How Max Payne 3 reminded me that mainstream gaming is doomed

by Stephen Heller Featured 4 Comments 17 Votes 3866 Views 03/10/2012 Back to Articles

I recently had a discussion with a friend of mine who has been without internet for about nine months now. Personally I would go insane, but now he's back online he is desperately trying to catch up on all the gaming he missed out on while he was out of action, which is hilarious when he asks me if I've heard of the new game from id Software which came out almost twelve months ago now.

We got onto the topic of Max Payne 3 and when he asked my opinion of the game, I noticed it had changed considerably from the 9/10 review I had written some five months ago.

We talked about our mutual love for the first game, the twisted story of a NYPD detective whose family was murdered at the hands of drug addicts. It's noir tone and pulp attitude when compared to other shooters at the time helped it stand out from the crowd, and having Bullet Time right around the time The Matrix had hit its peak certainly didn't hurt. However there was one thing that my friend and I could definitely agree on, killing hundreds of goons with some of the best shooting mechanics to ever grace games made us feel like unstoppable badasses, and that's where May Payne excelled.

When I think about Max Payne 3 nothing has really changed dramatically. Of course the graphical upgrade has been massive and the introduction of true physics thanks to the RAGE engine is remarkable, the core gameplay is still the same. Run into a room, shoot armed goons while in slow-mo, jumping, diving, sliding your way through massive gunfights like a John Woo movie on crack, it's all here. So why now, five months after release, do I not care about Max Payne 3 in the slightest?

On paper I should be screaming praise from the highest mountain after finishing what is easily one of Rockstar's finest achievements in story telling. When compared to the first two games, Max Payne 3's writing isn't even in the same league, it's an entirely new sport. The performances by the cast are head and shoulders above most AAA titles out there. There certainly wasn't anything wrong with the tale of Max and his struggle is South America.

Maybe gamers have just evolved. Games are getting shorter and shorter by the year, with many single-player experiences only taking 4-6 hours to complete. While high production costs certainly have a hand in this shift towards shorter experiences, perhaps running through environments shooting hundreds of people for 10 hours just isn't as compelling as it was five years ago.

Plenty of games get past this issue however; Call of Duty introduced us to a fancy XP and unlock system for online play which has millions of gamers still hooked today, causing the entire online industry to shift and implement something similar for their shooters. Now when a new gamer goes back to a title like Counter-Strike: Source or Day of Defeat it looks dated and feels empty.

Borderlands 2 combats this boredom by combining XP systems from RPGs and adding in loot and weapon discovery that made Diablo III famous, but at the end of the day it's all about shooting enemies in the face.

Max Payne 3 didn't have any of these bells and whistles to distract us from the fact that it is just another shooter, with another hundred guys to kill, albeit in a glorious and colourful setting with some of the best physics we have ever seen.

It may feature one of the better stories in gaming, it may stay true to the series, it may even feature some of the best set-pieces we've ever seen, but the truth of the matter is that Max Payne 3 and most action games are becoming forgettable experiences that don't rate very highly no matter which way you look at them.

Mashing genres, adding XP and unlocks are only quick-fix solutions, how long until these features become tired and dated?

That fact ladies and gentlemen, makes me a sad gamer indeed.

By Stephen Heller

Link to us http://pc.mmgn.com/Articles/how-max-payne-3-reminded-me-that-mainstr
Tags: 3 Doomed gaming is Major max payne
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How Max Payne 3 reminded me that mainstream gaming is doomed Comments

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I think it's a little dramatic to call mainstream gaming doomed. After all, COD is still doing extremely well but this isn't the point of the article right, not just about monetary success yeah?

As for non-mainstream gaming? Is it the niche that gets you more excited. it seems from what I've read about your gaming habits, you seem to love the 'indie' scene and I totally get that cause its very interesting right now!

anyways...
I'm going to make a few assumptions because I've not played MP3, as much as I would have liked too.
As far as I know Max Payne has always been about the story and you seem to highlight how well they've told a story here but how does that make gaming doomed if the story great?
Max Payne 3 more about the single player experience yeah so therefore it's done well and did it's job right? I don't always go back every week once I've finished it, this isn't fifa.

I haven't heard much about the multi-player so it's just run of the mill stuff right? So if thats the case, it's kinda hard to compare this with Call of duty which seems to be carried forward by its online community, borderlands etc.

I think the problem here is not the story, not the graphics but the amount of FPS games out there and it may come down to the fact that you're always inundated with FPS that leads to that - saturation of the game genre.

Games these days esp FPS seem to struggle to provide a solid single-player and an outstanding, unique online version at the same time. Look at spec ops as a good example. the story is great, the multi-player is generic at best.

Everything gets tiresome after a while, once people 'borrow' ideas and the same thing is repeated over and over again.

Did Max Payne capture its audience? Was online play note worthy to increase re-playability or could co-op improve longevity? It's hard to get all that right, with the budgets games have and sometimes keeping it simple without all these "bonuses" provides purer game-play.
Problem with non-mainstream is that, as @Punk mentioned, it's a bigger risk and it might hurt the industry going forward: a thriving indie scene is great if it has the financial support backing it up, and if people are buying the product.

Mainstream gaming is hurt atm because publishers don't want to take a risk. It's where indie gamers with low risk-high reward ideas are coming from, but eventually that leads to a crash.

Then don't limit yourself to mainstream games, problem solved.
I think you have some valid concerns, but I think the solution is in innovation. I remember the first game console I had was the n64, and while I was younger, games I had then did take a long time to play through. After knowing it, i could do a run of starfox 64 in an hour or two, but the learning curve was there. Super Mario 64 had many hours, and I think i replayed Ocarina 10 times at least. Super Smash brothers of course had hours and hours of multiplayer fun. I think more and more the replay value and hours are coming from co-op and multiplayer aspects as supposed to single player campaigns. I don't think length is necessarily an issue, so long as the duration doesn't drag on and it's fun along the way.

The fact that games sell well is enough for big companies to keep going. But like I said, if this continues as it is and people stop buying stuff, then innovation is the key.

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