Replaying Max Payne 3 on the PC after trudging through it on consoles is a surreal experience. Those same hallways and rooms that had me wondering what kind of monster designed these accursed thumbsticks went by in a breeze of bullets during bulletdodges in bullet time. On the Xbox, controlling Max was like controlling a drunk friend into his taxi cab against his will. On the PC, Max moves like a leaf on the wind, his shots fluttering every which way you can move to. Regardless, playing on PC made me notice something I never really noticed before.
Max Payne 3 has the best locational damage out of any shooter yet.
It wasn’t completely unknown to us that Max Payne 3 allowed for more areas to be registered than the average game. In our weekly TAG installment, Zach spoke about shooting an armored enemy in the neck to take him down quickly and I had experienced similar situations with enemies clutching the exact area they had been penetrated. The game is running off of NaturalMotion’s famous Euphoria engine, which results in some very realistic animations and reactions.
The true extent of Max Payne 3′s locational damage was unknown to me until I landed some fortunate shots right into an armored, late-game enemy’s armpit and I watched him go down as fast as the regular unarmored thugs from the beginning of the game. Some further testing, which may or may not have consisted of gleefully pumping of bullets into people, showed that armor in Max Payne 3 actually protects the area it covers visually and nowhere else. You can shoot the knees, the forearms, the shins, the hip, the shoulder, the neck, and everywhere else that’s missing some form of protection and you will do the full damage.
Or, in other words, Max Payne 3 is the only game where you can shoot someone in the gooch and have it mean something outside of some childish titillation that you placed a bullet there. Now you get that and the knowledge that you are an efficient killing machine that may or may not have a thing for gooches.
So, more than any other game out there, accuracy is a big deal in Max Payne 3. It is literally the difference between a shot that kills and a shot that does some damage. It’s especially crucial since half the game involves fighting enemies decked out in body armor while Max, ever the smart one, wears absolutely none. The nice thing about this is that even the spongiest of bullet sponges can be glass cannons, which lends to the realism that Rockstar has tried to reach for in the game.
I’m honestly surprised that Rockstar has not touted this part of the gameplay in any of its promo videos or trailers. They harped on everything from carrying a gun in an off-hand to mentioning lying down and shooting everywhere they could, even though it wasn’t even a new feature, but they neglected to mention that Max Payne 3 has the most realistic locational damage in a shooter yet. On a technological level, I’m inclined to believe it’s on the account of the Euphoria engine with its detailed model reactions and materials physics. It would not be out of the question for a developer to plop some armor onto a model and then tell the engine that the armor adds a resistance bonus while the base player model is unbiased towards supersonic chunks of lead.
I hope more shooters incorporate this kind of locational damage or, at the very least, the Euphoria engine. It solves the irritating problem of bulletsponge enemies and gives the player a reward for being precise with their shots. And it creates the ability to shoot someone in the gooch. That’s always a good idea.