I arrived at Logan International Airport at about 9:10 A.M. Eastern standard time to board my JetBlue flight into New York City. The airport was crowded – people rushing to get through security and check in to their flights with the automated computer systems. Luckily, I found out last minute that I could print out my boarding pass with my reference number from the itinerary I received from Rockstar Games. I avoided the long hassle of waiting in line to use a computer to print out a boarding pass. I made my way to the security checkpoint where I had to put everything on my person in a plastic bin to go through an X-RAY machine.
While waiting at the airport, I first walked around to see the little shops that they had. I saw a barber shop which I found to be a great idea to put in an airport. I'm sure people must need to get a haircut last minute before they travel to their destination. Must be a huge money maker for the airport, I thought. I walked to a little shop that sold general items such as soda, food, and magazines and I bought a ginger ale. The ginger ale was three dollars, which was double the price as getting it in the same city at the same type of store. I was worried how much things would cost once I got to New York. The living price there was a lot more than in Boston.
Finally, at about 11:30 P.M. I was able to board the plane. Once everyone had settled, the co-pilot announced that he saw a scratch on the side of the plane that he wanted to get checked out. We had to wait another forty minutes for them to check a cosmetic scratch on the side of the plane and do paperwork to confirm that it was checked out by a mechanic. The man next to me was extremely impatient and kept making remarks about how unsatisfied he was with the service he was getting. I kept thinking to myself that I'd rather them check the scratch than die. I'm sure I wasn't the only one with the same feeling.
We took off after the forty minutes of waiting for everything to get checked out. During the flight, I talked with the impatient man next to me. He was going to Florida on a connecting flight and seemed very anxious to get on the connecting plane and was worried he'd miss it because of the forty minutes we lost. We conversed about sports and since I told him that I was going to review Max Payne 3, we talked about sports games such as the NHL 2K series, the MLB 00 series, and the Madden football series. Since I was nervous about flying, making conversation kept my mind off of the thought of crashing and dying a horrible death.
After about only a mere thirty minutes of flying, we landed at JFK International Airport where I rushed to the baggage claim area. I looked around for a sign with my name and could not find anyone with it. I called Rockstar and they told me to go outside and wait there. Soon, a black sedan pulled up. A man held a sign with my name out of the window. I waved him over and got into the back of the sedan after the driver popped the trunk and put my luggage in it. I was met by AJ Collins (http://rockstarwatch.net/) sitting next to me. We talked about how horrible the traffic was, Grand Theft Auto mods, and obviously, Max Payne and the event we were attending.
On the way to the hotel I observed my surroundings. While we were stuck on the highway, I looked to my sides and saw the gritty buildings looking down at me. They were so tall, taller than any buildings I had ever seen in my life. This was my first time in New York City. It was quite amazing being there for the first time, an experience I will never forget. The drivers were so much more aggressive and the people were so much different.
I was sick of driving around. I wanted to be at the hotel. I grew more impatient by the second.
We pulled up in front of the gorgeous Soho Grand Hotel (http://www.sohogrand.com/). I could not believe that all of this was happening. I stepped out of the car and witnessed a homeless man chasing after people to try and get money from them, rich people conversing about their nice cars they own, and average people making small talk with each other all at the same time. It was incredible being in such a diverse place. I grabbed my luggage and walked up to the front doors of the hotel. A nice gentleman in an expensive suit was holding the door open for me. I was eager to get settled and start the activities that were planned for us (which we had no idea what they were, we only knew they were 'jaw-dropping') so I walked up to the next floor which was the lobby of the hotel. I was greeted by a representative of Rockstar Games. She had me sign a paper. She handed me the keycard to my room with the wi-fi password written on it. I got in the elevator, where I had to tap my keycard to go anywhere. I got into room 505 where I put all of my belongings down. I went back downstairs where I called Chris Phillips (an admin here on our site and owner of http://thegtaplace.com/) to ask him how far away from the hotel he was. He told me he was only a few minutes away, so I went outside to wait for him.
Chris arrived soon, in the same car as Gerard Boyers (http://grandtheftwiki.com and http://thegtaplace.com/), Simon 'Psy' Elliot (http://igta5.com/), and a few others that I can't really remember. It was amazing actually meeting these guys in person, a completely surreal experience. I lead them to the lobby where the Rockstar representative was sitting and they all went to their rooms. I messaged Chris on Facebook and asked him what room number he was in. He told me, and I eagerly rushed down to meet him there.
