|System: Xbox 360, PS3, PC|
|Dev: Rockstar Vancouver|
|Pub: Rockstar Games|
|Release: May 15, 2012|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p|
by Adam Dodd
The wait for a third game in the popular Max Payne series has been a long one, as Max Payne 2 came out eight years ago. Ever since, fans have been clamoring for a third game in the series. Now, the folks at Rockstar Games are breathing new life into the series, with the third game due out next year. This is a unique project for Rockstar, as the previous two Max Payne titles were handled by Remedy Entertainment, the studio behind Alan Wake. But if any studio can take the action and storytelling to the next level, it'll be Rockstar, and if what we've seen of the game so far is any indication, this looks like it's going to be one hell of a ride.
Max Payne 3 takes place several years after the events in the second game. Since we last saw him, Max has been followed by the traumatic memories of his past. According to Rockstar co-founder Sam Houser, "this is a Max as we've never seen him before, a few years older, more world-weary and cynical than ever." When we see Max, he's at his worst; his life is spiraling downward and he's since left New York City behind. Max Payne 3 takes place in Sao Paulo, Brazil where Payne has tried to start a new life working private security for a wealthy man and his family. When gangs threaten the family he's hired to protect, he's forced to do whatever he can to protect them. Thankfully, Max is adept at handling tough situations.
The game uses Rockstar's proprietary game engine that brings with it some of the most advanced technology available in the industry today. This means Max Payne will look even better than their previous work, all of which were insanely gorgeous games, and make this game look and feel like a cinematic experience. Unlike their other games, like Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead Redemption, Max Payne 3 is a more linear experience. This is a more refined, less open game, which allows Rockstar to control much of what you see, so the cinematic quality is never broken. To make the characters look and act more realistically, Rockstar is using motion capture to bring the characters to life. Max will again be voiced by James McCaffrey, who will be the voice and the body of the game's lead character.
One of the things the Payne series is known for is its combat, and this time it's seeing a few renovations. Staples of the action/shooter genre will be present, including dual-wielding, melee combat, and an intelligent cover system that makes navigating the environment without making yourself vulnerable to your enemies easier than ever. On top of that, there will also be a very realistic arsenal of weapons that Max can choose from to dispatch all these goons. Should you find yourself getting sick of a particular weapon, all you have to do is replace it with the weapon dropped by a fallen enemy. Then, of course, the Bullet-Time will be making its triumphant return as well. The Bullet-Time will feel much like it did in the previous games, only this time it's been more finely tuned so you can make the most of the time you spend using it.
Despite wanting to stay true to the source material, Rockstar isn't afraid to try new things with this game. When you take out the last guy in a group of enemies, the Kill-Cam is activated, which follows the final bullet you fire to its destination inside the head, torso, groin, etc. of the last enemy you kill. Instead of giving us a second or two to watch the final guy die slowly as we bask in the satisfaction of successfully mowing down a handful of enemies, the Kill-Cam is actually controllable. While you're following the bullet along its trajectory, you can move the camera to see it from different viewpoints and even manipulate the bullet's speed. The Euphoria engine that controls the game's physics (it was also the reason the horses in Red Dead Redemption looked so realistic) actually animates every bullet differently, each with its own unique physics.
Visually, the game is attractive in the way that polished games of this generation tend to be. It was conspicuously absent from E3, and hasn't been seen in motion yet, but the screenshots show a title that offers both the grit and grime of the New York experience and, almost paradoxically, green palms and brilliant sun for Sao Paulo, with adobe houses and graffiti ever present.
If you're a fan of the series, fear not, as it's in very capable hands. For those of you who haven't yet been introduced to Max Payne, this is a good intro to the series. This is definitely a Max Payne game; the frantic gunplay and a focus on story are the things Rockstar looks to be investing the most time into, and if it pays off, this could be a very memorable game. With its darker and grittier new look, stunning graphics, and deep combat system, Max Payne looks to be shaping up into the best game in the series so far.
CCC Contributing Writer