RAM 009: Max Payne 3

You guys thought I’d never talk about this again. Didn’t you?

In this edition of RAM, I’m going to be talking about one of my favourite games of not only 2012, but of all time. How one specific moment typified the whole experience for me and made me fall utterly head over heels for the game.

The Game: Max Payne 3 is the third in the Max Payne series. After the first two were developed by Remedy, a team who went on to make Alan Wake and currently developing Quantum Break for Xbox One. With this latest iteration, development was handed over to Rockstar Games and after years and years of teases and delays, we finally saw the release of it in May of 2012. The game follows Max and his story after the last game. This time, Max has fallen deeper into sadness, cheap scotch and pills to deal with the loss of loved ones and past events. He takes a offer from a wealthy Brazilian businessman as a bodyguard, protecting him and his family. It brings back the fast paced and frentic action of the first two games. With guns packing more power and kick, beautiful and realistic graphics and physics, a multiplayer mode I loved and a story that left me satisfied and on the edge of my seat. It was a full package that made me feel I got the most out of my purchase. The moment I’m going to look at today combines the best of the game in one section, a section that anyone who’s played it probably already knows is coming. Spoiler warning ahead guys, as this moment happens a bit later in the game.

The Moment: After reaching breaking point, losing not only the boss’ wife, but also the boss, Max breaks down and drastically needs change. All the drinking and pills, combined with his loneliness and clinging onto the past, not letting go and moving on all combine for him to take action. He shaves his head down to the skin. He throws away the booze and takes it upon himself to capture the men who caused all this trouble. The more he moves along though and uncovers more, the deeper and deeper he sees the corruption and deceit go. Max discovers that he’s a pawn in all the criminal activities that have and have been happening around him the past few months. He finds out that the Police are rounding up people and harvesting their organs. He finds out the Brancos, the family he’s been working for, have had a hand in the matter all along. He vows to take them down and throws himself completely into it and moves ahead, looking for justice.

His adventure takes him to the Brazilian Police Department, where he shoots his way through the goons and on a quest to take down the top cop, Becker. After a bloody and long trip through the PD, he reaches Becker and Victor Branco, only to be knocked down and lose them at the last second. He knows they’re going to try and flee the country and he makes his way to the Airport. It’s heavily guarded and the people there all have targets on Max’s head. Max knows that this is his last chance to stop Victor and Becker and he’s so hellbent on taking them down, he focuses on nothing else. He makes his way through the back corridors and baggage handling areas before he reaches the Airport bathrooms.

In a moment of calm, you get to walk around, look for supplies. There’s only one way to go though, forward, out of the bathroom. After reloading your gun, you run towards the door and you’re thrust into a cutscene. You’re out in the walkways of the Brazilian Airport and Max is hiding behind cover. The music begins to kick in, Max is monologing to himself and the player. He knows what he’s in for. He looks at his gun, takes a deep breath and leaps out. What begins is one of the most satisying mix of gameplay, music and action I’ve ever experienced in a game.

Why it mattered: The moment lets you shoot through the walkways and balconies of the Airport. With enemies rushing at you, hiding in cover and taking you from all different angles, it provides you with multiple ways to tackle the situation. You have to take down at least 20-30 soldiers to get to the next area. But with the music thumping and the bullets flying, the adrenaline gets you pumped up, ready to face anything that comes at you. Once the moment is over, you begin to come down from the high, you realise you’ve experienced one of those moments that you have to talk to everyone about, that you’ll always remember from the game.

What I really love about this moment, and why it mattered to me, was it was just a perfect combination and culmination of what the game wanted you to experience. I felt the mechanics in the game were perfect, with a great emphasis on running and gunning and taking huge risks with an even greater reward. There was no better feeling that breaking out of cover, taking out two guys with two bullets, then moving effortlessly into bullet time, diving forward over a ledge and taking out that final goon and watching him fall in slow motion. The Airport scene provided ample opportunity to do this, with a litany of guns.

But what truly made this moment stand out was the music. I love when music in a game works so well with a certain moment, with Saints Row The Third coming to mind. The soundtrack was done by an American band called HEALTH. They worked with Rockstar to create the best soundtrack to compliment the rest of the experience, and it shows the amount of effort they put in, as every song fits their scene. As soon as you snap out of cover and that first beat hits your ears, you instantly light up and feel like you’re invincible. It’s hard to do that in a game, to create that perfect complimentary experience, but they did it here. Even if I died, I wouldn’t be upset, because I’d get to listen to the song again. Moments like that come few and far between, so when you experience it, you know you’ve struck gold.

I remember the first time I had finished that section and the music slowly fades out, the electronic clangs and low bass escaping my ears, with the bullets taking over again. I knew that I’d never experience that moment again for the first time, but it never diminished multiple replays of it, if anything, it enhanced it. This moment was perfect for me. It felt like it was one last hurrah in a sense for the game, we had so many moments where we felt like we could lose and it would be the end of Max’s story, moments where we felt vunerable. This was a moment where you felt invincible. It was the perfect storm of gameplay and music to create a moment that stood out in not just my mind but everyone else who played it. Rockstar have shown their caliber of picking music to compliment moments, like when Far Away plays in Red Dead Redemption and they proved their chops again here.

Max Payne 3 was my game of 2012. It was moments like these that cemented it in that position not just for that year, but for a long time. It’s a game I truly love and this moment makes it all the better.

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