Max Payne 3 remains the best, most tightly constructed, powerful game that Rockstar has ever made. Every level is designed to create a perfect mix of action and ardor, as you struggle through bloody, brutal gunfights that are simultaneously graceful and clumsy. Visually, nothing in Max Payne 3 is left to chance – from Max’s outfits to the always imaginative level settings, this a game where every detail has been pored over. It also has the greatest videogame soundtrack of all time, courtesy of Health. GTA 5, Red Dead Redemption 2, San Andreas – these are all great. But if you want the best action-adventure game of all time, Max Payne 3 is now 70% off in the current Steam sale.
Released in 2012, Max Payne 3 was perhaps an unusual project for Rockstar, which, at that point, had largely worked on open-world crime games like GTA 4 and Red Dead Redemption, while also publishing long-form detective sim LA Noire. A comparatively short, entirely linear shooter, Max Payne 3 was also a departure from the beloved Remedy series that began back in 2001. Less funny, less abstract, and much slower and more violent, Max Payne 3 – with its deliberately clunky controls and rollercoaster pacing – was wildly different to the slow-mo shooter sequel that we were perhaps expecting.
Nevertheless, there is no other game like Max Payne 3. Vicious, dramatic, and totally sensory, it successfully walks an almost impossible line between tight, developer-led direction and choreography, and player-driven action. James McCaffrey is at his best as the eponymous, quip-slinging ex-cop, and the entire game zips from one exceptional set piece to another, in the process becoming a blood-soaked treatise on failure, guilt, and obsolescence.
If you want a lean, thrilling action game, with an amazing soundtrack and some great writing, Max Payne 3 is $5.99 / £5.39 on Steam right now, down 70% from $19.99 / £17.99. Especially while we’re waiting on the GTA 6 release date, and to see where Rockstar takes gaming next, this is a must-play. Get it here.