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Bullet-time cannot be spoken of without mentioning Max Payne. The original game introduced the slow motion, diving and action-packed shooting that we were treated to in films like The Matrix. Max Payne quickly became the godfather of slow-mo shooting, which has been reproduced countless times in hundreds of games over the last ten years.

However, Max Payne took a fairly lengthily hiatus from the gaming scene as the highly-acclaimed 2003 sequel, Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne, was the last we saw of the gritty New York cop.

Fast forward eight years and numerous delays later, and finally the tragic hero is making his return in Max Payne 3, although things have changed.

Payne's life has been filled with tragedy and turmoil since the death of his wife and child in the first game. Sent on a destructive path of revenge, Payne not only turned his enemies’ lives upside down, but also his own. While finding redemption, Payne’s self-destructive nature has led to booze and cynicism like never before. The third chapter of the series definitely represents the ‘bad-to-worse’ part of his life.

The story for Max Payne 3 picks up eight years after the events of its predecessor. Payne has now moved to São Paulo, Brazil, and works for a private security company protecting a wealthy family. After he is double-crossed he’s off on his usual head-splitting endeavors in order to settle the score.

Dan Houser, the lead writer of Red Dead Redemption and GTA IV is penning the script. Therefore we're likely to see some serious depth and emotion to the story, if those games are anything to go by.

Although slightly older and balder, Max Payne 3 is looking absolutely gorgeous. Environments and character models are incredibly detailed and the new setting is a welcome change to the series. Don’t worry though, as the sunny streets of Brazil are not going to detract from the gritty noir feel the series has become known for.

Rockstar have also incorporated the Euphoria animation engine (seen in GTA IV and Red Dead Redemption) into Max Payne 3. This makes Payne move and react very naturally, giving him and his enemies a certain ‘weight’. Payne will duck, lean and have different reactions to the environments and forces on him throughout the game, leaving the stiff demeanor of his previous games in the past.

Shooting is still the core feature of the game and everything that made the original a hit remains in-tact, while a bunch of new features have been added. Players can now zoom in over the shoulder for closer shots, something that’s become standard fair in third-person shooters these days. The diving and bullet dodging mechanics have also been revamped, allowing Payne to dive and swivel in full 360 degree movement while firing, and even continue while sliding or stationary on the floor. Not only does jumping and shooting in slow motion look cool, but it’s a strong tactical advantage in Max Payne 3.

Speaking of looking cool, the game also features slow-mo headshots, where the camera follows the bullet through the head of an enemy to show you your kill in all its violent glory. Max Payne 3 is a game that’s not pulling any punches.

A cover mechanic has also been added, allowing Payne to move and shift between different objects with ease. The cover mechanic appears similar to that of Red Dead Redemption, but will undoubtedly have some tweaks that up the fluidity of Max Payne’s signature gunfights.

Rockstar have stuck with painkillers as a form of health as opposed to regenerating life, making it a much more intense and challenging experience. This is integrated into the new Last Man Standing feature, where if Payne is downed from a bullet wound, players get one shot off the floor, and if you can kill the enemy that shot you, Payne gets a second wind.

While appearing dead on its feet at a point in time, Max Payne 3 is looking rejuvenated by Rockstar refining the trademark gameplay of the series, with new features, additions and a whole new look. Payne may be a little older, but he’s never looked so badass.

Keep your eyes out for Max Payne 3, which is scheduled for release in March next year.




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