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Jeremy Jastrzab
11 Oct, 2011

Max Payne 3 Preview

360 Preview | Max finally makes his long awaited reappearance.
While a certain title by the name of Alan Wake had been keeping developer Remedy quite busy, Rockstar Games had taken over the rights to create the next Max Payne title. With the original ground-breaking noir cinematic action shooter having been released in mid-2001, and its sequel, Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne, in late 2003, it’s been a very long time between drinks. During which time, Max Payne can be sighted has having a significant influence for the bevy of cinematic shooters and modern time-manipulation mechanics that followed.

And ever since the ‘refreshed’ direction of the title was revealed in the middle of 2009, many have been dismayed about the new look, new location and mechanics that had seemed at odds with what was established in the preceding titles. After all, the style of Max Payne was completely distinct from anything that had come before it, and (very) early impressions had led to the typical widespread scare mongering across the Internet from those too impatient to wait and see. Despite a number of delays, a March 2012 release is looking highly likely and Rockstar has finally lifted the lid on the game with a recent eyes-on preview.

The most striking aspect of the ‘new’ Max has to be his appearance. In the first batch of screenshots, gone was the leather trench coat and gaunt looking figure, replaced with a beard, shaved head and surprisingly muscular frame. And it seemed that the characteristically dark and uninviting streets and corridors of New York had been left behind for the sunshine of Brazilian slums in Sao Paulo. That, and cover shooting mechanics had been added to the game. Following the poor reception of Splinter Cell Conviction, the panic grew louder as it seemed that Max had been ‘Fishered’. Despite these additions and possible changes though, it's way too early to be worried about Max Payne 3.

Before...

Before...
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The first sequence of the demo reassuringly showed that this Max was not a reboot or some randomly-pulled character trying to play Max. Set back in New York, the game is set several years after the events of Max Payne 2. Here, Max still had a full hairdo and his characteristic coat, but is a visibly older, more worn-out and still haunted by his unenviable past. Max is listening to a job pitch from a colleague, Raul Passos, when a New York mob boss raids his apartment while looking for revenge for the murder of his son. It’s this sequence of events that are meant lead the player from Max Payne’s descent as a New York cop, to a Private Security Agent for a wealthy Real Estate mogul in Sao Paulo. And in the interim, you’ll get to find out why the bald head, among other important details. Given the Rockstar penchant for storytelling, the aim is to further delve into the mature and surreal elements of Max Payne, such as the drug addictions and spiral of loss.

This first sequence was vintage Max Payne. Set in his apartment complex, it was reassuring to see the retention of many key features, such as (obviously) an aesthetically and mechanically improved bullet time, the grim and foreboding corridor setting, the familiar movements and animations that have been updated for modern standards, dual wielding and the similar HUD with absence of rechargeable health. The overall impression from the demo was that these familiar aspects are much more integral to the play, than the newer ones such as cover mechanics. It was almost as if cover was there as a tool to help you through tricky spots, rather than forcing Max to solely relying on stop-and-pop gameplay. However, the use of the Euphoria engine would make anyone weary, given its clunky history. The penchant for the surreal was on show too, as Max was ‘saved’ in one sequence by a ranting hobo wearing a vest made out of explosives…

Following this, the demo then showed off some of the Brazilian terrain where most of the game will likely be spent. While it’s good to see that New York will be more than just the tutorial, the time in Sao Paulo will make up the majority of the game. This area traded the corridors for slightly more open terrain, mainly junk yards and warehouses for the remainder of the demo, as Max was looking to protect Raul's girlfriend. This sequence showed off the slow motion action shots that played once the last enemy in the area was taken down, which during the demo proved a handy bridge for cut-scenes and as a sign of progression. The demo also was on opportunity to see the expanded range of motion that Max has while in Bullet-time - including a very impressive double takedown from the top of a staircase - as well as the integrated use of cinematic events that ‘look’ like a cut scene but in fact require the player to act quickly.

... and after.

... and after.
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The presentation has been evolved as well. While previously driven through graphic novel cut scenes, Max Payne 3 amps this up with full cut scenes presented with comic panels. It’s definitely a step up from the past, but something that might take some getting used to. Furthermore, Max will still have his contemplative monologues going throughout the game. While he was originally not going to be involved, James McCaffery, who voiced Max Payne in the previous two tiles has not only returned, but whose likeness was used in Max Payne 3. Graphically and sonically, the game is shaping quite well. While the Brazilian landscapes are yet to fully convince, everything else seems to be in place, particularly with the appropriately tuned sound track.

