|02-08-2012, 07:39 AM||#1 (permalink)|
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Malaysia (GMT+8)
YJ's PS3 Game Reviews
INSERT BANNER HERE
Welcome to my PS3 Game Reviews! I've thought of posting reviews in the past but always pro-crastinated and never had the time to gather my scattered thoughts. Well I finally pulled it together and actually sat down to do it. Constructive comments & feedback are welcomed.
4 July 2012 - Max Payne 3, Review
11 March 2012 - Final Fantasy XIII-2, Review
Complete List of Articles:
Last edited by yewjhin; 07-04-2012 at 07:26 AM.
|02-08-2012, 07:39 AM||#2 (permalink)|
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Malaysia (GMT+8)
I don't consider myself a Yakuza veteran, I've never played the first two games of the series, or any of the spinoffs. I happened to pick up Yakuza 3 one fine day, without even an inkling of what it contains. I was just desperate for something new. Lo and behold, I wasn't just satisfied with it, I was thoroughly impressed by it.
It was a no brainer to pickup this sequel and I was further motivated by the prospect of completing another challenging game (though that turned out differently when the trophy list was released).
Note: Individual category ratings DO NOT reflect overall rating. That's my style.
The Yakuza series has been known for its emotional storylines, laced with the manliness that is Kiryu Kazuma "Dragon of Dojima" and his tattoo. There's always some sort of conspiracy plot in every Yakuza game, with the complimentary explosions and action-packed cutscenes. Who doesn't love a story like that? He oughta be kicked in the nuts.
Team CS1, the developers, have gone with 4 main protagonists this time, each with their individual story arc. Enter
On paper it seems like there's very little exposure given to each individual, but that's the beauty of the Yakuza series. It doesn't need lengthy voice-acting to tell the full story. In this modern generation, the game stands defiant by sticking with text-only dialogue, complimented by short but well-timed cutscenes and emotional facial expressions.
The story's bound to attract any fan of series, and if you like Japanese Action-RPGs in general, you will be able to find some common ground as well.
Alot of people tend to compare Yakuza to GTA. It's not totally wrong, but not exactly fair either. Yakuza games have traditionally focused on the small district of Kamurocho, a fictionalized yet realistic recreation of Shinjuku's red light district - Kabukicho. It's the opposite of the citywide gameplay of GTA, but don't be fooled by the size of the playground - there's twice as much stuff to do in Yakuza than GTA. The gist of it are:
There's a ton more of stuff to do, and ingame challenges that will entice everyone from the most casual players to the most hardcore ones.
Much of the game is spent traveling on foot, so the controls are just like any other game. Yakuza's combat system is more along the lines of a street side beat'em up style. The movement and controls are very fluid, making for a better playing experience compared to the more rigid & clunky controls of GTA. The formula hasn't changed much since the early days, because its a simple yet effective one. If I were to sum up the combat, it kinda plays like a simplified version of Tekken, with blood, weapons and crazy or hilarious Finishers.
This is the department where the game receives the most flak. Most critics would point out that each installment of the game is merely an updated version of the first game, with new and returning characters only in a different storyline. And to be honest, that's somewhat true.
If you're particular on how the game looks, then yeah, this is no Crysis 2/Deus Ex/Uncharted 3. It's never been the series' strong points. The developers are just more satisfied in providing quality content over candy looks.
This isn't one of the series' strong points either, but if you're after authentic Japanese expressions, then you'll be more than satisfied. Successfully complete a challenge and your character will exclaim "Yosh!!" or nod his head and mumble "Mhmmm...". Make a mistake and he'll shake his head and mumble something different.
Get into a fight/cutscene, and that usually starts off with Yakuzas throwing off their shirts and flaunting their tattoos (they really like doing that, alot), while screaming curses or waving the fingers in a "come and get me" motion. Tiny details, but completely essential to the experience.
Oh did I mention that all voice-acting is strictly in Japanese? Awesome.
Heart-pumping? Checked. Lively? Checked. Catchy beats? Checked. Despite the different opening themes between the JP version and English version, both songs will have you humming to the it not long after you've heard them for the first time. If you're curious, the JP version is titled "Butterfly City" by Zeebra. The English version is titled "For Faith" (and there's 4 variations of it with different rhythms!!).
The rest of the soundtrack doesn't disappoint either, with both fast and slow melodies. You may even find yourself joining in the Karaoke minigame and singing to the tune. It's that fun.
