Max Payne 3

Max Payne is back! He is older, wiser and more pissed off than ever. The exciting slow motion mechanics that made the series popular in 2001 are back and tweaked to perfection, giving you effortless precision as Max massacres anyone who gets in the way. I applaud Rockstar for bringing us yet another masterfully crafted storyline, breathing new life into the franchise and restoring a level of challenge that we don't see in most next generation games anymore.

The Good
- Amazing story and Dialogue
- Challenging
- Superb graphics, minus the artefacting filters
- Great controls

The Bad
- The constant filters that distract from gameplay
- Repetitive
- Slow motion diving is more of a gimmick
Exemplary Storytelling and an Unforgettable Anti Hero

The game takes place in Brazil, with some flashback treats for fans of the series that take us to the city of Hoboke, New Jersey where Max moved after quitting the NYPD. Max Payne 3 is both emotionally exhausting and thrilling. Rockstar did a fantastic job of making Max relatable and likable, despite his grogginess throughout the campaign.

Max is desperate in trying to escape the memories of his past. He gets involved in the private security sector of a wealthy family in Sao Paulo,Brazil and expectedly, things take a turn for the worse. The story escalates into a rollercoaster of shadowy conspiracies and warring factions. The pacing of the story, as well as the action, is reminiscent of 90's movies like Lethal Weapon, minus the humor. The script is brilliant. Rockstar raises the bar with the narrative once again, making each character feel and sound like a real, believable person. We hear Max's inner dialogue throughout the entire game, accentuating his inner turmoil and agony.

Dirty, Gritty, Retro

The visually striking environments are a real tease. For years, Rockstar gave us massive, open world environments to traverse and explore, but the detail packed levels of MP3 are largely linear with only a few secondary routes to your objectives. Nevertheless, the indelicate details of the Sao Paulo slums are awe-inspiring. Accompanying the gritty yet beautiful world are the meticulously rendered character models. Every bystander, every thug, every encounter feels authentic. The populated streets and alleys radiate with life and history. Everything feels lived in and realistic, thanks to an impressive graphics engine.

Unfortunately, the entire experience is marred with frustrating artefacting filters that are overdone and extremely distracting during gameplay. While a nice stylistic touch at first, it soon becomes an unbearable nuisance that begs for an off option. It is unfortunate such a small element hinders the overall experience.
The cinematics, while beautifully directed, interrupt the gameplay too often. A cut scene lies around every corner: for opening doors, walking through an alley - absolutely everything. They're designed to cover up the loading screens, but it could have been handled better.

I shot the sheriff, but then his thugs gunned me down

Max Payne 3 will kick your butt. You will run into frustration within the first few missions. Hoards of bad guys will shred you to pieces if you're not using cover strategically. The shootouts go from exhilarating to unforgiving early on, but that's what makes the game so fantastic. There is a high level of difficulty, even on the normal setting, that makes each completed mission feel like a merited victory.

The gunplay is precise, fast, and excessively violent. The last kill launches a special bullet time cinematic which lets you pump endless amounts of lead into your enemy, while pieces of flesh and blood paint the screen. The shooting feels smooth, the guns have nice weight to them, and the variety in the death animations is stupendous.

Where the gameplay falters is the dive mechanic. It feels clumsy and useless. It looks cool to dive in slow motion and pick off baddies, but considering the erratic, stampeding enemies, there's little use for it. The variety in guns is also lacking. There are handguns, SMGs, shotguns, assault rifles and the occasional sniper rifle, but in my entire playthrough, I relied on only a few effective weapons. Enemies can also toss grenades at you, but you can't throw them back. Bummer!

My biggest disappointment in the gameplay department is the repetition. What you do in the first two hours of the game is no different than the last two. Each objective consists of your typical run, cover, and shoot structure with a few sniper sections tossed in. The creative level designs and challenging enemies save the day, but those looking for innovation in their third person shooters should look elsewhere.

A Time Well Spent

You will spend between 8-10 hours with Max Payne's main story. It's definitely worth replaying for the great narrative, but the biggest surprise is the addition of an Arcade Mode. This mode is strictly for accumulating points, earning medals and climbing the scoreboard. The Arcade mode takes the story missions, tosses the cinematics, and lets you lose to gun down enemies as quickly as possible. Throw in an exciting multiplayer mode into the mix, and you have a ton of value for the money.

Max Payne 3 does nothing ground breaking to the genre, but it provides relentlessly addictive shootouts, gorgeous graphics, superior voice acting and a smartly composed narrative that gives the franchise content closure.

Final Score: 8.5/10

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Assassin's Creed 3 Editions Guide

The Assassins Creed 3 "Editions" range depending on the region. In Europe we have the "Join or Die Edition" and the "Freedom Edition". Across the pond in the US they have the "Limited Edition".

Each version of the game obviously comes with a full version of the game. This is where ALL versions having the same content stops. The US version has a Colonial flag; this is very similar to the US Flag which just wouldn't be as popular here in Europe. It is clear why it is exclusive to the US Edition then. Also each Edition comes with its own Box to contain the contents of its respective edition.

The next item of interest is the figure of Conor complete with revolving knife, tomahawk, twin guns and bow and quiver. This is in the US Collector's Edition and the Freedom Edition.

