Max Payne 3 is one of those “adaptations” where a well-known franchise is used to guarantee sales of an original and untried script.
Sure, it’s yet another adventure for the hard-boiled, leather-jacketed hero sharing the series’ signature bullet-time mechanic, but the word “sequel” implies continuation – of plot elements, characterization, or even just central premise/aesthetic. And Max Payne 3 is in a real big hurry to jettison most of these – his dead family, old haunts, and even the aforementioned leather jacket are all discarded, leaving Max a suit-clad, drunken loser working the nightclubs of São Paolo, Brazil.
Really, Max Payne 3’s storytelling pedigree owes at least as much to Rockstar’s past gleeful gangbanger sandboxes like Grand Theft Auto as it does to the previous Payne titles. It even (eventually) finds a good reason for you to make the transition from gunning down gangsters to the Rockstar protagonist’s favored prey: cops. And although it has a solid foundation of good ideas and some stirring setpieces, the single-player campaign is plagued by uneven difficulty, drearily sordid subject matter, a dearth of fleshed-out characters, and problematic racial and sexual insensitivity.