Japanese Opening Movie
English Opening Movie
Wow Factor: 5/10
There's rarely any close-call, over-the-edge, type of scenarios in Yakuza. Those are mostly reserved for the sci-fi or fantasy genre. The game is more down-to-earth, but has its Japanese-style bizarre moments.
Replay Value: 9/10
It's a story driven game, but I wouldn't be playing the game again just for the sake of reliving the dialogue and cutscenes. However, as I mentioned earlier in the Gameplay section, there's tons of stuff to do postgame that it'll keep you occupied for at least 100 hours if you're keen enough to pursue it.
Rent or Buy this Game?
It really depends on if you're the type of person that's into Japanese Culture. For those that are, this is a great game for your collection. If you're not the type but still curious, then rent it and give it a try first.
Your Personal Verdict & Your Final Rating: 9/10
I may be biased as I love the series alot, but truly its a great game. Its probably a love-it or hate-it type of game, but once you're hooked you'll never be able to let go.
Last edited by yewjhin; 03-10-2012 at 02:30 PM.
|02-08-2012, 07:42 AM||#3 (permalink)|
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Malaysia (GMT+8)
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
I've never had much experience with the Elder Scrolls series, or Bethesda's games in general. Granted, Fallout 3 was my first platinum, but that was back in the days when I had just got my PS3 and had a strict entertainment budget. I also purchased a used copy of Oblivion and promptly sold it the next day as I didn't find the gameplay to my liking then and there were no trophies as incentive to waste my time on it.
Naturally, I had skipped Fallout: New Vegas last year as I was positive that the game would still be a bug-fest, which was true. I had intended on skipping Skyrim on the same basis, but seeing as the game won multiple GOTY awards and word has it that it actually deserves the awards, I picked up a used copy and prayed that it lives up to the hype.
In Skyrim, you play as a character of special heritage, the Dragonborn, prophesized to save the world from ruin from the World-Eater, Aldiun. You are the hero destined to slay dragons, absorbed their souls and use it to empower your "Voice" which is a special skill that produce various effects.
Parallel to that, there's a Civil War going on in Skyrim and at the beginning of the game, you just happen to be in the same wagon as Ulfric Stormcloak, one of the faction's leaders. Both of you are on the way to a death sentence, when some dragon just swoops in out of nowhere creating chaos & destruction, allowing you and the others to escape.
These are the 2 main story questlines in the game: the "Prophesized Dragonborn" and the "Civil War", which should keep things interesting for 20 hours or so. The theme is always the same, that you're some special someone and you alone have the power to save world.
The main quests are fairly linear, without any plot twists nor engaging scenes. Hence, I found this Savior of the World story fairly boring/unoriginal and extremely lacking of stimulants. With the game already lacking of cutscenes and voice-acting of your character, I could not find anything that would endear me to the cause at hand, I couldn't empathize with my character, and quite frankly I just stopped caring. Here I am just a tool, running around putting out fires, saving the world, but there's nothing about my background: "Where did I come from? How did I end up as Dragonborn? What drives the World-Eater? How did the Prophecy come about?"
There are other smaller story arcs involving the Warrior, Mage and Thief guilds but to be honest they are nothing more than the usual "go there, do this/collect that/kill someone" type.
Quite frankly, there was nothing in the game that encouraged me to even remotely like my character, the plot or anything else. This lack of attachment caused me to wander Skyrim early on for a good 30 hours, doing various sidequests and menial tasks until I got fed up with the repetitiveness and said:"Okay screw it, let's just finish this damn game's trophies and be done with it."
As is a staple of Bethesda's RPG games, Skyrim belongs to the open-world nonlinear type of game. You are free to pursue any quest at any time you like. You can roam the world onfoot, on horseback, or quick travel to any location you have previously discovered.
Traditionally, there is no "Class" system in the Elder Scrolls series. You could play as a Two-Handed Warrior for the first few hours, switch to being a Battlemage later, all the while possessing the skills of a sneaking Thief. Your character gains experience by using the various skills at your disposal, the more you use them, the faster you level up.
There's alot of Skyrim to explore, with hundreds of locations and quests. Thank god there aren't any trophies for exploring all of Skyrim or completing every quest, because otherwise you'd be looking at hundreds of hours spend - a mouth watering prospect for the hardcore.
The killer blow to the game lies in the numerous bugs that haunts just about every current gen Bethesda Game. Is this a side-effect of Bethesda's famed Radiant Story system? Or is this a result of a game engine that is long overdued for a upgrade?
