GAMING: Max Payne 3
I've never been a big fan of shooters; one of an admitted minority because shooters are big, big business in the gaming world.
GAME: MAX PAYNE 3
AGE RESTRICTION: 18
I don't dislike the genre because I'm squeamish about all the killing or because I'm a poor (game-world) shot, but because, after a couple of hours, they generally bore me enough to cast aside and never bother with again. Most shooters are as complex and satisfying as a fairground attraction: step up, point a weapon at something and fire. To justify a price-tag of several hundred rands, though, a puerile plot and some risible dialogue are thrown in.
This equates to the R10 toy you can win for spending R100 to hit all the targets.
There are exceptions to most rules, though, and Max Payne 3 is a narrated third-person shooter that shows how the game should be made and played.
It has fantastic graphics, glitch-free action and levels of skill and difficulty that allow you to effectively choose how you want to play.
As the title suggests, this is the third of the Max Payne series and our hero is looking distinctly the worse for wear. (Nine years have passed in my time - Max seems to age in dog years.) He's a tatty former New York detective, still drowning his sorrows after the murder of his wife and children.
The storyline is not as elaborate as in some of publishers Rockstar's other titles, but the dialogue and humour is of the expected quality. It's a shooter with style.
As most of your time is spent killing the bad guys (or anyone Max doesn't like - we're not talking the high moral ground here), "bullet-time" - a slow-motion feature allowing you/Max more time to aim and fire - is a very handy thing to have. It's similar to "dead-eye" in Red Dead Redemption and, like everything else in this third iteration, is a thoughtfully worked out upgrade on what was available in the second Max Payne.
As an added bonus, Rockstar will allow you to take some of the characters through to the upcoming Grand Theft Auto 5. I can't wait.
Max Payne 3 is down and dirty (you can see all of that in the exquisite graphics), and the narrative is crisp and funny. All the bells and whistles work and the plot keeps your attention - unbelievably rare for a shooter.
It is very violent and the dialogue is sometimes profane - which means parents might shy away from Max Payne 3 and buy younger gamers something with a lower age restriction. That would be a pity.