Rockstar Games has nearly stolen the show the past few years at PAX East. Generally not a major player at conventions such as E3, R* has wisely decided to bring their wares to the Penny Arcade Expo, allowing their most hardcore fans access to the next big thing. Last year, L.A. Noire was shown to the general public for the first time ever at PAX East, and this year, Max Payne 3 was made playable for eager fans of shooting guys in the face. KGB had the chance to play through a 15 minute demo, and we were left wanting more.
The Max Payne series was a major force in the last generation, with the original game introducing the Matrix-inspired "Bullet Time" feature, which we've all become accustomed to since. Bullet Time allows Max to slow down time, usually while leaping for cover, which in turn makes it easier for bad guys to get filled with bullets. Max Payne 2 allowed Bullet Time to be used without the dodge mechanic, although using Bullet Time in this way is 437% less awesome.
In the first 2 games in the series, Max was a hard-boiled cop, on a mission for revenge after the murder of his wife and child. Eventually Payne delved further and further into psychosis, which in turn led to the dreaded dream sequences of the original games. I was assured by the Rockstar team that although MP3 will continue to explore Max's mental health, the tediousness of the "blood trail" segments will be absent from this game. That is a good thing.
|Max Payne had a huge presence at PAX East. This banner was massive.|
If forced to compare the feel of Max Payne 3 to other recent mega-titles, it's not far off the say that it feels as though L.A. Noire was given the shooting and cover system of Gears of War. The camera is pulled in much closer than open-world games like Red Dead Redemption and GTA, and the environments and faces are far grittier than those games as well. I felt a slight flashback to Kane & Lynch: Dog Days while fighting through the demo, though the control was far tighter.
|Bullet Time. Awesome.|
Rockstar Vancouver has decided to forego the now-pervasive regenerating health system, in favor of Max Payne's signature pain pills. Bottles are scattered throughout the environment, and the cover system is meant to allow Max time to pop some pills, and get back into the fight, rather than waiting for the "bloody screen" mechanic to disappear, as in so many other games. This led to me actually dying in the demo I received, as simply waiting for my health to recharge is something I have become so used to, I simply forgot to pop those delicious little pick-me-ups.
It was difficult to get a feel for the story and voice acting in the crowded demo room, although the facial animation and cinematic kills were eye-grabbing. Judging by Rockstar's nearly spotless track record, and the amount of time Max Payne 3 has been in development, it's safe to say that this game will be another monster success. I can't wait to get my hands on it when it launches in May.
Christopher Linendoll needs pills, badly. He can be reached via Twitter, or found in the hummus section of your local grocery store.