When I purchasee the game, I was playing on patch 1.03 which supposedly had fixed most of the major bugs that came with the initial release. Despite that, I encountered numerous bugs myself (quests that wouldn't start, followers that'd go missing and refuse to follow orders etc), along with the usual framerate drops, lagging and eventually complete freezing.
Needless to say, it was an extremely frustrating experience. I couldn't begin to imagine how people who awarded the GOTY title to this game actually conduct their evaluations. If I had any say in the matter, I'd condemn the game into the "technically rubbish" category. This "Radiant Story" concept and open-worldness is good and blends really well, but the problems with the game far outweigh the pros.
Maybe it's because I'm an Engineer by profession. If something doesn't work the way it should be, it probably pisses me off more than it does to other people.
The graphics is on par with most other games of this generation, with nothing in particular that stands out. As I did not play its predecessor ESIV: Oblivion, I cannot give an accurate comparison. I do however emphasize once again that over time, players will begin to experience framerate drops, lagging and eventually complete freezing.
Sound (Gameplay): 7/10
The voice acting in the game is standard fare though I wish there could've been some sort of voice acting of my OWN created character. Imagine if you were playing Adam Jensen (of Deus Ex: Human Revolution) and he was just a mute character nodding his head to his boss all the time. Where would the attraction be? The combat effects: Spells, Screams, Shouts, Roars and some portions of the dialogue are above average, combining very well especially during the later main quests.
Sound (Music): 8.5/10
Now this is one element of the game I can truly sing praises to. Load up the game and the main menu music is just superb. You also hear it sometimes when fighting dragons, among other great combat music. Its the type of music that can feel in your skin as your character unleashes a torrent of spells or brings that sword down on the dragon's head.
Wow Factor: 6.5/10
Erm, the thing that's going for this game is that you get to slay dragons, ransack ancient tombs and undertake quests for evil deities. After a while though, it gets boring and tedious, and there's no way around it if you want those trophies.
Replay Value: 8/10
The game's good for those who are obsessed with finding every location, completing every quest, mastering every skill and doing whatever there is to do in the game. But for most players though, I imagine that once they have their Platinum Trophies - which takes about 100 invested hours, they'll quit.
Rent or Buy this Game?
It's pretty hard to do this game on a rental unless you're able to rent and play it consistently for 1-2 weeks and a significant number of hours played everyday. I'd recommend buying the game if you just want to know what the fuss is about and/or you want the Platinum. After you're done, you can decide if its a keeper, cause I sure don't think so.
Your Personal Verdict & Your Final Rating: 7/10
No doubt the open world, play-as-you-like/Class-less system and Radiant Story concept all make for very attractive features, but the sheer amount of bugs in the game, combined with the lack of tangible attachment to your character and the main plot serve to undermine what would've been fine work. Truly dedicated fans will be able to turn a blind eye and enjoy the game, whereas those not familiar with the series will likely find themselves bored, and perhaps frustrated on many occasions.
Last edited by yewjhin; 03-13-2012 at 05:00 PM.
|02-08-2012, 07:45 AM||#4 (permalink)|
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Malaysia (GMT+8)
Final Fantasy XIII-2 Review
Final Fantasy XIII-2
Let's start by saying this: I am a FF fan. FF7 was the first game in the series that I played and the first RPG that I've played (or remember). It was the year 1998, I was 12 at the time, and I had only learned that there was such things called a PC and Playstation only that year. It totally blew that young kid away.
About a dozen installments and spinoffs later in the franchise, we now arrive at FF XIII-2. As you must've heard, FF XIII is a game that has divided many fans and neutrals alike. The game's linear plot, absence of traditional villages/towns/cities that function as quest hubs, and combat system has drawn both criticism and praise from both sides of the border.
My opinion? I think the FFXIII did well and delivered what the developers intended. I understand that long time RPG lovers would want the game to be more like its predecessors or other traditional JRPGs. However I consider, if just for a moment:" If someone wants to present an innovative/unique experience, can we not hold a game to its original design intentions, instead of our own personal expectations?"
This is the same principle I apply to my Yakuza and Skyrim reviews. Bethesda intended for Skyrim to be groundbreaking, market-leading, to be crowned GOTY (and it did, thanks to a hypnotized mass media?), but really, can you honestly call a game with dragons flying backwards and more game breaking bugs than its rivals combined GOTY-worthy? On the other side, Team Yakuza intended to deliver an experience of the Japanese underworld, and it did so brilliantly.
