Rockstar Games has proved time and time again that when it comes to soundtracks, they know what they’re doing. From every Grand Theft Auto game to the recently featured Red Dead Redemption, Rockstar’s knack for using music to enhance gameplay, emphasize story and immerse the player only continues to get better.
For Max Payne 3, Rockstar created a deeply corrupt and dangerous world, embodied by the worst of human nature. In order to effectively convey the game’s dark themes, a stellar soundtrack was needed. In order to achieve this, Rockstar sought the musical expertise of L.A. noise-rockers HEALTH, who composed a fantastic soundtrack full of torturous melodies and enticing cues that perfectly reflects Max Payne’s frazzled, drunken and suicidal state of mind.
“Max: Kill” is a personal favorite of mine that features some fantastic percussion and a gut-wrenching melody. Perfect listening material, really, for killing dudes to in Max Payne 3. The percussion really helps drive home the tribal, almost animalistic nature of the game. Long after hearing this haunting track, it’ll stick with you and remind you of all the bad guys you killed while stylistically diving in slow-motion.
“Tears” is a really good song in its own right, and it’s placement within the game itself and alongside its ad campaign is smart. Instead of licensing some hot single from the radio that we could all role our eyes to, Rockstar chose to have something original done by a recording artist. Featured as a single on iTunes, “Tears” is dripping (no pun intended) with atmosphere and intensity. It is the perfect audio synonym for Max Payne 3.
“Max: Panama” demonstrates a type of swagger, if you will, that the rest of the soundtrack doesn’t possess. However, just when you think the soundtrack might lose it’s seriousness and go in another direction, it reminds you like a punch in the gut that nothing is always as it seems in Max Payne’s world. This slow, dance-y track features a catchy beat, but the overlying sad melodies and brooding synthesizer paint the perfect picture of a seedy, filthy underworld of violence and killing. In other words, perfect for a Max Payne game.
“Dead” takes place during an intense shootout in a graveyard midway through the game, and as the name suggests, features a darker, more ominous tone than the rest of the soundtrack. While initially sounding like a creepy atmospheric piece, the brooding synth at 0:41 adds a new layer of substance, taking this track to an even darker place. Another personal favorite of mine, this one almost sounds more appropriate for a Mass Effect game than anything, but it works great here in MP3. Echoey, crying voices round out the rest of this already creepy track, perfect for a shootout in a graveyard.
The rest of this amazing soundtrack is available on iTunes and Amazon MP3, with the Amazon one being the cheaper of the two. Either way, the album is more than worth the asking price, and if you like HEALTH’s stuff, be sure to check out their other work. It doesn’t sound quite as rooted in a seedy world of violence and drugs, but still good if you’re into electronic, dance-y stuff.