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updated 5/21/2012 12:22:31 PM ET 2012-05-21T16:22:31

Years ago, a gritty cop by the name of Max Payne changed the face of video games, with his use of “bullet time,” a slow-motion ability that enabled him to target foes while taking risky dives, a gun clutched in each hand. But it’s been awhile since we’ve seen Max in action. We were wondering if he was losing his touch.

Nope. Rockstar Games returned the hardened gunman to action this week with "Max Payne 3," a stunning sequel that jams a whopping amount of action into both its single-player story and multiplayer modes. Grab as much ammunition as you can carry — you’ll need it.

The story catches up with Max, who’s still popping painkillers and drinking alcohol to bury the memory of his murdered family, as he takes up a new job watching a real estate tycoon. When a Brazilian drug-dealing gang makes off with Max's wife, he, along with his buddy Raul Passos, sets out to rescue her, getting embroiled in a story filled with surprises and spilled blood aplenty.

Max Payne’s traditional “bullet time” effect once again makes a return, and Rockstar has made it better than ever, so you can easily knock off three or four guys with one dive, and pop some painkillers to keep yourself alive for the next battle. It also features a great cover system, so you can hide behind objects and jump out to take pick someone off, using a variety of aiming types – free aim (where you can shoot at whatever you point at), soft lock (where you can switch between targets with ease) and hard lock (where you point at one guy until he’s dead, then move on to the next closest one).

Rockstar also gives "Max Payne 3" a gritty presentation. The visuals are stunning, between the various locales you run through (and destroy) while taking on gunrunners and the quirky little hallucinations that show you some of Max’s painful plight firsthand. The animations are impressive as well, especially with bullet replays, where you can plug someone multiple times until their bullet-ridden body hits the ground. (Clearly, this isn’t a game for the squeamish.)

Along with a single-player campaign that’ll take you a few hours, "Max Payne 3" also comes with a satisfying multiplayer mode in which you can take part in death matches, as well as a Gang Wars mode, taking on missions that tie in with the single player while rewarding you with additional weapons and characters.

Considering Max has been away from games for several years now, we were slightly concerned that he may have lost his violent touch. But Rockstar reaffirms that Max Payne is still a heck of a cop, and "Max Payne 3" is the proof, easily the best game in the series.

RATING: 4 / 4

© 2012 TechNewsDaily

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