Max Payne’s home has always been on the PC. The original 2001 game and its sequel debuted on the PC, and though they received console versions–some of which captured the excellence of their PC counterparts and some of which didn’t–it was on PC that he first made his mark. Times have changed for Max, and his latest outing hit consoles first and PC second, which may raise concerns about whether, this time around, it’s the PC version that feels secondary and the console versions that feel definitive. As it turns out, such concerns are unfounded. Max Payne 3 is just as gorgeous and intense on PC as it is on consoles, and the pinpoint precision offered by a mouse makes the PC version the best way to enjoy this brutal and haunting shooter.
Wherever you go, there you are. It’s a truth Max Payne knows better than anyone. Fleeing his New York life to take a job working security for a wealthy family in Sao Paulo, the hard-drinkin’, pill-poppin’ Max finds that his demons come along for the ride. Though the details of the plot add up to your typical story of conspiracy and corruption, of the rich and powerful preying on the poor and helpless to become even more rich and powerful, the writing, acting, and presentation elevate this tale well above a boilerplate video game crime story.
It’s hard to stay ambivalent once you see the horrors being suffered by the innocent here, and you’ll likely want to see Max’s quest for vengeance through to its conclusion just as badly as he does. Max reveals a complexity here not seen in earlier games, as he hits rock bottom and must either stay there or face his demons head-on and make himself anew. Other characters, too, reveal a surprising humanity. You might be tempted to write off Marcelo, the youngest brother in the wealthy Branco dynasty Max is hired to protect, as the shallow playboy he often appears to be. But in moments of disarming honesty, he reveals to Max a depth that lies beneath the facade he presents to the world.