Never having played the other two games in the Max Payne series, I went into my appointment with Rockstar to see Max Payne 3 with really no preconceptions. So I had to have some backstory explained to me. The basic premise of Max Payne 3 is that Max has left NYC to move to Brazil to do some private security work for an old colleague. Naturally things get complicated with a kidnapping and it just gets violent and bloody from there.
The storyline flashes back to different points of time in Max's life, so the game isn't totally set in Brazil. In fact, the first level I demoed had him working with a partner to take out enemies in a bar and working their way out onto the snowy street to finish them up. Max Payne 3 uses a new iteration of the Rage engine, and looks terrific. Rockstar went out of their way to do a crapton of motion capture so that they could create dynamic actions for whatever moves are made and still have it look as realistic as possible. In addition, the graphics are so detailed that they rival the work done in L.A. Noire. You can shoot the glasses off the bar, blow up cars by hitting the gas tank, and all kinds of other stuff that just adds to the realistic feel. I was blown away.
The other level I tried out took place at a football stadium in Brazil, and it was just as impressive-looking. Taking cover is key to survival, and I kind of wish that I was told about the dual-wielding ability and how to do it a little earlier on. Might have made things a bit easier. The classic Bullet Time has returned, and as always, killing enemies builds your meter so you can activate it and pull off some impressive headshots. (I was told that I was doing more headshots than anyone else he'd seen that weekend, but he could also just have been trying to butter me up!) Another fun feature is the Final Kill-Cam, where you see a cinematic shot of the last enemy of the group that you take out. Not only is it helpful to let you know that you're in the clear (for the moment), but you can slow down the action and pump a few more bullets into them if you feel like it! And as with all the action, it's all dynamic, so if you hit him in the face, it will disappear. In the chest, his back will open right up in response. The detail is seriously impressive.
There will also be multiplayer, although that wasn't available to try out yet. The basic concept though, is to have team-on-team matches which will include Bullet Time in a unique way. Basically, if you activate Bullet Time, your target will also go into slo-mo, but so will anyone looking at you or him. If you're off in another part of the map doing your own thing, you won't be affected. But this will also create an interesting team dynamic as you can use your teammates' Bullet Time to help yourself if you get into a jam.
Max Payne 3 is looking like another quality Rockstar AAA title, and will shoot its way into stores on May 15 for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 with a PC release following on May 29.