The Join or Die Edition does not have the statue of Conor, it has an Assassin's Medallion instead. Unfortunately this is not available in any of the other editions.

The Freedom and Join or Die Editions both share the same "George Washington Notebook" - featuring art and the "Sharpshooter" online content.

At the time of Assassins Creed 3 official announcement, in the US when you pre-ordered the game you received a steel case designed by comic book artist Alex Ross. These are in short supply and are extremely limited while stocks last. Most major retailers in US are have run out of these. In Europe the only way to get this Steel Case is in the Freedom Edition.

Lastly there are exclusive DLC missions with some Editions. In the US Limited Edition they get the Mayan Ruins Mission and in the Join or Die Edition there is the "Ghost of War" extra mission. The Freedom Edition has both of these missions included making it the most attractive edition for those interested in additional content.

It is clear to see that the Freedom Edition has the best of both worlds here with the best overall must have content.

Of course these various editions are not everywhere with retailers securing exclusives on particular editions in the territories that they operate in. Ubisoft also sell these editions directly via the Ubistore.

It is also expected the individual retailers may pick up additional exclusive DLC items closer to the time of launch. The official Ubisoft website has some information about the various editions also including some images of the products.

PES 2013 - The Only Video Game For Footy Fans

PES 2013 by Konami launches on PS3, XBOX 360, Wii and PC this autumn and will give FIFA 12 a run for its money this year if the online rumblings are to be believed. The PES franchise has been around for 16 years and progressed through many iterations both in title and game play style, so what makes Pro Evolution Soccer so popular?

If you live in North America, the chances are that unless you are a die-hard 'soccer' fan, this event will simply pass you by, but if you live in the rest of the world, most specifically in Europe, then as every PES fan knows, the football season starts in August, but you only get to play out your own footy fantasies come October, when the latest and greatest version of PES hits the video game shop shelves.

It all started way back in video game time, actually 1996, when Goal Storm was released on the Playstation. Since then, PES has moved through several naming conventions and the latest update will be called PES 2013. It will go head to head like it has for the past 16 years with Electronic Arts (EA) and their masterpiece - FIFA (12). There are really only these two games vying for gamers' hard cash every year and if anything that makes the competition even more fierce.

You see the two games have battled it out year on year and this year PES stands a chance of getting back to the top of the pile. It has been languishing behind for the past 5 or 6 years, due in part to complacency, but also the resurgence and downright brilliance of FIFA.

The facts of the case are this your honour;

FIFA (which stands for Federation Internationale de Football Association) as the name might suggest, is an officially endorsed football game, this means that the game comes replete with all the real player names, team names, football kits, competition names and stadia. PES has never had these rights and has had to rely on an editing mode and the ingenuity of the gamers who buy the game to recreate all of the aforementioned details, liveries and stadia. This has fostered a powerful online community purely along editing interests, but when coupled with the obvious game play advantages of PES you begin to see why the popularity of the game is still so high.

So what are these game play advantages?

Well, the trade off in the licensing situation has always been overcome by the sheer beauty of playing PES - it is a game for footy fans. The actual game play has always more closely mirrored the real game, whereas FIFA has traditionally suffered in this area. Playing PES in the first few years was always pure fun, games were high scoring, but varied, FIFA always felt staged and the ball never seemed to behave like a real football, feeling much too floaty. By comparison, PES footballs have always had a weight to them and challenges between players have felt meaty.

An analogy between the two games is to think of FIFA as being a Premier League or Champions League setup, it looks polished and has endorsements coming out of its ears, but it isn't really true football, it's a pre-packaged version of the game designed to ensnare glory hunting footy fans, the ones who shout about how great their team is despite knowing nothing about their own teams history.

Pro Evo on the other hand is jumpers for goalposts, dirty knees and eating soggy cornish pasties on a cold, wet Tuesday night away to Barnsley! The analogy might be lost on many and that to some degree proves a point, football isn't always shiny, multiple step-overs and pink Nike boots, it's about the teams outside the Premier League who still have fans that turn up for every home and away game, despite not having seen their side win anything for years. That is real football and that is what Konami have tried to encapsulate, despite being based in Japan.

To a large degree they have succeeded, but the line has been blurred between the two games in recent years. FIFA has now moved very close to matching the whole ethos of PES, some say their game play is actually better, I still disagree with that statement, but certainly with the online patches available now to PES gamers, they can sidestep the licensing issue and create photo-realistic players, teams and kits - which means the two games are very much on a collision course to meet in the middle.

Konami have cheered up their fans in previous years by securing licence rights to the England National team, two Premier League teams and various other leagues and players around Europe and the world. This has undoubtedly helped, but give me a fake named Man Red (Manchester united) and quality game play any day over the FIFA version of football. At the end of the day I buy football computer games because I like to play games that recreate the beautiful game, FIFA now does it well, but PES does it better and I'm just hoping that the next instalment of PES 2013 will again give me that option to take the mighty Derby County to European Glory!

Pro Evolution Soccer has been a source of constant fun in my life for over a decade now. I've finally decided to write some articles about my favourite football game and I hope you enjoy and can understand some of the English football terminology!

If you enjoyed this article and want to check out the website, please visit PES 2013 where I'm in the process of writing more articles about Pro Evo.