The DigestVideo

Games Of May 2012: Max Payne 3

At least we can agree on the donuts.

By John Teti • June 11, 2012

In this month’s edition of The Digest, Drew Toal joins me as we discuss the two juggernaut releases of May—Max Payne 3 and Diablo III—as well as a bit of a wild card, the PlayStation 3 downloadable game Datura. Drew is a freelance writer based in Brooklyn, and of course you know him as part of the Gameological team.

If I ever had an addiction to shooters, I think that Max Payne 3 would have cured me of it. But I never really had such an addiction, and my Max Payne 3 experience felt that much duller as a result. Drew, on the other hand, finds a lot to like in the game. Of course, how much does his Method acting technique—or maybe it’s “Method playing”—have to do with that? Drew took his game criticism seriously, getting into character with plenty of booze before he fired up the Xbox for this one.

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60 Responses to “Games Of May 2012: Max Payne 3

  1. obiwanchernobi says:

    That was some lazy hipster mocking at the beginning John. Lets all collectively decide that we’re over hating hipsters. Okay? 

    There we go, all better. 

    But aside from that I think I agree with John’s assessment of Max Payne. How exciting can slow-mo bullet parties really be anymore? 

    Though I definitely might try playing more games drunk now.

    • HobbesMkii says:

      Yeah, I don’t like to mock hipsters now that everybody does it, either. I’m into mocking a different subculture now…you’ve probably never heard of them.

      • obiwanchernobi says:

        Oh shit, will you tell me what it is? I was just going out on a limb there.

        Kinda got ahead of myself…ahem…

        But seriously I really think I’ve met more people that hate hipsters than actual hipsters. Almost like hipster haters are the new…hipsters? I think I feel sick.

    • John Teti says:

      Ha, no hate here. I loved Drew’s outfit. I mean, I think you can take one look at my thick plastic-rimmed glasses and see that I’m in no position to be hating on a hipster look.

      • obiwanchernobi says:

        No offense John. I used you like a cheap whore just to make a point. Gotta get my comment read after all.

        How does it feel?

      • HobbesMkii says:

        If April Digest John ever does a digest with June Digest Drew, I believe the entire Gameological Society will go colorblind from jacket overload.

        • caspiancomic says:

           The first thought I had when this video fired up was “Did John lend Drew his amazing jacket!?”

          My second thought was “I really want a madras jacket right now.”

        • Limeade Youth says:

          My first thought was, “I wish he’d get a suit jacket that fit” followed by “I wonder if he has shorts to match…”

      • Girard says:

         I just figured that this Digest was set at a dinner party at Pete Campbell’s house.

      • The_Misanthrope says:

         But he was wearing a Phil Collins tour t-shirt!  I feel like he was–pardon the sad cliche–“asking for it”.  You don’t wander into a hospital with a surgeon’s overcoat and insist that you’re not a doctor and you just threw on “whatever was still clean”.

        I should also note that he admitted to drunk game criticism.  I feel that’s like, what, page one of the game reviewer’s code.  The More You Know!  (rainbow)

      • Mike Mariano says:

        I bought those exact same frames from Hot Topic for a George McFly costume.  I can’t hate!

    • A_N_K says:

      I play games drunk exclusively. I think I might have a problem…

    • Aymanut says:

       Hipsters are evil and must be mocked at all costs. They are the second worst people on earth after hippies. Actually, they may be worse since they are basically just rich hippies.

  2. Enkidum says:

    That was fun. Was the audio as badly out of sync for anyone else?

    • obiwanchernobi says:

      Naw, but that sucks. Happens to me all the time.

      • Enkidum says:

        Eh, I’ll live.

        I played the first Max Payne for a few levels and was awful at it, and remember thinking the script was just awful. Never had the slightest desire to touch the sequels, although I do generally think of Rockstar very positively. Although why is it that they can’t get a proper shooting mechanic down? You’d think that would be in their skill set, no?

        • lokanoth says:

          Equating Rambo with First Blood is like viewing Ghostbusters 2 and
          Ghostbusters as the same thing. And I was wondering, if I wait forever and Max Payne is
          $30-$35 is it worth buying?

