Archive for March, 2014

Much belated Max Payne 3 sort-of review

March 16, 2014

I had written up several pages of notes to do a joint review on another site right after the game was released. However, the review never happened on the other end. Since it now appears certain the game will not be reviewed on the other site, I feel fine with at least publishing my notes.

So, here are the things I wrote down while Playing Max Payne 3 through twice. This is how I review, by the way. I write stuff down as a series of scribbles and bullet points — sometimes with lots of exclamation points and capital letters and the occasional cuss word. Then I later turn them into an orderly review. However, in this case, I am just going to take my fuss set of handwritten reviewer notes and transcribe them. I thought readers might get a kick out seeing what struck me in the game as I played it. The notes are more or less in order as I played through the game. Of course, for Max Payne 3, maybe a review done as a series of bullet points is appropriate. This is a game about bullets!

For background, I played the first two games through several times. Late Goodbye is still my favorite end credits song, too.

So, here goes: Max Payne 3 review notes (with the barest minimum of editing)

Nice intro: Use of color and distortion, merges, and flashbacks. Some of the details are amazing, like Max’ Hawaiian shirt. Borrows from Fistful of Dollars & ronin samurai flicks.

Code: “I can still do a job.” Still finishes job even when client has died. Does know right from wrong, has a sense of honor.

NO GRAPHIC NOVEL STUFF. Words from dialog like “army” and “mess and “surprise” and “guests” flash on screen in cut-scenes for no apparent reason. Words from dialog [splash] on screen, like “People shooting at me.”

Lots of shots of Max getting drunk. Language is like a Quentin Tarantino movie.  Some good lines. My favorite: “Scotch & pills. What could go wrong?”

Rich guy who has two hired guns against thousands of enemies — including after a kidnap attempt and mass slaughter. Runs through doors into rooms full of enemies.

Great fire set-piece, but no shoot dodge and you can get killed by a pea-shooter. Walked like a zombie.

Street party stuff [in slum level] great. [But then, it is] kill everyone you meet — 99% of slum dwellers are in gangs. Interact with the world with firearms.

WTF golden guns? Do I use them? Do they benefit me? Are they a waste of time?

Don’t use stim-packs at full health.

Clipping issues; getting shot through walls. One or two lockups. Quit.

Office shootout: Clear room, cut-scene, half-dozen new enemies drop in — and you have almost no ammo! They cut you to ribbons because you start behind minimal cover. You can die over and over again and it is luck if you survive. Oh, and they have grenades — and the game locks up on reloads.

Classic bad shooter stuff: Scripted to have Max leave cover and then alert enemies he is there. Dead 80% of the time in a second. Find cover and get shot THROUGH it. Cover system screw-ups, like shooting at sky.

[Me yelling at screen:] Don’t talk, shoot!

A player dying in a 1/4 second isn’t fair or fun, no matter the difficulty level. Making the player do STUPID THINGS like walk into open with enemies in sight is cheating.

Gates and doors mysteriously lock behind you to prevent backtracking or retreat.

Death cam is boring.

A disguise is like wearing different clothes. Dude, shave the beard. Why shave his head?

Let’s invade a fortress! Let me bring a pea-shooter.

Max doesn’t grab body armor, [though its lying] everywhere.Kevlar [for Max is] his extra-starched shirt that stops bullets.

Let me skip death animations! Dreaded reloads. Shoot the same bullet fodder again! No!

Boss fight. He can kill you in a hit. Boss fights suck. A lot. One mini-boss fight he repeatedly shoots you through cover. He also recovers so fast you die after a [bullet time] leap.

AI that isn’t. Guys ‘cover’ in plain sight. Pop up on regular intervals. Run up to die. Stand with a single body part exposed until you kill them. No survival instinct. Bullet fodder. Shot a guy a dozen times in the ass from two feet away. Some enemies soak up lead like a vacuum cleaner. 30 rounds into one guy — doesn’t even quiver. Take 50 shots to the chest; two to the head!

Useless “partners”. Alyx Vance [Half-Life 2] was 10 years ago! Kill someone!

[Feels like] Serious Sam.”Serious Payne!”

Duke Nukem? “Max Nukem”.

Enemies all seem same. Special forces guy with knowledge of tactics? [No.]

Joyless, repetitive slog. Max Payne is stupid! Can hardly interact with anything.

[Needs] 1/2 the enemies, but smarter. F.E.A.R. did it better. This was like Serious Sam.

Go into Bullet Time, die anyway. Luck. Arbitrary.

Pistols are NOT more accurate than laser-sighted rifles.

Got shot through bullet-proof wall. Leap and hit either side of a door. Die. Repeat.

No sense of progression, of getting stronger. You keep losing your best guns. Get a great gun and be prepared to lose it. Or, for the level to end. [Still] guns didn’t really seem to matter. Whatever had the most ammo was fine. A couple of sniper rifles [temporary].

Fight 100 guys, then get disarmed.

Checkpoint saves suck! Gawd, I hate checkpoint saves!

[My apparently] Kevlar luggage cart stopped 1,000 rounds.

Shot through walls!

Might be a better game on second play-through. Little/no feedback on boss fights.

Seems to be the toughest [programmer] decision was whether to have five [bad] guys or ten at the next turn.

Stats: Shot 62,546 bullets and killed 4,298 people.

Anyhow, those are my notes. While I ended up liking the game as a shoot-fest, I thought it the weakest of the three. Dynamite voice acting, some great cynical lines, and much of it graphically amazing, but it was an arcade shooter trying to act like an artsy collaboration between Quentin Tarantino and John Woo.

I would have given it 70 in a full review.


Beware the Cryptolocker virus. It is real and it can totally hose your data.

March 9, 2014

I got a laptop in today to try to repair. Word files had suddenly stopped being able to be read by Office 2007. It was bizarre. After messing with it a while I found out from the owner that he had a virus warning flash the day before. He remembered the word “locker” being on the screen.

It turned out that it was Cryptolocker, a virus that encrypts your data file with nearly impossible to break encryption.He had the symptoms and I even found the registry key for Cryptolocker _0388.

The victim is offered a chance to pay a ransom (typically about $300) in bitcoins or other currencies. If you don’t pay by the deadline, you never get to open your data again. It has infected hundreds of thousands of users and a notable percentage of victims pay up. It generates a king’s ransom for the criminals that do the infecting

In his case, it appears Microsoft’s malicious software removal tool scraped out the virus, but the damage is done. The files are encrypted and it even got his thumb drive backup versions. This virus can hunt across mapped drives.

Also, since the virus is gone, he can’t even pay the ransom to get back his precious data.

The rig had apparently never had Windows XP updated and the antivirus had expired. Sadly, there is nothing I can do. The owner is going to try a data recovery professional, but I am afraid they will advise him the same.

Seriously folks, don’t use XP on business systems anymore due to the age and lack of support. Keep your software fully patched! And please, never, EVER operate a machine without a reputable Internet Security program in place.