I will admit I was a little apprehensive about how the noir feel of the game would work with the new setting. Not saying that noir is restricted to settings like East Coast, USA, but I always associate Brazil with colorful, vivacious, and fast-paced. Things I don’t associate with noir (aside from fast-paced). However, as a gaming company, I think that Rockstar is consistent if nothing else and dared to hope that they wouldn’t disappoint.
So far, I like it. Nay, I love it. Starting with the opening where Max is trying to drink his torments away, giving cryptic, slightly crazed rambling clues about his life (which I hope will be expounded on as the games goes on for new players), I was hooked. This opening soliloquy establishes what fans of the series know--Max is continuing his downward trend.
Brazil is just as vibrant as I imagined it would be in the game, which is different for the series, but at the same time, it really emphasizes how out of his element Max really is. His whole demeanor clashes with the fun, ritzy, shallow lifestyle that he’s being exposed to, and Max being Max is quick to point out how much he hates it. Rockstar has, in my opinion, successfully fused the gritty, dirty elements of the first two games with this new vibrant setting. But don’t take that to mean that you don’t see some old locations.
Bullet time returned, of course, and we got something new called Bullet Cam, which slows down the last kill, allowing players to fire even more shots into a baddie for a dramatic finish. Then, there’s another new element called Last Man Standing. I’m not sure how I feel about Last Man Standing, yet, which forces a dying Max into bullet time to take out the threat. Successfully killing the other guy uses one painkiller automatically and restores a little bit of Max’s health. On one hand, I like the concept. On the other, I feel like that may be a painkiller wasted. I’ll see as I progress further.
I am enjoying this journey. There was one scene in the very beginning that had my heart pounding from excitement. And for me, some of the joy in this series has always been the story. Max's story is tragic and doesn't seem to give players much hope, but you want to know what happens next despite all that. Now some may think there's too much commentary going on with Max reminding you every three seconds how dire a situation is, but I liked that they've revamped an old style with some fresh elements.