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Quick Look: Max Payne 3

I’m not massively familiar with the Max Payne series, truth be told. Although I did buy and try to play Max Payne 3 at release on what I think was the Xbox 360?

Dropping off for various reasons years ago, I just never gave it any further thought until recently. It was a a recommendation on Reddit as a Steam Deck game, and I thought it was time to go back. I was right! It was on sale, which helped. But it runs like a dream on the Steam Deck, and this entire quick look is based purely on Steam Deck gameplay.

Max Payne 3 - Bar fight

Max Payne 3

Max Payne 3 developed by Rockstar Games, marks a significant evolution in the storied “Max Payne” series. This third installment shifts the narrative and setting dramatically, taking Max from the gritty streets of New York to the sun-drenched locales of São Paulo, Brazil.

The game’s story is interesting and well-executed. Max, haunted by his past and battling his demons in the form of alcoholism and addiction to painkillers, finds himself in the midst of Brazil’s violent and corrupt underworld. The narrative, punctuated by Max’s signature noir-style monologues, is mature, deep, and often introspective, exploring themes of loss, betrayal, and redemption.

Gameplay in Max Payne 3 is both challenging and rewarding. The game sticks to its third-person shooter roots but elevates the experience with smooth controls and realistic physics. The cover system is intuitive, and the gunplay feels both visceral and precise. The game’s difficulty curve is well-balanced, offering a fair challenge that escalates as the story progresses.

Max Payne 3 - Shiny

Looks and sounds

Graphically, Max Payne 3 is great. On the Steam Deck running at maximum settings on everything, I’ve locked it at 40 frames per second, and it sings. The game employs Rockstar’s advanced RAGE engine, which delivers stunningly detailed environments and character models. The visual style, combined with cinematic effects like the series’ trademark “bullet time,” creates a highly immersive experience. The attention to detail in the environments, from the favelas to the luxurious penthouses, adds depth to the game’s world.

The soundtrack and voice acting deserve special mention. The music perfectly complements the game’s tone, with a mix of intense action scores and melancholic tunes that echo Max’s inner turmoil. Voice acting, particularly James McCaffrey’s performance as Max, is top-notch, bringing depth and authenticity to the character.

Max Payne 3 - Rooftop


I remember playing online years ago and it wasn’t particularly fun. Finding a match now is proving difficult, so it’s hard to comment here. However, it’s still there and perhaps I’ll get some games in at some point.


Max Payne 3 is linear as heck, which isn’t something you see too much these days. The game follows a very structured path, with limited exploration. This design choice keeps the story tight and focused. I’ll be honest, it’s exactly what I need right now after a year of massive games taking all my time.

Even Halo isn’t this tightly structured in Halo Infinite. I love exploring worlds, but every now and then it’s nice to be on the rails and just have a bit of fun. Bullet time, blood and corridors. I’ve been all-in on it to be honest.

Max Payne 3 is a great chapter in a beloved series. It successfully transports the brooding hero into a new setting while retaining the core elements that apparently made the previous games great. The combination of a compelling story, stunning graphics, solid gameplay, and excellent sound design makes it a must-play for fans of the series and newcomers alike. The game’s mature themes and narrative depth set it apart in the genre, making it not just a great action game, but a powerful storytelling experience.

Highly Recommended

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