Preview: Max Payne 3 Multiplayer (X360, PS3, PC)

We got got called over for another round of Max Payne 3 with Rockstar Games. They rustled more of us this time and soon it was clear what we were here for: Multiplayer.

An elaborate setup of Xbox consoles sat around the same cloaked room, a casual Max Payne bobbing around on all six screens. Our representative from Rockstar Games then walked us through three key modes, namely Team Deathmatch, Payne Killer and Gang Wars.

Team Deathmatch

Similar to the modes of the same name seen in earlier Rockstar Games games, Team Deathmatch pits player against player whose only objectives are shoot or be shot. The game dropped us in the middle of a Sao Paulo bus depot, a dilapidated little place, though that is hardly the thing you are supposed to notice (it still has the same amount of prestine detail as in the single-player game, though, like smashing through windows).

This being Team Deathmatch, the six of us are split into two teams, each colour coded for obvious reasons. And armed with AK-47s in hand, things got started pretty quickly. Killing your opponents help to build the score within the allotted time.

One thing I noticed during gameplay is the fact that while gunning down your opponents may seem like a job well done, the player is actually not dead until you make sure he no longer moves. It is only then when the score is successfully tabulated, because a player near death can still handle himself very weil with a gun.

The death screen splashes in a bit of the motion comic feel seen in single-player. Split into who shot you, your mangled corpse and an infographic showing where your injuries are. Players can then trigger a respawn after a cool-down time.

Max Payne 3 staples are also included in TDM, as well as the other modes that will be highlighted in this article, like shootdodging, painkillers and heck, yes, Bullet Time.

Bullet Time, multiplayer style

The way Bullet Time works on multiplayer is actually as straightforward as it is frustrating for the other players. Triggering the slow-down allows the player to pump more bullets into their opponent and said opponent, who is caught within the player’s line of sight, will suffer a temporal slow-down, causing sluggish bullet-fire rates and reaction time. Other players passing by not involved in the gunfight will also get slow down if they enter the line of sight of either the aforementioned player or the opponent.

There are a few ways Bullet Time can fail, though. One, when your opponent dives for cover and breaks your line of sight with him, and two, when your adrenaline meter runs dry. Adrenaline is gained from successfully killing enemies and from looting corpses. Looting may also reward the player with extra ammo, painkillers and cash, but it will leave them completely vulnerable for at least 3 seconds during the looting process.

Payne Killer

We were then swept into a shanty town (Favela) for Payne Killer, essentially a king-of-the-hill type game where players take turns to become either Max Payne or Passos, whom you may recall from the other article as Max’s partner-friend. The remaining four players act as armed baddies determined to take either character down.

Payne Killer keeps things full of action by switching the players between good or bad. Players are split into their usual teams at first, but things immediately change when someone draws first blood. The first player who takes down an opposing player becomes Max Payne, who dual-wields SMGs to devastating effect and the first victim, Passos, who has a mighty gun of his own. Both characters come with bullet time, adrenaline and painkillers for a fighting chance against the other no-name baddies.

Said baddies, regardless of team, are all out to deal damage or kill either Max or Passos, and doing so will award the player a bonus, as well as the chance to take on the role as Max or Passos, resurrected.

Gang Wars

Gang Wars in Max Payne 3 is more varied than most of Rockstar Games’ online multiplayer modes I’ve seen. It keeps the two teams of gang members on their toes with its five randomised events changed by the events of the previous event.

Events range from one team preventing the other from bombing one of two locations to the competitive delivering of bags of product to point X. The game then wraps up with a typical closer that grabs the accumulated points based on the performance of both teams from the previous events to give them an edge in the last event.

Another key aspect of certain gameplay modes are Vendettas. Vendettas build on the human response when in competitive gameplay and can be triggered when one significant player has killed you more times before then you managed to do him in. Vendettas are essentially a black mark you stick on that player so you can hunt him or her down to avenge your death from your past spawn.

Successfully gunning down said player will earn the avenger more XP, but if said player survives the Vendetta and takes down the avenger instead, that player gets the XP and the Vendetta is broken.

Item Customisation and Loadout
Yet another feature of online multiplayer is the ability to pick out the weapons and projectiles and Bursts (covered later) you want to carry with you to multiplayer events. Player can hold one dual-handed weapon (shotguns, rifles) two single-handed weapons (SMGs, pistols), projectiles and five slots for items such as helmets, bulletproof vests and balaclavas. Held weapons also come with attachments like silencers and sights.

Of course, you can’t carry it all and be a one man army. Your loadout has a weight limit, and carrying more items on your person will make you less agile. So finding a perfect balance between the two help adds to the replay value of the multiplayer experience. Weapons and items are progressively unlocked as the player climbs the 50 ranks with the XP they obtain for taking out enemies and bringing glory to their team. Players can also keep five custom loadouts to select based on what they are about to face.

Bullet Time is not the only special ability that players can default to. Other special abilities that can be assigned to consume adrenaline, known as Bursts, can be added to your loadout. All bursts, including Bullet Time, come in three more powerful levels, accessed when the player accumulates enough adrenaline.

Bursts types include:

Big Dog: Health boost affecting the user and nearby teammates
Intuition: Allows the player or team to see enemy positions
Trigger Happy: Enhances user with armour-piercing ammo and weaponry
Sneaky: You appear as friendly to the enemy team
Paranoia: Enemies see their teammates as hostile
Weapon Dealer: Holds off ammo consumption for a duration
Weapon Double Dealer: Drops all special attachments on enemy weapons

Sure, the three modes is not the absolute final Max Payne 3 offering for online multiplayer, but that was really enough to keep us rattling with excitement until the game comes out next week. Bring your friends!

Max Payne 3 will be arriving on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 consoles on May 18th and on Windows PCs on June 1st. Check out our single-player preview here. Don’t forget to enter our Bullet Time photo contest to win Max Payne 3 T-shirts and an exclusive 10-inch Max Payne statuette!