I digress, let's get on with the review.
FFXIII-2 picks up 3 years after the events of its predecessor. In the beginning, players are introduced to an world named Valhalla, where Lightning battles a mysterious man. The game then shifts to Serah, and a new protagonist - Noel.
Players find out that the timeline has been altered, things aren't as we remembered it to be at the end of FFXIII. Lightning has gone missing in the current era, written off as either dead or in crystal stasis after the climax of the final battle against Orphan. Snow has disappeared, believing Serah's version of events to be true and gone in search of her sister. Noel claims he's from the future, a world where he is the last surviving human, a world where Cocoon fell and doomed the world to the brink of destruction, and he wants to avoid that. Serah and Noel then embark on a time traveller's journey, determined to fix the timeline and find out the truth, aided by a friendly Moogle.
Noel introduces himself
Fancy a Moogle, kupo?
Introducing time travelling into the plot is always a risky maneuver. Creative writers risk overcomplicating and undermining the main plot by introducing paradoxes, multiple versions of events that are often ridiculous or make no sense at all, and too many time periods and characters. Well folks, I am happy to say that Square-Enix has avoided almost all that, by implementing a relatively shorter plot than the predecessor. Much of the story revolves around traveling to destinations in different eras and playing repairman by solving paradoxes.
Limiting the number of protagonists to Serah and Noel effectively gives them more screen time and space to explore their thoughts and backgrounds, and I would say that is the ideal way to go for such a short plot. This is in contrast to FFXIII's group of 6 Protagonists, and also where the player barely knows shit about Jihl Nabaat, or Cid Raines, who all have brief cameos that to this day I have no idea why they exist at all.
So theoretically, FFXIII-2 should've had a deeper, more focused storyline, but that is not the case. Although players are well aware that this is a journey in search for truth, all that time spent fixing these paradoxes do not seem to add value to the main plot. The characters all seem to have been affected by the Snow-syndrome and the way they are portrayed gives off the feeling that they are overwhelmingly optimistic. Every time Serah & Noel hit an obstacle or setback, they keep convincing themselves they just need to push forward, eliminating any logical thought process on the matter and instead just results in another boss fight. They win, and paradox fixes itself. All of that just seems to be too simplified and convenient. There's doesn't seem to exist any significant purpose to their actions other than fighting their way to the other end of the path and just hoping it leads to Lightning.
Over the course of their travels, Serah & Noel constantly run into the immortal Caius, the mysterious man in the opening cutscene who serves as the game's antagonist, and a young Seeress named Yuel. In time, Caius develops into a villain that tugs at your heart's strings, in that he is not the Sephiroth who desires world destruction, but is just someone who wants to prevent something which he perceives as cruelty.
The Seeress Yuel
In this time traveling tale, there is only one true ending. However you have the chance to revisit previous locations and replay major battles to unlock "What-If" endings. Fragments and Artefacts are needed to open up more locations from alternate eras for further exploration, and a good portion of these are found in the form of mostly short sidequests.
For my money's worth (I bought the US Collectors Edition worth $100), I am of the opinion that this is a decent story. The plot is right on its track without ever confusing players, but the writers were also too good at maintaining a straight plot. A couple more plot twists, a little more injection of drama, confusion and suspense could've turned an average story into a good one, just like Uncharted 3's later chapters where someone "died" and it felt kinda emotional. The ending however, is a total "WTF was that?!" moment.
The Paradigm combat system of FFXIII is virtually intact in this game, either to the cheers or chagrins of those who like it or hate it. Character development has been revamped from a linear leveling system to a somewhat customizable one. Players now have some degree of control over the stat development of your characters, allowing you to prioritize Physical Strength or Magical Power of Serah & Noel, and their roles. However, the lack of traditionally challenging bosses and enemies alike leaves a void for veteran RPG players, and more apparent when the game features an "Easy" mode. You can screw up your development and still expect to beat every fight easily in this game.
A new addition to combat is the inclusion of Monster Allies. Monsters that you encounter throughout the game can be tamed and added as the 3rd member of the party. Each monsters comes with their respective stats, growth pattern, and abilities. You can even transfer certain abilities from one monster to the other through "infusion", providing you the opportunity to develop your team the way you want it. Completionists will revel in collecting every monster and developing them as much as possible, providing lots of replay value.
