Max Payne 3 should have been a reboot. Hell, it practically already feels like one; from the general lack of reference to previous games, the dramatic change in tone and dialog, to the wildly different characterization of Payne himself, to make no mention of the gameplay differences, Max Payne 3 feels almost wholly unrelated to the other games bearing the name. Max himself feels like an entirely different character: he's never been a cheery fellow, but in MP3, he's downright hateful and extremely judgmental of others. The problem is that the game feels content to leave us in the dark as to why he's changed so much. In fact, Max is given very little development at all: we know he he has a drinking and painkiller problem, but that's it: he could have easily been replaced in the story by another disgraced cop without any major repercussions. There are of course other breaks with the feel of previous games: the lack of humor and the absence of metaphors stand out, but I can accept that these are stylistic choices and don't intrinsically lower the quality of the game. Some of the decisions they made with the gameplay, however, do. Controls have never been Rockstar's strong suit, so I never expected Max Payne 3 to match up to its sublime predecessor, and I was right: it doesn't. They have traded off some responsiveness in movement and aiming in favor of smoother animations, resulting in a slightly sluggish feel more in line with recent third-person-shooters than Max Payne 2. Shoot-dodging is canceled if you hit a wall (which is appropriately painful looking, but mostly just serves to get you killed), and the cover system, while perfectly functional, threaten to ruin the game's action if you let it (most encounters seem to be playable entirely behind a single cover point). That said, there are a couple of wrinkles to the gameplay that I do approve of: when an enemy makes a shot that would normally kill you, you get the opportunity to shoot him before you die: if you can kill him, Max will immediately take a painkiller (if you have any) and continue the fight. In the same vein of survivability, you can now spend as much time as you want shooting from the ground after a shoot-dodge, meaning that you don't have to get up just because you need to reload. Both these systems are a little janky (getting up feels very stiff and sometimes you dont have a shot at your would-be killer, leaving you frustrated in bullet-time for ~10 seconds before giving you a game over), but it's a step in the right direction: these are things that are unique and I can see definitely improving the established formula. The game also has very unusual pacing, alternating very frequently between gameplay and cutscene. You will often get a few minutes of gameplay followed by a couple minutes of cutscene, repeated throughout the level. Its frustrating never really being able to settle in to the mechanics: I'd much rather have longer stretches of both gameplay and cinema. Despite all this, I can't say that Its a bad game: it has a decent gritty action-movie plot, some spectacular action sequences (a scene in an office building with mostly destructible environments is pretty choice), and a distinct visual style that I actually like (except for the words popping up on screen, which are mostly pointless). One thing I can say is that Rockstar have gone to great lengths to make Max Payne their own, and they have certainly succeeded in differentiating it from its predecessors.
Shooter/Third-Person 3D Shooter