It was mentioned that Max Payne 3 will introduce multiplayer for the first time, but aside from this, it still has a lot of work to convince everyone that it’s the true continuation of a favourite series. There really needs to be more seen of what’s in Sao Paulo and how Max got there. However, the reassuring retention and focus on a lot of the aspects that made the series famous, make the modernising additions look primarily like supplements. And given Rockstar’s penchant for storytelling, it’s likely that this aspect will be just as it needs to be. Now it’s just a matter of waiting for the release.
Overall:
It might not be at Max power yet, but Max Payne 3 is reassuringly on the right track.

Related Max Payne 3 Content

Rumour: Max Payne 3 cancelled?
10 Feb, 2011 Another one bites the dust, maybe.
Max Payne 3 delayed
09 Jun, 2010 Plenty of time for Max to grow back his hair.
Max Payne 3 screens and info skulk in
24 Jun, 2009 You're in for some Payne!
9 Comments
2 years ago
"as well as the integrated use of cinematic events that "look" like a cut scene but in fact require the player to act quickly." - Does this mean quicktime events?

Anyway my opinion is improving but Brazil still seems like the most unfitting location for a Max Payne game they could possibly think of. I just don't get who pitched the idea for that and how they could have thought "god, thats brilliant." lol

Anyway if they can pull it off thats great but I'm still skeptical about the location, its just totally contrast to what Max Payne was about in the last two games (which I really loved by the way). I'm going to wait for reviews when it comes out before I decide to get this or not, which I rarely do for sequels to games that I loved a lot.
2 years ago
PixieGirl wrote
"as well as the integrated use of cinematic events that "look" like a cut scene but in fact require the player to act quickly." - Does this mean quicktime events?
Not quite. You will still have full control of Max, it's just that you'll have to perform a specific action - for example: run out of a room, dive and pull off a headshot (with bullet time optional) to save a hostage.

The Sao Paulo slums actually seem like a good location for someone like Max - as they'd be much meaner than the streets of New York. So far though, they've mainly shown warehouses and junk yards, which haven't been helping with the vibe, just yet. Until we see more of the slums and the huge contrast between the rich and poor of Brazil and Sao Paulo, the jury will still be out.
2 years ago
PixieGirl wrote
I just don't get who pitched the idea for that and how they could have thought "god, thats brilliant." lol
It's one of the most crminalised countries in the world. It has the 11th highest murder rate of any country, cops get paid bountys for the heads of street kids. The country has such a stark division of rich and poor that it's known as social apartheid for gods sake.

Seriously there is no where more perfect to tell a crime noir story then Brazil.
2 years ago
It's also bright and sunny, it might seem like a small problem, but I'm sorry, Max Payne is not bright and sunny. Unless they really work hard to pull it off and chose the locations in the area wisely, it just isn't fitting for a game in this series. Like I said though I'm waiting to see if they can make it work.
2 years ago
PixieGirl wrote
It's also bright and sunny,
So is New York a lot of the time?

If a games biggest defining feature is it's weather then you've got some problems?
2 years ago
New York is 100x more "film noir" whether its daytime or nighttime. Even at night Brazil isnt really like that. Sao Paulo has a sub-tropical climate all year round. I'm not saying they should have just used NYC again but this is just too much of a contrast... A games environment is very important to me, maybe not to you, but to me it is.
2 years ago
We don't always make Max Payne games, but when we do...

...we shave his head, turn him into a security guard and plop him in Brazil.


It's definitely going to be different than past MP games, but hey it's Rockstar so you know it's going to be fun.
2 years ago
PixieGirl wrote
New York is 100x more "film noir" whether its daytime or nighttime.
Cassablanca is one of the most famous film noir films in history and it's set here


Quote
Even at night Brazil isnt really like that. Sao Paulo has a sub-tropical climate all year round. I'm not saying they should have just used NYC again but this is just too much of a contrast... A games environment is very important to me, maybe not to you, but to me it is.
Noir and Film Noir in general have nothing to do with the setting. It's an attitude of the story and a combination of various cinematic techniques (Dutch angles, contrast in shadows light etc)
2 years ago
Well, I used the term wrongly then icon_smile.gif So disregard that, I still think the setting doesn't fit at all.
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Australian Release Date:
  18/11/2009 (PreLoaded)
Publisher:
  Take 2 Interactive
Genre:
  Action
Year Made:
  2008

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