Chocobo vs Gigantuar
Sidequests are now available and scattered all over the timeline, often requiring you to jump back and forth between different eras of a same location. Most of these are of the go-fetch/go-kill type and typically lasts no more than 10-20 minutes if you have everything ready. Village/city/town hubs are reintroduced in this game, but serve little more than necessary decorations or safe refuge from battles in most locations.
A casino-theme park, Serendipity is also included in the game, though the activities available in the core game is limited to Chocobo Racing and Slot Machines. A note ingame states that more games are set to arrive in future DLCs, such as the recently released Sazh DLC.
Nostalgia ala FF7's Golden Saucer
FFXIII-2 continues to deliver strongly in this department, further extending the beautiful graphics into finer details of the environment. Though there are fewer cutscenes this time around, the ambient surroundings and effects such as snow and raindrops falling onto characters skins are rendered pretty nicely, and even included in combat. A disappointing note however is that there aren't many beautiful scenery this time around, perhaps this is down to the short length and time-travelling aspect of the game where you are not expected to stay in one place for long.
City of Academia
Sound (Gameplay): 7.5/10
English version - One thing that I feel SE has been consistently good all this time is the quality of the English voice acting. Some may not agree with me, particularly those well versed in Japanese, and I do agree that the Japanese voice-overs are indeed better, but to me the English VA has never disappoint either. Most may not notice, but in my opinion the sounds effects and background themes are carefully composed and blends well with each environment.
Last edited by yewjhin; 06-11-2012 at 06:17 AM.
|02-08-2012, 07:58 AM||#5 (permalink)|
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Malaysia (GMT+8)
Final Fantasy XIII-2 Review (Continued)
Final Fantasy XIII-2 (Continued)
Sound (Music): 9/10
Though the great Nobuo Uematsu is no longer at SE, it is good to know that the current crop of composers can still hold their own and provide a good variety of music whether in the form of fast beats or slow tunes. My favourite has to be Noel's Theme, the slow melancholy at the time when the characters seem to have lost their direction combines for an emotional scene. I absolutely love these FF piano-only melodies, and its a good thing the CE came with a 4-disc soundtrack.
Other recommendations are: Main Theme, Caius' Theme, Serah's Theme, the techno-rap Worlds Collide (another favourite), and Heart of Chaos.
Replay Value: 6/10
As previously mentioned, the inclusion of Monster Allies will keep Completionists busy until more DLC arrives. However, I do have the concern that Square Enix may exploit the fact that majority of the fanbase will readily purchase any FF related DLC, especially given the quality of the recent Sazh DLC which was a catastrophic failure in terms of promised content vs what was delivered. In a nutshell, SE promised a mini-story with the Sazh DLC, but only delivered a few lines of conversation and a couple of minigames with dysfunctional AI.
Rent or Buy this Game?
Buy !! Unless you're not fond of JRPGs or Final Fantasy in particular.
Your Personal Verdict & Your Final Rating: 8.5/10
I have the impression that Square Enix set out and hoped to both pacify critics and satisfy hungry fans at once with this sequel by implementing time-traveling as a method of revisiting previous locations, reintroducing sidequests and quest hubs, and including the Monster Allies in an effort to inject replay value, of which all of these were absent from the first game. I would say they did okay in that respect, but the plot could've really used more creativity and depth.
As for myself, I found the pace of the game to my liking with timely breaks in between all the fighting. However, the lack of challenge in terms of difficulty and dungeon crawling meant that players may find that the core game is over before they know it. Despite the WTF ending and the bitter taste left by the recent Sazh DLC, FFXIII-2 is still worth every penny if you enjoyed its predecessor.
Last edited by yewjhin; 03-13-2012 at 05:02 PM.
|02-26-2012, 07:54 PM||#6 (permalink)|
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Vancouver, Canada
Well that was fun to read, Yakuza 4 wise . Dead Souls can't come soon enough.
|03-02-2012, 07:44 PM||#7 (permalink)|
Join Date: May 2010
Location: St. Louis, MO
Great Skyrim review. I like how you also include wither players should rent or purchase the games you review. Yeah, Skyrim is perhaps the best open world out there to pick up. Hope to get it on sale for about $30 though. Still no luck.
|03-02-2012, 08:07 PM||#8 (permalink)|
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: US (GMT -5)
Before I rant about Skyrim and Bethesda, let me just say that these reviews are quite awesome. Much better than the one or two sentences for each section rubbish that tends to get posted in the game review threads (and no offense intended to those that run those threads; I know it's not your fault people write crappy reviews). Looking forward to reading more in the future.
