Score Reviews‎ > ‎

Max Payne 3 by HEALTH (Review)

posted Jan 25, 2013, 7:02 AM by Kaya Savas

This is a late score review, but I wanted to touch upon what HEALTH did for Max Payne 3 this past summer as it is indeed a fantastic video game score. The band HEALTH is made up of Dick Johnson, Jake Duzsik, John Famigliett, Jupiter Keyes and Logan Burgett. Rockstar is known for picking rather unknown but absolutely perfect composers for their projects as is evident from their past games. This is the case for Max Payne 3. In any other circumstance I’d probably scoff at the concept of a rock band composing a score, but after playing through the game I can solidly say it was one of if not my favorite aspect of the experience.

Max Payne 3 is a gritty and violent game with a storyline that has all the best elements of the film noir genre. The characters are solid, the voice acting terrific, and the gameplay is absorbing and intense. The soundscape is a fresh and harsh addition to this franchise. Original composers Kärtsy Hatakka and Kimmo Kajasto crafted a fantastic theme and terrific scores for the first two games; a theme that HEALTH brilliantly builds off of. The game definitely takes inspiration from Tony Scott’s films such as Man On Fire and Domino, not only the storyline but the visual aesthetic. The score matches the intensity of the high contrast colors of Brazil where the majority of the game takes place as well as the frenetic cutting of the action. Percussion is the big star here as it creates a constant sense of urgency and at times I found my heart racing due to how intense the music was during the gameplay. On it’s own the score does have the looping characteristics of a video game score, but still retains much of its effect. The synth and electronic components are masterfully layered to craft an unforgettable soundscape. The score is also a direct pathway into the inner turmoil of Max Payne himself, and I love it when character bleeds through the score. The score is intense, captivating, loud and unapologetically abrasive. All the while still retaining the feel of film noir.

Max Payne 3 continues Rockstar’s shining musical image as HEALTH joins a fantastic list of composers for the label. Max Payne 3’s score is a rare example of a rock band shining in a new application of the music medium. HEALTH was able to craft a memorable score with many shining qualities all the while retaining their own signature style. This is one worth seeking out.