Today I went to the PAX East gaming convention in Boston to play Max Payne 3. This post will detail my experience with Rockstar and, obviously, Max Payne 3.
I walked through the front door of the convention. There, I needed to get my pass from the ticket I bought online. I had to show an ID and I was on my way to the queue line. The line was so long, I couldn't really see anything in front of me.
Finally, the line started to move after ten minutes. When I got into the convention I looked for the Max Payne 3 booth, and could not believe the line I saw. I was thinking "great, another line for me to wait in. This is the only reason why I came here and I need to wait in another line."
Growing impatient and really wanting to meet the guys, I tweeted them.
I got a response in a direct message from them telling me to go to the front booth and tell them who I was. I proceeded to do so. I talked to someone there where I received a special badge to show at the back desk to get a free T-Shirt.
I went around to the back desk and showed them the badge. They asked me what T-Shirt size I was. I told them, and they handed me one. I went back to the front desk and they let me in. They told me I could sit on the bench and wait and then asked if I wanted something to drink. I said yes, and a man went out back to get me a water. As I sat there tweeting I was watching the other people play Max Payne 3. I was in shock at the time, I couldn't believe all of this was happening. I could tell right away how good of a game this was.
A man walked up to me soon later and told me that there was a man waiting for forty-five minutes to play the game, so I told him it was fine and to let him play. I watched him play the game and could not wait to play it myself. A few minutes later I saw a man go up to Ramone, the developer that stood with me and talked to me while I played the game and whisper something in his ear. Right after that, the other guy that was playing the game left and Ramone told me to come over.
I stood there looking at the huge LCD monitor, it looked to be about 32". Ramone asked if I preferred the Xbox controller or the keyboard & mouse. I chose the keyboard & mouse. He showed me some of the controls, which were:
- Move forward
- Move backward
- Move left
- Move right
- Take cover
- Enter bullet-time
- Sprint (HOLD) Roll (PRESS)
- Pick up weapon
- Over-The-Shoulder Aiming
- Change weapon
The controls were seamless. I was used to the original Max Payne 2 controls, and these were quite the same.
Max moves around like no other character in a game that I have seen. As you may have read in some of the earlier previews, it was said that Max reacts to the environment and his movement looks very real. This could not
be more true. When Max gets hit with a bullet, it reacts a lot like the last game. You know you're hit, but it's not a big deal. When you're shooting at the enemy, bullets crack their bones and you can see the bullet holes in them, similar to Red Dead Redemption but MUCH more realistic and bloody.
The cinematics in this game are unbelievable. Although I could not hear the audio very well when Max was talking (because of the crowd and everyone talking at the convention), the cutscenes go in and out of gameplay instantly. There are no loading screens, or even a black screen transition, it literally goes right from the cutscene into the game.
Weapons & other cool features
The most intuitive feature that I found was dual-wielding weapons of different types. Ramone told me to switch to these weapons, which looked like an Ingram and a 9mm pistol (Beretta). I went into a room and utilized bullet-time and shootdodging (which I will talk about soon) to nail down the enemies. Whenever I did this, I heard Ramone go "nice", applauding my familiarity with the game before I even played it (this stems from my love of the first two games).
Another weapon I used was a SMG standard type that most other games use. I couldn't believe how real the bullets were rendered -- similar to the last games, when Max guns down the last enemy, it goes into a cinematic. You literally control time with the second mouse button, keeping it held down keeps you in the cinematic of shooting the enemy, whereas if you let it go it speeds it up. You are still in control of Max while in the cinematic, and the bullets are shown from the moment they exit the gun to when it hits the enemy. It's an amazing feature that really adds to the game.
While you are behind cover, there is no reticle unless you use the over-the-shoulder controls. Once you hold down Mouse 2, you can see the reticle and aim better. Out of cover, though, the reticle is always shown and you can aim at people very easily. The reticle size changed with different weapons.
The levels in the demo were beautifully done. The first demo that I played was in a New York bar, similar to the one at Lupino's apartment building in the first Max Payne. There were many places to take cover once you gunned down the enemies shooting you. There is not much to say about the mapping (pictures/videos were not allowed), other than expect the first levels in the game to be very nostalgic to the first games.
I also got to play a level that took place in a Brazilian soccer stadium. For anyone wondering if it feels different than the first two games, it really doesn't, it feels better
, just as it should. I really want to make that clear to anyone that has any concerns about the gameplay.
Bullet-Time and Shootdodging
I was seriously blown away at how well these two work together still. It's so much better than the first two games, and I mean it. Once you head into bullet-time mode, you will instantly slow down, exactly like the first two games. As far as I could tell, they used the same exact speed from Max Payne 2's bullet time mode here. Bullets can be seen exiting the weapon and hitting the enemy, with blood slowly shooting out of their limbs.
When you shootdodge, time also slows down, similar to Max Payne 2. You can move Max Payne around in any direction you please while you are in shootdodge mode, giving you complete control over Max. You are much less likely to get hit with a bullet while Max is shootdodging, since your body is in a lying-jump position in the air.
Although short-lived, my experience was way better than I expected. I expected a completely different game from the first two, and what I got was a perfect mix of the old elements combined with today's technology that cannot be beaten. If you are concerned that this game will not be as good as the first two, you need to throw that thought away. What you will get is an unbeatable experience that no other game will be able to come close to in terms of... well... everything.
Thank you to Rockstar Games, who treated me like gold. Simon Ramsey and Ramone, I could not be more thrilled with my experience. And to the guy who gave me the water that I couldn't hear your name over the loud crowd -- thank you as well!
If you have any questions about the game, ask me in the forums. I will be posting pictures of the gear Rockstar gave me later tonight.