Gerard, Simon, Chris, and I all hung out and came up with theories as to what we would be doing during our stay. We were told that something was happening tonight that involved “teamwork” and “sportsmanship”. We wondered if it would be a physical activity or possibly playing multiplayer of Max Payne 3.
Soon, we met in the lobby about an hour before we were supposed to to meet the other webmasters that would be with us. We went to the bar to converse and get to know each other better. It was a fun experience.
Not long after, the cars rolled up and we all got in and made our way to an unknown destination.
We arrived at an amazing bowling alley/nightclub, packed with people on the dance floor with a live jazz band directing their movements. We all played about three games of bowling while we talked to each other and got to know each other better. We got to order food and eat while we played. I ordered the best cheeseburger I ever had. There were delicious barbecued ribs that all of us got to munch on as well. They served normal soda and some local beer brands that none of us ever heard of. The food was delicious and the bowling was fun. We got back to the hotel at about 1:00 A.M. We were all very tired, so we each went back to our hotel rooms for a good night sleep.
I woke up later than the rest. All of the other webmasters were already in Times Square going sight seeing. I woke up at about 10:30 A.M. I was completely wiped out from the other night. I checked my phone where Chris spammed me to try and wake me up and get me to come to Times Square. I was disappointed in myself, but I thought to make the best of it. I got in the shower, where I took a cold shower. I was getting no hot water, so after I was done I called guest services and told them about it. They sent a mechanic to come check it out. The only problem was they installed the faucet the wrong way – hot was cold and cold was hot. The man fixed it. In the meantime I had ordered room service. I ordered a ham and cheese omelet with spinach, a glass of orange juice, a power smoothie, and some coffee. The power smoothie was the most delicious thing I had ever tasted in my life, but everything was unbelievable. It was such an amazing experience living the high life like this – getting room service in a beautiful hotel, eating with a nice view from my room.
After I finished, I eagerly awaited my British friends arriving back at the hotel. When they did arrive, we all sat down at the hotel restaurant and ate some more food. Most people got a chicken sandwich, I just got some bacon and fries. I was sitting next to Simon, where he was using his iPad. I saw he was watching the new TV commercial for Max Payne 3. I rushed and rented a Macbook Pro from guest services to post the news on our site here, and got back to eating with everyone else. We all went back to our rooms after we were done until about 4:30 where we were picked up by some classy S.U.V.'s hired by Rockstar Games. We arrived at a warehouse with graffiti on the door and a Rockstar sticker over it. We had to wait for about fifteen minutes until they finished setting up everything inside.
I was the first one to walk in to the warehouse. I felt metal on the ground and what sounded like a bullet dropping. I looked down, and there were bullets scattered everywhere. I walked a little further and above me there was a projector with the Rockstar logo illuminating onto the ground. Another Rockstar logo was being projected onto the back wall of the warehouse, where we also watched the TV commercial they had just released.
Before playing the game we all had time to order drinks from the bar and eat a little food from the buffet. I spoke with the multiplayer lead for Max Payne 3 about the game. We talked about how bullet time works in multiplayer, how bursts work, and all sorts of other multiplayer aspects of the game. He told me how he posed for the artwork done for Max Payne 3 (see below, he is the one on the left behind the wall with a shotgun) and talked to me about Red Dead Redemption's multiplayer as well, as he was the lead for that game also. I was so excited to meet these guys, they were all very nice and completely down to earth.
Soon, we got to play Max Payne 3's singleplayer.
I first started playing on the Xbox 360. The opening scene introduced the Brazilian part of the game. Hearing James McCaffrey's voice in the game and actually playing it was such a reminiscent feeling. To emphasize the drama that is meant to be portrayed by the dialog, memorable terms that Max and other characters say appear in the cutscenes with flashy letters/text.
If you do not already know about the story, I'll try and summarize the stuff that we currently know here. Max is protecting a very wealthy and successful real estate owner that goes by the name of Rodrigo Branco. Very early in the game we are flown to a beautiful night club in São Paulo, Brazil with Fabiana Branco, her sister, and her brother. The brother’s character is quite annoying and seems pretty fake. He's into having a good time and doesn’t seem to care about looking at the future too much, he seems to just live in the moment. I suppose Max may be the same way, but he has been through more and is a lot more depressed than this male character is. It's cool how they relate in one way, but their personalities are completely different.
