I Want To Believe in Max Payne 3
…But I don’t. Not yet.
I just don’t get the idea of taking a series that’s built on hard-boiled, noir-y darkness, and moving it to exotic, sun-soaked Brazil. What is Rockstar Games thinking with Max Payne 3?
The first Max Payne was a revelation, immersing players in an emotional story of righteous revenge in highly original ways. It was a tightly-woven tale wrapped in a game that pushed the medium forward with John Woo-style gun play and bullet time physics — long before Woo or The Matrix came to video games. The second game was pretty much “more of the same,” but at least the developers were smart enough to know not to screw up a smart formula that worked.
Max Payne 3 picks up the story and the character eight long years after the events of the second game, and rather inexplicably changes the formula in very drastic ways. And no matter how many trailers and developer videos that Rockstar releases showcasing how they’re using the latest technology to create a Max that’s more gee-whiz eye-popping than ever — and the tech does look impressive, I’m not disputing that — I just can’t get my head around this new setting. No matter how much research Rockstar conducts to ensure serious realism. Not to mention the screenshots that show this older Max going all John McClane, sporting a newly bald head and wife-beater.
Call it a classic case of cognitive dissonance if you want. And maybe I’ll feel differently if/when I get the chance to play the game for myself. I’m all for bold choices in game design; we need all of the envelope-pushing we can get. But from the outside looking in, Max Payne 3 — which was written by Dan Houser, the writer behind several of Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto games as well as Red Dead Redemption — feels like an unnecessary course change that sends Max into the familiar “blistering sunset” aesthetic of Rockstar’s other games.
I hope I’m wrong. Max deserves better. In the meantime, check out the latest game video and screens.