        • obiwanchernobi says:

          I keep trying to rent it and its always out at the blockbuster down the street. I’m not about to drive to get this shit.

        • blue vodka lemonade says:

           I kinda love the scripts from both the original and 2, because they manage to blend bad, good, so-bad-it’s-good, intentionally bad, and so-weird-it’s-baffling together into a moderately coherent narrative. They’re pretty much the only action-shooters I’ve gotten into, and they’re varied enough (and short enough) to merit some replay.

          The third one, though, I haven’t touched. It’s sitting in my Gamefly queue, and I keep knocking it down a slot. I just can’t work up enthusiasm for it.

        • The_Misanthrope says:

          ” Although why is it that they can’t get a proper shooting mechanic down? You’d think that would be in their skill set, no?”

          Not really, no.  They’ve always been a character-and-story-centric company.  Solid, reliable controls are not their speciality; They tend to favor loosey-goosey, vague controls instead.  This extends to their driving controls, which I can make a case for:  the inprecise controls make it a little easier/quicker to do crazy evasion manuevers like the bootleg-turn or the J-turn.  It is harder to defend that stance with shooting, though.

        • SamPlays says:

          I played a ripped version of MP1 that had the soundtrack missing. Sound FX were fine but no music or narration. Despite this, or perhaps because of this, I enjoyed the first game. Rockstar’s shooting mechanics are generally subpar but Red Ded Redemption was pretty spot on. I thought GTA4 pulled it off pretty well, too.

  3. wooster84 says:

    Why get people who don’t like “shooting people in the face” games to review a “shooting people in the face game?

    • Shain Eighmey says:

      I’d say it’s worth while because not everyone has to like “shooting people in the face” games, and their opinions still count. 

      • wooster84 says:

        Their opinions only count if they’ve got something interesting to add. Nobody wants to hear my opnion on football, which I hate, because other than I don’t like it I’ve got nothing much else to say.

        • Raging Bear says:

          I don’t think criticism would be all that interesting if we only heard from people who loved everything unconditionally, unless every game was universally enjoyed by everyone who played it.

        • John Teti says:

          We don’t do the “your opinion doesn’t count” thing here. Deal with it or go away.

        • George_Liquor says:

           Or we’ll shoot you in the face.

        • SamPlays says:

          This type of argument completely undermines the point of criticism. It also highlights the fact that you can enjoy something despite criticism. Case in point: Roger Ebert dislikes Fight Club yet I love it anyways. However, I don’t necessarily disagree with Ebert’s critique of that film. There’s no reason why this dynamic should be considered inappropriate for video game reviews. I also think every review should have a drunken second opinion, you know, to cover all the necessary perspectives.

    • Girard says:

       If only there were some review structure where someone who DOES like those games could compare and contrast their opinion with someone who doesn’t, providing multiple perspectives on the same game… Alas, this is just some pie-in-the-sky dream, I fear.

      • ToddG says:

        I could never digest such a thing.

      • caspiancomic says:

        Famitsu has a panel of four judges review every game, which is a pretty good idea I think. Of course, Famitsu reviewers are all basically homogenous in their opinions, Famitsu reviews themselves are famously unreliable, there are relatively substantiated claims that Famitsu accepts monetary donations in exchange for favourable reviews, certain entrenched franchises will always get perfect reviews no matter how much the quality of the individual entries in the series has degraded…

        But getting multiple people to review one title is actually a pretty good idea I think.

        • Girard says:

           I think if they could just get, like, two or so reviewers with complementary opinions to discuss a game, maybe in a video, while eating snacks, the end result would be pretty good.

        • Fyodor Douchetoevsky says:

          I always thought a perfect 40 from Famitsu was kind of a big deal. At least until I looked at the list of games that they gave that score. Yikes.

    • lylebot says:

      Because if a person who doesn’t like that sort of game turns out to like this one, it might mean it’s pretty darn good.  And if that person likes a lot of the same games I do, then it might make me want to play this one too (even though I usually don’t like them either).