Nice to see someone not give such a technical nightmare a thorough ball licking. Skryim getting any GOTY awards makes me further question the intelligence (or lack thereof) of the internet. Everyone just wants to pass off that "well bugs are common in big games because there's so much to test so it's fine lol". Small bugs, yes. Big ones that hinder your ability to play the game, no. Being unable to start quests? Unacceptable. Followers that randomly disappear? Unacceptable. The game becoming more and more unplayable with crashes, framerate drops, and freezing the longer you play it? COMPLETELY UNACCEPTABLE, especially seeing as Fallout 3 and Fallout New Vegas were plagued by the same problems. Third game in a row with these issues. By now you would think that they would actually FIX the problem, especially since Skryim was the big new game with the "new" engine. Too bad it's just a further upgraded version of the same engine that hasn't fixed these massive, game breaking flaws.
The only way I'll ever play Skyrim is if I grab it for $5 from a Steam sale. That way it's cheap, I'll have access to the developer console to fix problems like quests that don't start or NPCs that disappear (had to do this many times playing New Vegas), I'll have access to fan patches that should help immensely with the freezing/crashing problems later on in the game, and if it does crash despite all that, usually the game will just crash and kick me back to the desktop, which won't force me to unsafely cut the power to the PS3 like Fallout 3 made me do oh so many times. And even then I'm still not sure I'd buy it, because I really don't like the idea of giving such an incompetent, uncaring developer even that little of my money.
Last edited by mjc0961; 07-08-2012 at 08:22 PM. Reason: fucking typos
|03-10-2012, 03:41 PM||#9 (permalink)|
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Malaysia (GMT+8)
Thanks for the feedback guys! Pretty new at this and its really time consuming, but I do hope to do more reviews.
Update: Final Fantasy XIII-2 is up!! Took a few hours to get that together, and I'm pretty pissed about the 10,000 character limit at the moment, had to split the writing into two posts which looks ugly.
PS3T Custom List Progress: 45/50
Last edited by yewjhin; 03-10-2012 at 03:54 PM.
|06-11-2012, 07:11 AM||#10 (permalink)|
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Malaysia (GMT+8)
Max Payne 3
Nope, I've never played any of the previous Max Payne games. Yep, I've watched the movie, and I don't understand shit about it. Seriously, drugs and hallucinations about demons? The movie sucked, I don't even remember how his wife died anymore.
Max Payne - former NYPD detective, lost his wife and daughter to a crime syndicate, waged a one-man war against drugs. He's had his revenge, but he's never been cured from grief from the loss of his loved ones, resorting to painkillers and alcohol to numb the pain. A chance meeting with Raul Passos brings our protagonist to Sao Paolo, Brazil, as the bodyguard of wealthy mogul Rodrigo Branco and his family, in an attempt escape his troubled past.
Naturally, trouble always finds Max and he finds himself entangled in a insider plot where Rodrigo's wife Fabiana is kidnapped and he is murdered by street gangs. The plot thickens when the local police and paramilitary are found to be involved and it is revealed that residents from the favelas (slums) are drugged, kidnapped and harvested for organs by a secret syndicate.
Max blames himself for everything that is happening, and goes on a one man mission to save Fabiana, find out the truth behind these events, and bring justice to the perpetrators.
If you're new to the Max Payne series, you'll be glad to know this - you don't need to know about what happened in the previous games, it just doesn't matter. Rockstar's done an amazing job with the script, and the narration by Max's voice actor James Mcaffrey does a fantastic job of storytelling and giving personality to this beat-down ex-cop with a troubled past.
Most of the storytelling comes from Max himself, his cynical inner thoughts giving form to his feelings and point of view of the events at hand. The complex use of metaphors and wordplay lend the narration a sense of drama and other times a sense of reality through the eyes of a man who had deemed his future ended by a cruel fate. The narration and voice acting is so good, it is hard to not listen to Max when he talks. Cutscenes load seamlessly and voice acting all round is just superb and very engaging that you won't want to miss any details.
