No! Stop! It’s okay, don’t panic, I know this is a Max Payne game and Max Payne is to multiplayer what EA is to customer service, but I can promise you this is good.
Last week the kind folks over at Rockstar invited me, on behalf of TSA, to go and play some multiplayer Max Payne 3 with them and I’ll confess I was a tad sceptical over how well it would come across given the IP’s focus on single player aspects in the past. However, not to spoil this write up too much in advance, it was great. Actually, no, scratch that, forget when I said good before and forget when I said great before. Max Payne 3’s multiplayer was awesome!
The day was terrific, the Rockstar employees and journalists alike were in a caffeine-fuelled, happy mood and the Rockstar offices even had a puppy (a freaking puppy!) walking around casually. You know, just hanging out. All offices have that, right?
However, I need to insert a small disclaimer to kick things off: I had not played Max Payne 3 until that day. The Rockstar folk had obviously played it before, and the other writers there had apparently all attended the single player preview beforehand. So, everything I am about to tell you comes from a totally blank slate of a man going into the sexiest gaming offices ever, with the cutest damn puppy I’ve ever scratched behind the ear, and playing Max Payne 3.
Before I kick back and give you a run down of the gameplay/modes/funny anecdotes of the day I’ll take a moment to explain a few basic concepts of Max Payne 3’s multiplayer which are applicable to almost every game mode in the finished product. The multiplayer holds up to 16 players, has an XP upgrading system, and an XP ranking system.
You earn said XP by completing game modes and killing other players, which will rank you up and get you some precious moolah that you can spend on new weapons, weapon upgrades, equipment, and special abilities (which they call Bursts) for your customisable loadouts. Players can collect ‘Adrenaline’ by shooting and killing enemy players, as well as looting their corpses afterwards. Adrenaline is used to activate a Burst, so it’s worth collecting.
Yes, that’s right my friends, I said Bullet Time. Rockstar made a huge deal on the day that they wanted to implement Bullet Time into Max Payne’s multiplayer, obviously because it’s a staple of the entire franchise. Here’s how it works: If a player activates Bullet Time, anybody who is in their line of sight also gets trapped in Bullet Time. Furthermore, anybody who is in the line of sight of the person who’s caught in the player who originally activated Bullet Time’s line of sight also gets affected.
It’s kind of a daisy chain of slow motion but the chain can be broken if a player escapes the line of sight of anybody going down the chain, minus the original Bullet Timer who shall remain in that state until the set time has run out. The original Bullet Time user still has the advantage though, as their bullets and movement aren’t as slowed down as the other affected players, meaning they’ll have an easier job of sinking more bullets into their enemy’s slowly moving flesh.
I won’t bore you with too many personal experiences or witty stories of using it, but I can give a gamer’s guarantee sticker on it because it works beautifully. I never would have imagined it could be implemented into multiplayer gaming so smoothly and seamlessly.
Phew. Okay, I think we’re all done with that huge information dump. Let’s talk about some of the game, starting with Team Deathmatch because I don’t have to waste a paragraph explaining the mode right off the bat and it allows me to throw some extra background information at your face.
The goal? Kill everything. Just kill everything. Got that? Good.
The only map which we were allowed to play was an abandoned bus depot (originally titled ‘Bus Depot’) and it was shockingly fun. I’ll get the obvious out of the way first and say it was slightly GTA-esque, but only very slightly. The cover system, the shooting, and the running had a very similar control feel to Rockstar’s flagship.
That’s not a bad thing, by any means, and the extras added into Max Payne 3 are where it starts to get raised above and beyond Rockstar’s previous multiplayer games. You now have a stamina meter that determines how long you can run and roll for, and of course there’s the aforementioned ability to loot dead enemy bodies for XP, adrenaline, and ammo.