  4. The_Misanthrope says:

    So E3 was  important enough to report in great detail, yet National Donut Day, an institution since 1938 (Wikipedia wouldn’t lie to me!), gets no mention until after the fact.  Get your priorities straight, Teti!  Don’t make me form The Donutological Society!  I’ll do it!

    • Merve says:

      I don’t think I’ve had a donut in over a year. My life is empty and meaningless.

      • Electric Dragon says:

        Much like the hole in the classic toroid donut. (Bad maths joke time: What’s the definition of a topologist? A mathematician who can’t tell a donut from a coffee cup.)

  5. Swadian Knight says:

    This game is jarring. I appreciate the effort Rockstar put into making the setting somewhat convincing, but they messed up some of the details pretty badly.

    The script and voice work in portuguese sounds completely alien; people say things nobody says here and in strange, disconnected ways, and it all sounds very artificial a lot of the time, making it hard to play this game with a straight face. I mean, they named a criminal faction the ‘Comando Sombra’, and that literally means ‘Shadow Command’, which sounds like a group of Bond villains. 

    It’s a rare privilege when games get brazilian portuguese subtitles and voice acting, but I’ve yet to see one that doesn’t butcher it completely. MP3 comes close to Diablo 3 in how bad it gets sometimes, and only because that game made every character sound like they’re from Rio, demons and monstrosities included.

    There’s also a lot of inconsistencies, like a level where a kid guides you through a favela while wearing a Fluminense shirt, which is not exactly a popular soccer team in São Paulo. They also made pretty much every civilian you see so hostile to Max that it sometimes felt like I was playing Resident Evil 4. And of course the fact that Max couldn’t legally be hired as private security since being brazilian and taking a specific private security course are both legal requirements for that job.

    Still, I thought it was overall a pretty decent game. I haven’t played any of the multiplayer since I’ve only played at a friend’s house, but the single player campaign just felt really average to me, and none of it really stood out. 

    • John Teti says:

      I was wondering about the language stuff. I guess I’m not too surprised. The other details are fascinating, too. Thanks for sharing, SK.

    • DadlikedThomasEdison says:

       Saying Fluminense is not popular in Sao Paulo is quite an understatement, you’d think they could at least give him a shirt from a team that comes from Sao Paulo!

      The only voice over work I remember checking out (since I haven’t actually played it) was the “novela” you can watch on TV, Amor e Damas or something like that which was freaking hilarious, a tad bit funny on the word choice but actually pretty well done (unless it was intended as 100% serious).

      Comando Sombra doesn’t sound so bad… should they have picked a color instead of using a word like shadow to make it more realistic? (Like Comando Vermelho)? To me it sounds like an effort to use a real marker (Comando) but not pick too obvious a modifier (like a color). It does sound a bit Bond like though so maybe they should’ve gone with something closer to the real ones.

      • Swadian Knight says:

         Saying Fluminense is not popular in Sao Paulo is quite an understatement, you’d think they could at least give him a shirt from a team that comes from Sao Paulo!

        It’s really weird that they didn’t, particularly when they went to the trouble of making an ersatz for Corinthians in the game world in the form of Galatians F.C.

        About the voice acting though, check out this video, (especially at about 30 seconds in for some really poorly written dialogue and then at about 1:40 for an accent I can’t identify as brazilian), and try to keep a straight face: 

        And that’s a really fair point about the Comando Sombra. It sounds weird, but real-life criminal groups here are weird – I mean, there was actually a militia in Rio that called themselves the Justice League and tagged walls with the Batman symbol, so I guess the game is not far off the track.

        • DadlikedThomasEdison says:

          Vlw, thanks for the video. The part at 30s is really poor dialog and makes me wonder if the novela I saw was also poor dialog and not intentionally over the top. Most of the stuff in the whole clip is quite good though and I’m not sure I got the same impression as you at 1min 40s.

          I will say – I pointed out in the other thread that I work in Localization – that sometimes it feels like localizations have to reach a higher standard than the original because even one or two things that stand out like that leave a poor impression, whereas in English they’re easier to overlook until they’re on the level of the voice-acting that “The Great Performances” highlights here on Gameological.