The story periodically interweaves between the events of the past and present, leaving no stone unturned and few if any plot holes behind, allowing players to connect with the character and a glimpse of the incidents that led up to the moment. The levels are richly portrayed in detail - from the favelas and vibrant street life of Sao Paolo to the cold snowy nights in the streets of a mafia-controlled New Jersey. Max's one man mission takes place in a variety of diversed locations - Football stadiums, corporate offices, atop luxury boats & the Panama Canal, graveyards, backalleys & rooftops, airports, nightclubs, slums and so on.
Overall, it'll be 8-10 hours of time well spent by the time you've completed the story and you can help but feel for Max at the end.
Ah, here we are, the meat of the game - Shooting enemies and dodging bullets. Unlike most of the current gen shooters, Max Payne uses the traditional life bar/gauge. Painkillers scattered throughout the levels are your first aid kits and you are automatically put into Last Stand if you have any painkillers with you when your life gauge depletes. Killing enemies or being shot at generates adrenaline, and with a press of a button Max can enter "Bullet Time" which is basically entering a slow-motion state, allowing you to place shots and dodge bullets, while consuming adrenaline. A variation of this is "Shootdodge" where Max leaps acrobatically in one direction in slow-motion, while you attempt to blast heads off.
Now, I don't know who first championed "Bullet Time" or slow-motion bullet dodging mechanics first - Max Payne, The Matrix, or some other media. And I don't care, because to it was invented FOR Max Payne. Bullet Time is an essential part of the game, and so happens, it fits the game perfectly unlike some other games that have similar features. The game does have a few situations where Bullet Time comes into play - Shooting an RPG out from the sky, jumping out a window into a group of enemies, lying on a rolling cart past a hallway crawling with snipers, flying down a zipline - all these serve for lots of adrenaline-filled action.
I should warn you that you need to resign yourself to the fact that you'll be dying alot. Enemies are very brutal and accurate on Hard and Hardcore difficulties. Popping out of cover without Bullet Time can lead to fatal results, and rushing head on can get you killed in matter of seconds. However, like painkillers, the gameplay can be quite addictive thanks to solid shooting mechanics which are easy to pickup. But learning to master free-aim, now that's something you need to practice.
In addition to the main story, there are a couple of different game modes - Score Attack, New York Minute, and New York Minute Hardcore, which should be familiar to veterans of the series.
I wouldn't call the graphics state of the art, after all this is a story-driven shooter but they are good enough to impress. Each location has its own distinct flavor and design that you won't feel bored. Cutscenes are rendered very smoothly and there are no intervening loading times, but this also means that cutscenes are typically long in an effort to allowing for background loading, and that means they're practically unskippable. That's a pain the ass for those playing the game on multiple playthroughs and on NYM/NYM HC.
But the beauty of this game is that the graphics seem to blend really, really well with yet again, the narration. Max's monologues often bring up the words "Hell". And what better way than to have him injured and trudging through a burning building, attempting to escape a metaphorical Hell? The many levels complement the narration most suitably (or is it the other way around?), such as "irony" and bars.
As most players will notice, there seems to be a consistent "screen shifting/displacement" effect, attributed to Max's alcoholic abuse and constant hangovers. Its tiny, but it lends character to the protagonist.
Sound (Gameplay & Music): 8/10
First things first, the music score on this game is excellent. If you're the type that knows how to appreciate Noir films, you won't be disappointed at all, it's perfectly suited to this story. Max's an ex-cop, grieving through alcohol and painkillers, it just wouldn't do for rock-&-roll music to follow him everywhere. Fret not though, its not all Noir all the way, thanks to the partying life of key plot characters and the street life of Sao Paolo, you also get some hip-hop beats in doses.
Top-notch performances from voice actors, particularly James Mcaffrey as the titular character are a crucial part of the game, and arguably the most outstanding highlight of the game. It can be boring to always hear the same person's thoughts, but with Max Payne, it never is boring.
Replay Value: 7/10
It's an epic story, but I wouldn't put it past anyone to play more than 2 back-to-back complete playthroughs of the game due to the length of the game and unskippable cutscenes and after a while it gets boring hearing the same thing over and over again, dying over and over again. After hearing those quirky, intelligent and dark humor quotes, you'll be tempted to go through the game again once in a while to relive the experience, and for that it is better to space out your playing time and enjoy the full experience.
Unfortunately, dedicated completionists will have to complete at least 4 playthroughs (Hard, Hardcore/Old Skool, New York Minute, and New York Minute Hardcore) for the platinum.
Last edited by yewjhin; 07-04-2012 at 07:39 AM.