybody doesn't die

The House finale was not as depressing as it could have been, but it was also not as good as it should have been, which leaves me in the perfect mood to discuss the ending sequence of Max Payne 3: slightly annoyed and full of self loathing.

Actually, I am going to take two steps back and talk about what I really liked about the game. While I do not feel that the way the game looks or plays compares favorably to the first two titles, I must say that  the story itself, one of betrayal and depravity and a fat, bald gringo killing lots and lots of people, fits Max quite nicely. It is not the same as the more personal tale of vengeance from the second game, but it does take the character in a logical direction. Max moves from an alcoholic malaise to being really, really pissed off and sober by the time it is done, and this works so well because Max is written and voiced perfectly. I will not say that the writing is good, because in places it almost intentionally bad, but it is completely appropriate. Max talks to himself like a modern, gun toting Popeye the Sailor, telling the audience what he thinks and what he is going to do with as many metaphors as he can cram into a sentence.

Spoilers incoming.

The airport sequence did not change my mind about the cover system. It actually got worse, as enemies seemed to have gotten smarter and camped out behind bullet proof luggage carriers, refusing to pop out until I did so first, then shooting me for doing so. I recall one particularly annoying section, a two tiered area full of conveyor belts. I had enemies camped out on the catwalks, just waiting for me to lean out and take a shot or grab some ammo. It was too congested to run or jump, so it turned into a waiting game. A waiting game where my choices were wait, die, or just maybe get lucky. This was not a good time.

There was one shining moment, though, right at end before one final (boring) rail shooter segment. Max had a luggage train for cover and at least a dozen or so guys surround him. After killing those a jeep arrived full of more, and the entire time someone is lobbing grenades at you. It was frantic; I had to move constantly, pick and choose when to duck behind cover, kill enemies quickly and accurately and manage my ammo and bullet time. It was easily the best set piece encounter of the whole game, and I did it on the first try. It was not easy, but it was fair. Enemies were held to same rules as I was. It was all so wonderfully cramped that shoot dodging worked exactly the way it should. I was not getting sniped by enemies that I could not see, I was not running into chest high walls, I was killing mans in slow motion, and for the first and only time everything clicked all at once.

I wish it had done this more often. I did not start our with the intention of disliking Max Payne 3, but I certainly held it to a higher standard than the usual dreck I play. Perhaps this is not fair, as Remedy has nothing to do with this game. If I think of it more as Rockstar's modern interpretation of someone elses work I am slightly less disappointed.


Still, fuck the cover system. If I wanted that I would play the new Ghost Recon game, whenever that comes out. Which I won't.

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