With this review I will briefly cover Max Payne 3 as a game. I will not go into too much detail, but instead cover some common issues other players have had with the game. I will also skip talking about the multiplayer since I do not play a huge amount online myself. I will try to give a bit more detail for the Special Edition content, which includes my quick video on most of the content.
The first thing worth mentioning about Max Payne 3 is the amount of detail in the environments. I say this because so many have complained about the graphics in Max Payne 3. Yet every single location you play through looks so believable, no environment looks vacant of life or detail. Just as impressive is how varied these environments are. You will play through apartment buildings, a cemetery, a prison, and so on. Sure these kinds of environments are almost common place in most action games, but in Max Payne 3 they have a level of detail that is so impressive you can't help but appreciate them more.
Now as far the character models are concerned, I will admit they are a bit disappointing. I would not say the character models look horrible or anything since they all do have good detail, but their facial expressions do leave a little to be desired. Facial animations simply don't look as detailed as other games on the market, which can be important for a game heavy on story telling. However, character animations certainly help make up for this, they are simply amazing. Every movement Max, his allies, and his enemies make look fantastic and again believable. From simple running movements, to being shot (which can look incredibly violent at times), or just a character tumbling from a platform, nothing looks terrible or even close to bad. Rockstar clearly put time into these details, almost as much, if not more than they did for the environments.
Gameplay wise, Max Payne 3 does not stray too far from the first two games in the series. As you take out enemies your bullet time meter fills up, once you have the amount you need you can trigger it to slow down time. Enemies, bullets, grenades, and other hazards are easier to avoid in bullet time, not to mention how impressive the feature still looks. Shoot dodge also returns, letting you dodge in any direction (left, right, forward, or backwards) in slow motion. This time around you do not even need to have any bullet time in your bullet time meter to use shoot dodge (although some will be consumed if you do use shoot dodge while having bullet time left).
A new feature to the Max Payne series is the ability to use cover. Some have had a real issue with this feature; arguing that it somewhat ruins the game and makes it feel like every other 3rd person perspective shooter on the market today. While I can understand these feelings, I would argue it is a matter of player preference. While there are some moments where you do not have much choice but to use cover to take enemies out from a distance, there are also plenty of opportunities to use shoot dodge and bullet time. Once you have a good feel and understanding of your environments, using shoot dodge and bullet time become your real ticket to success. This is especially true on the harder difficulties where overusing cover can lead to death quickly since you're basically stationary.
A common complaint many players seem to have with Max Payne 3 that I totally agree with is the flawed checkpoint system. Many have had issues with where checkpoints are placed during gameplay, and the lack of more of them. Like I said, I agree with this since too often during certain areas of the game you take out a large number of enemies but you don't get a checkpoint. Instead you have to push forward and encounter another group of enemies, and unfortunately if this group manages to kill you, it is back to the old checkpoint no matter how many of them you just took out. This is especially annoying later in the game when the difficultly goes up a bit. Don't get me wrong, this does not ruin the game or anything, but more checkpoints (especially between large groups of enemies) would have prevented some annoying moments during the single player experience.
Perhaps the biggest issue some players have had with Max Payne 3 is the feeling that this installment in the Max Payne series is not really a Max Payne game, that it does not resemble the first two games enough. I can somewhat understand this, since the first two games were so established in New York City. New York really had a dark and gritty feel while Max 3 has a more bright sun drenched look. It definitely can seem like a big contrast; however Brazil (where part 3 takes place) still has the gritty atmosphere of the first two games. Max also retains that dark (and amusing) inner monologue from the first two games. Basically, the elements that made Max Payne 1 and 2 (the atmosphere, the characters, the dialogue) are still present in Max Payne 3. The story may not be as well executed at times, and certain effects during cutscenes can seem overused, but overall Max Payne 3 is definitely a Max Payne game.
Now as far as the Special Edition is concerned, there are some nice items for hardcore Max Payne fans. Below is a breakdown of these items:
1. Max Payne Statue - Without question many will buy this Special Edition for the Max Payne statue, and for the most part it is worth the money. The statue is huge, even taller than my Cole MacGrath statue from the Infamous 2 Hero Edition. The statue also has nice details, including a bullet wound on Max's shoulder, a bullet hole in his suit coat, shells on the floor he is standing on, and so on. All of these things are a nice touch, and it also helps that the paint job seems to be of high quality. However there is one problem. As detailed as the statue is, the face does not resemble Max's very much. Don't get me wrong it does not look terrible, but it seems to have the same problem as the Cole MacGrath statue I mentioned before. The Cole statue is also very detailed but unfortunately the face does not resemble the actual character enough. I do not know if this is a common problem with these character statues since I don't have many, but both the Max Payne and Cole MacGrathe statues share this issue. Despite this I do not want to make it seem like this is a deal breaker, it is not. The statue still looks great, has nice details, and looks even better on display.
2. Bullet Key Chain - A very cool item that I think most will actually end up using. Now this in not some cheap plastic key chain, it actually feels like it could be a real hollowed out bullet (never held a real bullet myself, so can't say for sure). The bullet end can be screwed open to store small items inside like pills and such. The Max Payne 3 and Rockstar logo can be found on the bullet as well.
3. Lithograph/Art Cards - The Special Edition also includes 4 art cards or lithograph prints. These in all fairness are not too special. They depict things like bullet shells, painkillers, and so on. Again not terrible but perhaps they could have chosen better art to depict, maybe actual scenes from the game.
4. Official Soundtrack - Within the game case is a code to download the soundtrack. You have to go to a website for the game, enter the code, and an e-mail will be sent to you so you can make your download. The soundtrack is just over 80 minutes and is definitely worth a listen.
5. Classic Character Pack and Disorderly Conduct Weapons Pack - Also within the game case is another code to download some additional characters and weapons for multilayer. If you plan on playing online, this should be worthwhile.
Max Payne 3 really is a great action game and a great game period. It is not perfect, but the good aspects without question outweigh the bad ones. The Special Edition just adds more value to an already great package. For the right price I would totally recommend the Special Edition to anyone. If you're not interested in any of the Special Edition content, then definitely get the standard edition, I doubt you will regret the experience or purchase.