Review Summary: Rockstar really know good music.
Game soundtracks have come along way, they’ve evolved just as quickly as the industry has. Big shot names like Hans Zimmer and Harry Gregson-Williams have had their take on game scores and it’s proof that the industry is really going for the Hollywood touch. Max Payne is a game that doesn’t hide its film noir, martial arts or Matrix style influences. If there was ever a game that needed the “Hollywood” sountrack it’s Max Payne.
Kartsy hatakka & Kimmo Kajasto did a truly stella job of making a gritty, atmospheric soundtrack that really complemented the mood for the first two Max Payne games. It really gave you that emotional connection with Max, but also gave you an adrenaline boost when it was needed, and to say they left a very large shoe to fill would be an understatement.
Max Payne 3 takes everything fans know (and love) about the first two games and flip it on its head; gone are the dark, cold rainy/snowy nights and trench coats. In with bright, hot sun and tropical t-shirts. The direction Rockstar were going with Max Payne 3 required a drastic change in composition, and they found it in LA Noise Rock band “Health”.
What Max Payne requires more than anything else is a dark score that really brings the player in on Max’s pains and emotions, and not only do Health deliver on this count, but actually set new standards. 27 tracks of harrowing, moody and dramatic synths, backed with pounding drums. Songs that have guitars multi-layered with effects that really pull on the heart strings. “Torture” really showcases a thick and depressing mood that drags you in.
It isn’t just the depressing side they know how to pull off either, the album is varied in alot of different styles. They kill the 80’s vibe with songs like “Max:Panama” and “Tears”. The epic feel of “Future” gets the adrenaline pumping when you’re gunning people down. There is even fun upbeat songs like “Severin” which has some fist-pumpingly fast drums while the guitar shreds along.
If you wanted to nitpick there is a couple of tracks that drag on a little bit or become a little repetative, but given the origins and purpose of a game soundtrack, it is to be expected.
It takes alot for a soundtrack to truly steal the show, and I haven’t come across a soundtrack to do that since Michael McCann’s Deus Ex: Human Revolution soundtrack, that actually stole the limelight (which is saying something because it is a superb game to play). Health also managed to stear clear of how most modern contemporaries go about making a game score. It’s just a thoroughly enjoyable experience that is amazing to hear while the game tells its story, but it doesn’t take anything away from the album if it’s listened to seperately from the game.