Max Payne 3

Game review by
Marc Saltzman, Common Sense Media
Max Payne 3 Game Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Gritty action game overflows with gore, sex, and profanity.

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 13 reviews

Kids say

age 15+
Based on 17 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Educational Value

While elements of May Payne 3 focus on understanding power structures and problem-solving, we don't recommend it for learning because of its graphic violence.

Positive Messages

There isn't much of a positive message in this game because it's loaded with violence, blood and gore, sexual imagery, drugs and alcohol, and strong profanity. That said, the story is partially about redemption, where the protagonist Max needs to be saved.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Max isn't a good role model as he uses gratuitous violence, is a heavy drinker, and swears a lot. But you feel sorry for this anti-hero, of sorts, because of his miserable life. For example, his wife and newborn were murdered in the past, in connection to a case he worked on while with the NYPD, which explains his depression, guilt, and anger.

Ease of Play

The game should feel comfortable for those who've played previous Max Payne games, but might require some practice by newcomers to pull off his acrobatic moves and combat skills at the same time. Overall, however, it's pretty intuitive for consoles (the PC version wasn't played for this review).


The game is extremely violent, with plenty of gunplay, slow-motion effects (one of the first video game series to employ "bullet time"), and blood that spurts out of fallen enemies. Some cut-scene sequences show dismemberment following explosions. Max can also kill innocent people caught in the line of fire -- without any consequence for his actions.


The game has some partial nudity and sexual imagery, mostly in a scene where Max enters a strip club with pole dancers. In the background, however, you'll also see patrons with strippers (or perhaps prostitutes) on their lap or men pressed up against half-dressed women.


Very strong profanity can be heard in the dialogue sequences. This includes the words, "f--k," "c--t," "s--t" and "c--ksucker." There are also strong, inappropriate slang words that refer to someone's race, including "spic," and "n-gga."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

The game contains a lot of imagery and references to drugs, drinking, and smoking. Max can get drunk and his vision blurs. There is cocaine seen on the table. And characters snort drugs, too -- but not Max, the protagonist.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know Max Payne 3 is most definitely a game not for kids to play, see, or hear. It contains a lot of brutal violence, blood, and gore (including the killing of innocent bystanders, without consequences). It deals with serious issues including depression, alcoholism, and loss. There is sexual imagery and partial nudity; strong profanity can be heard throughout the entire game, including racist comments; and drugs are seen and used in the game. Take heed to the "Mature" warning. 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byAdzoWilson July 7, 2020

Suitability of Max Payne 3 (2012)

Max Payne 3 is indisputably one of my son's favorite games. He talks about it constantly and in a positive manner. I bought the game for him when he was 13... Continue reading
Adult Written byMike_kelly June 9, 2019
A mature teen would have a very good time playing this. Since there is nudity and lots of cussing, it is not appropriate for younger audiences.
Teen, 16 years old Written byJock0 September 27, 2018

One of the most underrated games

Game has a lot of graphic violence, strong language, nudity, drugs and alcohol and more, but the main problem here is violence, the game is great third person s... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byColton W. August 7, 2017

Fun But Mature

It's an awesome game. You can dodge bullets, and time slows down, so you can actually see bullets flying past you. It's a very gory game. When Max ki... Continue reading

What's it about?

Rockstar Games' gritty MAX PAYNE 3 picks up eight years after the events in Max Payne 2. For the uninitiated, Max is a former NYPD detective whose wife and daughter were murdered in connection with a case, so he infiltrated the mob and killed off criminals outside of the law. In Max Payne 3, Max has left New York City for São Paulo, where Payne is working in the private security sector for a wealthy local family. But when his client's wife gets kidnapped, Max makes his way into the seedy underbelly of the metropolis and finds himself in the middle of deadly gang wars. As with past games, this is a third-person shooter with plenty of weapons and high-quality cinematics -- including slow-motion "bullet time" for dramatic moves and kills. The game also includes a multiplayer option for the first time, and other modes.

Is it any good?

Yes, the game is good -- but Max Payne 3 is not recommended for players under 17 years of age for its mature themes and graphic imagery and language. The lengthy single-player campaign -- penned by Dan Houser of Grand Theft Auto fame -- is very well written, has memorable characters and locations, and intense action that requires you to shoot, take cover, and think your way out of situations, too. Max Payne 3 also offers a thrilling multiplayer experience for all three versions of the game, as well as additional modes (like Score Attack and New York Minute) that extend the gameplay further. There is also downloadable content coming soon, too. While not for kids, tweens, or teens, this gritty "film noir"-like game is highly entertaining, beautifully designed, and delivers a lot of bang for the buck.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about whether this game would be just as much fun without all the mature themes, imagery, and dialogue. Could the game be dialed back to, say, a "Teen" rating instead of "Mature" and be just as entertaining?

  • Families can also talk about the impact of media violence.

Game details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love action and adventure in their games

Themes & Topics

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