          As for Comando Sombra – yeah I think that’s it, real life names can be weird but we accept them. Trying to fake a weird real life name is difficult because it can be more readily rejected through some rationalization.

        • Swadian Knight says:

          @DadlikedThomasEdison:disqus It’s a weird thing. The in-game banter and the mooks’ dialogue is pretty much top-notch most of the time, but characters with actual significance to the story have some seriously mangled writing and acting.

          There’s a serious divide between the quality of the localization during gameplay, where it is great, and during the cutscenes, where it is often terrible. The fact that there are just so damn many cutscenes in it means I couldn’t really stay ‘in’ the game all that much – all the atmosphere and tension the game built so deftly while I played it were lost whenever I had to watch it unfold.

          I understand incorporating a second language into a game is immensely difficult (and PT-BR, a language that does not sound good when too heavily scripted, is a challenge of its own), but the fact remains that the result here was very much jarring to a native speaker. 

        • DadlikedThomasEdison says:

           Well the dialog you pointed out, I certainly agree, felt jarring – it knocked me out of the moment that felt real enough before that moment.

          Now that I’m in the industry I’m certainly curoius as to why cutscenes would be so poor compared to gameplay, but I also retain the feeling I did as a player and bilingual native speaker – that it’s just not acceptable, there have to be resources out there to make these things better. (Of course as a kid I saw myself and schoolmates as examples of how readily available that resource might be and wasn’t being tapped in to – now I actually am one of those resources after all, not involved with MP mind you).

          Anyways, I think I’m just nitpicking at this point but my objective wasn’t to say that it’s hard to localize, rather it was to say that if by some objective standard English and Portuguese were equally good and happened to have the same flaws, whichever one of those two was the localized versions would be rated more poorly due to any number of factors including a sort of gamer privilege that exists in non-English speaking countries among players who grew up with games in English.

          It fascinates me because I consider myself as bilingual as you can get (and have some background in linguistics) and I can point to cases where people actually misunderstand the English but find it cooler than a Portuguese translation that is correct or arguably even better. More recently though, showing people games that I now play in Portuguese, I’ve seen the opposite effect too – English speakers going “oh so-and-so’s voice is much cooler in your language!”.

          In other words you can’t eliminate some of that jarring effect that people who are capable of handling both languages will face. There is an assumption of “coolness” with English because that’s the language in which these worlds have evolved, but it’s demonstrable that other languages can “feel” just as cool to other people who don’t have that bias…

          This has been much more of a ramble than I intended so I’ll let it sit here and find out if it made sense to anyone and if it did or didn’t I’ll try to reply in a more focused way.

  6. Captain_Internet says:

    It’s worth pointing out that Diablo 3 *does* include shooting people in the face if you play as Demon Hunter, Witch Doctor or to some extent Wizard…

    …and that game is just as boring!

  7. Mookalakai says:

    John Teti kind of always sounds like he’s doing a PSA from 1975 when he speaks. It adds a nice folksy charm to the videos. But to counteract that warm, folksiness, I loved Max Payne 3 because I have an endless appetite for slow-motion face-shooting.

  8. Limeade Youth says:

    Assuming you film these on the first Friday of the month, I’d just like to point out that July 6th is Republican Day and I’m looking forward to enjoying the enjoyment of Elephant ears!

    If, on the other hand, you just film on the first of the month, then you have Canada Day to honor. I’m guessing you can find poutine somewhere in the NY; that, or they’ve got plenty of Tim Hortons in the area.

  9. goawayinternet says:

    I too am tired of shooting people in the face.  I’m even more tired of games that think they can be movies.  Cutscenes almost always compare terribly to scenes from even mediocre films. Games are good at telling a story a certain way, and it’s not the movie-way.

  10. TelephoneToughGuy says:

    Bit late to the conversation, but I have fond memories of playing L.A. Noire drunk.  Running around into walls and desks and furniture and pounding ‘X’ when the controller started vibrating.  It also kind of fit with the main character – Cole Phelps, right? Jesus – being a dick to everyone he came into contact with.