Wednesday, April 11, 2012

PAX East 2012 Max Payne 3 Impressions




               This year’s PAX East I took a much different approach to the last two years I attended. This was going to be a much more casual visit to PAX than my previous visits. For starters, I was not going to arrive on day 1, five hours before the exhibit doors open to wait in line with the obnoxious  videos, fellow gamers and no place to sit. The only advantage in doing this is to get close to the front of the line for some highly anticipated games and I just did not feel like doing that this year. I was content waiting.

                Secondly, I wanted to buy a few PAX East 2012 shirts. The previous two years I waited too long and they were sold out before I could get them in my size. I wasn’t going to make this mistake for a third year in a row so getting shirts was number 1 on my TO-DO list this year.

                And lastly, the PAX guys didn’t send me my badge that I purchased back in January, so I had to wait in line at Will Call anyway, at entrance to the Boston Convention Center. PAX people totally dropped the ball on the badges this year. Went I got home on Friday, my badge was in my mailbox.
Max Payne 3 (Meh!)

                Rockstar, which has been known for having fantastic floor displays and demos; Last year we saw a live demo of L.A. Noire, the year before we got a playable demo of Red Dead Redemption. This year we got a playable demo of Max Payne 3.
                After waiting in line for around 2 hours, players got the choice of playing Max Payne 3 on PC, 360 or PS3, which I thought was a fantastic way to give fans what they want. We didn’t have a choice back at PAX 2010; we could only play Red Dead on 360. I tried to wait around for a PC to play on, but my legs were in pain by the end of the line and I folded and opted for a 360.
                Unlike previous Max Payne games, the new Max Payne is stripped of the Noire feel; no comic book styled framed narration. Instead this is replaced by the voice actor of Max Payne speaking over actual video. But the gloomy violin music makes its return and gives Max Payne a nostalgia feel.
                The demo that we were allowed to play was extreeeeeemely difficult even with the standard Max Payne bullet time. I’m not sure which difficulty was set on this demo, but I ended up dying quite a few times. It might have because I have never played Max Payne game on a console before but it was tough finding a comfort zone. GTA and Red Dead work well on a console because of the slower styled pacing of the action. Max Payne 3 is mostly run and gun, which I found difficult to adapt to.
                They added a new feature to Max Payne 3 which players will either hate or love. If you die, the game will immediately enter a bullet time state in which you have a last chance to kill the guy that shot you. If you succeed, you will stay alive and continue the game. This feature is fun when combined with the newly added effects such as enemies with flashlights which will blind Max and their exact location. If you are killed by one of these enemies, the player will need to blindly shoot into the giant lens flare on the screen and hopefully hit the enemy that shot Max. This can be a very rewarding or frustrating gameplay element.
                Another new feature they added that never existed in a Max Payne game before is a cover mechanic. This is not a pop and gun mechanic that exists in Gears of War or Uncharted. It’s more of a cover mechanic that helps Max recover for a bit when there’s a ton of enemies on screen. Max Payne 3 is definitely an ‘always moving’ action game and I think that’s what Rockstar wanted to achieve. They didn’t want a player to hiding behind cover for 90% of the game. This keeps the players constantly on their feet.
                Although I liked the previous Max Payne games, I don’t think I’m too attached to this franchise to be overly excited about even after having played the demo, especially since it is coming from a different developer. Rockstar is known for open world sandbox games and it’s interesting to see them take on new genre game but I don’t see many improvements, aside from technically, that will make me run out and buy Max Payne 3. It’s nice to see the franchise back, and I probably will be buying Max Payne 3 on steam eventually, the question is whether or not I will be buying it at launch.