During the cutscene we witness Fabiana Branco getting kidnapped at gun point by some Brazilian masked men in the middle of a flashy club. This leads into an epic transition from a cutscene to real bullet-time shooting where Max jumps through a window on a floor above and takes out the enemies that are attacking him. We are in full control of Max during this time. After we take out the enemies, we move on, just like we would in any other Max Payne game. Ahead there are more enemies and some painkillers to grab.
You should be caught up with the story by now, I don't want to spoil too much for you anyway. I want to get into the features of the game, such as bullet-time and shootdodging, the level design, the AI, amongst other things.
I want to start off with the enemies artificial intelligence. The AI seems to adapt to you during the game. If you die numerous times and can't get past a level, the enemies will be less hard to kill and fewer will appear. As well as adapting to your troubles, they also adapt to the environment. If you try and sneak around to get past them, this will most likely not help your case. They will come search for you and find you. You cannot hide in one place for too long, as they don't stay in one place like some other games on the markets AI do.
I thought I'd mention here the difficulty of the game. The game challenges you as much as the previous two did, if not more. This isn't a game that loves and cares for you with an unnecessary drawn out tutorial, this is a game that throws you into the action right away, and keeps giving you more and more and more action that challenges you. You can't get past levels as easy as a lot of other games released today. Rockstar has perfected the difficulty of the game to an amazing degree. You will feel challenged, but also enjoy it as much as you have with the rest of the series since they have also perfected the gameplay, which I will talk quite a bit about.
Painkillers are back. Max is now addicted to painkillers and alcohol. Painkillers in Max Payne 3 help you a lot more than they did in the previous games. Let's say your health is three quarters of the way gone. One painkiller will replenish about half of your health. But wait – painkillers are not as commonly found compared to the last two games. If you stumble upon a cabinet of painkillers, you will most likely find one or two on the shelf, and won't find any more for a while. This adds a new element to the game – you have to train yourself when to take them. If you only lost a quarter of your health, it would be a waste to take a painkiller since one painkiller could heal about a quarter more than that. I'd also like to point out that when Max takes a painkiller, the screen goes blurry and affects Max's movements for a second or two. It does not affect gameplay too much, but it adds a sense of realism and shows the dramatic addictions that Max is facing.
Shootdodging is unbelievably satisfying in this game. Once you enter shootdodging, time slows down (not as slow as bullet-time, but still slow enough to look really cool and help you out) and you are in full control of Max's body. If there's a guy hiding behind a counter, just run up and hit the shootdodge button and meet him back there with a gun. Give him a nice shot to the head and take his place in cover. Enter bullet-time and run out and kill the rest of the guys. Or, shootdodge to the next guy, take him out, and continue on. It's really your choice how you use the mechanics. I'd just like to emphasize the point that shootdodging has been massively upgraded with the new physics engine they are using to give you a very realistic experience. They look cooler than the last two games. Much cooler.
Bullet time is back and better than ever. With Max's body weight now changing, the AI reacting to where the bullets hit them, and the bullets entering them realistically and more gorier than ever, it's everything that you could have wished for with bullet-time. Since all of the details of the game kind of go together (the gore, aiming, etc), bullet-time just gives you all of those things in slow motion. Literally everything moves slower in bullet-time; such as the realistic blood shooting out of the enemies bodies, giving you an amazing slow-motion experience. Imagine the last two games with updated technology in every area – graphics, physics, artificial intelligence – add bullet-time and a new story and you have Max Payne 3.
Bullets are dynamically rendered every time you shoot the gun. To show proof, after a death in multiplayer when you are on the respawn screen, you can look at the hit marks on your body. I will get more into the multiplayer mode later, but I want to let you know that all of the hype about bullets being rendered in real time is quite amazing. You can see the bullet exit the gun and enter the body of your enemy slowly during bullet-time. It's quite an amazing experience seeing all of this happen. All of this little attention to detail truly makes this game what it is.
Cutscenes seamlessly transition to gameplay. Instead of any loading screens, you watch a cutscene while the resources of the game load in the background. This means that you can't skip a cutscene early in the level because the resources of the level are being loaded. I did not find this to be a problem, as a major selling point of the Max Payne series is most obviously it's amazing story.
Graphic novels have undergone a major change. They are no longer real graphic novels, but actual action and freezes in a comic book style. For example, during a cutscene the entire screen would be used to show the story. When they want to show another part of the story (comic strip), they crop the screen and freeze the last moment of the last scene in one corner, and continue the story in another part of the screen. It's all about the cool transition they use. An element that made it feel like more of a graphic novel would be the fact that they show quotes in flashy text as the quote is being said. It adds some drama to the scene.
