Rockstar and I have had a rough couple of years. GTAIV was bland, Red Dead Redemption had interesting concepts but was glitchy and had a contrived story, and then LA Noire was barely memorable and suffered from the same plot no-no's as Red Dead. Now I haven't played the other Max Payne games to compare this one to, but I can say that this game is exemplary at making a mature, thoughtful action game.
The plot unfolds very stylistically... visually it may not have the most realistic graphics on the market, but it knows how to impress using what it had. It took some aesthetic risks, but they definitely worked. The writing, despite the occasional cheesy one-offs, frequently drops lines that stick with you, and emphasizes them by embedding the words into the cutscenes. The pacing is absolutely phenomenal--looking back, it really does play like you're moving from action setpiece to action setpiece--but within the confines of the gameplay, Max's narration of the environment keeps you in the story rather than too much inside your own head. And...
SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER... They don't kill Max Payne. That was my biggest fear going into this, since Rockstar is known to do it (LA Noire, Red Dead). But, they didn't, and I think they're better for it. It made the resolution all-too-fast and hardly resolute at all, but at least they kept him breathing.
All that being said, I think it's a marvelous game. In my mind, it should join the ranks of Portal 2 and Shadows of the Damned as excellent examples of storytelling in modern action games.
I greatly enjoyed this game. It brought lots of aspects that haven't been seen in other games such as the animation system. In my opinion it is a very good game. some of the other reviews are a bit harsh. this game shouldn't be rated lower than a 5 unless you have a really good reason for it. Fresh content and very immersive. Also this game is not for kids. Lots of adult content. It's meant for a more mature gamer.