The singleplayer experience as a whole is the best to ever come out in a game. There is absolutely no doubt that you will be overly satisfied with the story, gameplay, and multiplayer. Which leads us to the next section...
The multiplayer component seamlessly integrates with the singleplayer experience in a beautiful way. Bullet-time has been mastered in multiplayer. The developers really got it right. Once you are in the line of sight of anyone that has bullet-time enabled, you also go into bullet-time mode. If you shootdodge, unlike in singleplayer, time does not slow down unless, of course, you are in bullet-time.
Before the match starts, you can customize your loadout with a wide variety of options and weapons. Every weapon has different attachments, such as silencers, gun barrels, magazine clips, and if I remember correctly, laser attachments. You can also pick out different bursts to use, such as bullet-time. There are different bursts that you can choose. Some are more helpful for your team, such as unlimited ammo for your entire team for a short period of time.
There are a wide variety of different weapons. A few I saw were the AK-47, the RPK, and the Desert Eagle. I liked the RPK the best with the upgraded gun barrel that improved weight and accuracy for the gun. It killed someone in about four to six shots, depending on where you hit them. The AK-47 was lighter and more accurate, but did much less damage than the RPK. Of course, the Desert Eagle was exactly what you'd think a Desert Eagle would be. A powerful pistol that deals a lot of damage with the price of recoil.
Multiplayer loadouts are largely based on the weight of your loadout. You can't carry too many weapons or attachments. For every weapon and attachment you carry, it adds a bit of weight to the meter. If you get into the red you either move slower or you can't get into the game unless you remove some attachments or weapons to lighten your load.
One of the game modes we played was called “Payne Killer” (yeah, like the name of our site) which was a very unique game mode. Basically, there’s a shootout at the beginning of the game (similar to Red Dead Redemption) and whoever wins the shootout becomes Max Payne. Whoever comes in second becomes Raul. Together, you kill as many people as you can and can. You have bullet time at your disposal, and if I remember correctly, more painkillers and bullet-time than everyone else. Whoever kills Max becomes Max, and whoever kills Raul becomes Raul. Everyone is going after Max and Raul, similar to bounty modes in other games.
Another game mode we played was Gang Wars, a mode that dynamically changed objectives each round depending on the outcome of the last round. The round starts off with a cutscene showing the story of how they got to whatever map you’re playing. Rockstar has taken some gangs from the first two games into these modes. For example, playing as The Punchinellos is a possibility depending on what map you play. Some of the maps are in New York, and some of them are in Brazil.
I remember playing a map on some New York docks a couple of times. One time, it was not snowing on the map. The next time I played it it was snowing. I thought it was really cool that weather is dynamic in the game as well, varying at random every time you play. I’m not sure if this happens with every map, but I don’t see why they would limit it to one map. Maybe in the Brazilian maps it rains sometimes and is sunny at other times.
We can’t talk much more about what you’ll be seeing, but trust me; you will be happy with the multiplayer experience that Max Payne 3 has to offer. You’ll find yourself playing it just as much, if not more than the singleplayer.
Max Payne 3 is one of the best games ever written in my opinion. It’s unique take on the previous games with added multiplayer and updated motion capture, physics, and artifical intelligence technology gives the experienced Max Payne player something to be excited about, while giving someone who has never played any of the games in the series a reason to start immediately. It captures the original noire feeling perfectly, giving true fans the reminiscent feeling they are expecting.
I would like to give a big thank you to Rockstar Games, specifically the people who helped manage the fansite event. You guys were a huge help throughout the whole process of getting us there, being there, and getting us home. I really appreciate the invitation and getting the opportunity to meet all of you guys and play the game before it has been released. I truly appreciate it.
I also want to thank Chris Phillips (http://thegtaplace.com) for designing and coding the site, and giving me the opportunity to moderate on his websites and getting my name out there in terms of the Rockstar community. Without you, I would never have been able to attend this event.
I hope you enjoyed this hands-on preview. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask in our forums (http://paynekillers.com/forums)!
Rockstar Network: http://www.rockstarnetwork.net/content.php/1655-Max-Payne-3-Fan-Site-Event
GTA Warehouse: http://www.gtawh.com/index.php?page=events#maxpayne3
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