Fine Rockstar, I'll Admit It -- You Get Max Payne

Okay Rockstar, fine. I'll admit it. You get Max Payne. You get it.

I'm been following the progress of Max Payne 3 since it was first announced, and it occurred to me that, more than the game itself, I've really enjoyed the manner in which Rockstar has slowly unveiled the game -- via an elaborate series of trolls and baits. Fans have been reeled in, caught on hooks, toyed with, and tossed back into the ocean at Rockstar's discretion.

Personally, I've thoroughly enjoyed the whole trolling process. Trolling is an art, and Rockstar is a true master.

But now the foreplay is over. I'm sat in front of a screen, controller in hand, and it's time to get busy.

Discussing the pure mechanics of a third person shooter like Max Payne is almost a redundant exercise -- you know what to expect. In Max Payne you shoot bad guys. You shoot them with different weapons. Different weapons work better in specific situations. Sniper for precision at distance, shotgun for blasting fools close range.

The design tropes are present and correct -- Max Payne is a mostly linear third person shooter with bells and whistles -- but you can see Rockstar almost trying to kick the doors down, attempting to wriggle its way out of the straight jacket. In most respects it succeeds, but in a handful of areas the struggle is fruitless.

The core gameplay of Max Payne 3 is solid. Its weaponry has weight and, more importantly, Max has weight. The game's combat encounters are fun, and throw up a series of interesting situations, interesting choices. The new cover system provides a neat respite from what is usually a frantically paced ballistic ballet and, contrary to what you might think, actually works really well within the Max Payne universe.

But, of course, the real fireworks manifest when you cut loose from cover and leap around like a beer bellied buffoon on red cordial, probing for inventive ways to use the game's bullet time. As I mentioned in earlier previews, Max Payne 3 is a game built from the ground up for slow motion, and it shows in every aspect. Animation is fluid, and pornographic in its presentation of ultra-violence. Every movement you make is represented accurately, and your movement feels tactile as a result -- as if you were the one who made these deft movements occur. This sounds like simple design, but Max Payne executes where most games feel lazy, and that's rewarding.

Movements in Max Payne 3 are seamless, and that's where Rockstar's determination to push boundaries works most efficiently. It blurs the lines between cinematics and gameplay, blending interactivity into the story in innovative ways that just make sense. It's disorientating at first -- previous experience tells gamers that when a camera cuts away from its usual position, it's time to sit back and watch -- but in Max Payne 3 you often have an element of control. Is it wrong to describe the ability to continue blasting enemies in slow-motion after you've killed him as a 'delicate touch'?

Probably.

But there are moments when you wonder if less is more. I get the sense that while Rockstar has had little problem recreating the frenetic pace of Max Payne's shoot-outs, it may have struggled with bringing Max Payne's comic book style cut-scenes up to speed. Their solution isn't quite to my tastes. Instead of a simple comic book style with voice overs, Rockstar has decided to go with traditional cut-scenes interspersed with multiple flashy camera tricks -- all flares and filters. Occasionally a line of dialogue will be spoken, but also written on the screen for emphasis. It feels a little obtrusive, as if Rockstar is either afraid to simply let the dialogue do the talking, or intent on adding too much pizzazz. It's a sort of halfway house between the comic book style and playing it straight, and I sort of wish they'd just gone one way or the other.

You can almost feel Rockstar bursting out of the strait jacket of third person design, trying to make the lines between cinematics and gameplay invisible -- trying to preserve consumer nostalgia whilst pushing Max Payne into a brave new world of Rockstar's design. Thankfully, it treads that tightrope successfully, where it counts, only occasionally floundering.

Rockstar gets how to make a pure third person shooter, and it definitely gets Max Payne.


Comments

    What is the setting like? How does Sao Paulo scrub up?

      last pic
      Capt. Price gets pwned by Max Payne, ROFLMAO!

    Wow you're only just realising this now?!
    This has been my most wanted game for what seems forever now & I never doubted Rockstar....not for a second.

      Oh & I mean no offence by that lol

    I disagree. I don't think they get it.

    The action stuff looks good, but it's a shame they've dumbed down the story telling to a generic cutscene style instead of the awesome film-noir the original had going on.

    Also seems unlikely we'll see anything as interesting as the dream sequence in the original.

      That was genuinely creepy.

      Very well said, cant agree more.

      100% agree with this comment, i cant count the number of times i finished the first 2, i was the biggest fan of the series i knew of.

      and so far EVERYTHING i've seen of 3 has been a sad disappointment. im expecting "kane and lynch 3 the max payne chronicles"...
      I hope to all hell im proven wrong.

      1000x this...

      It seems the average person thinks "Max Payne? That's just slow-motion and shooting guys... Rockstar is gonna make it even better!"

      Right... I'm sure they are... and Alan Wake is just Doom3 in the woods.

      Remedy+Sam Lake get Max Payne. Rockstar gets hookers and thugs and helicopters.

        Then its a good job Sam Lake is story consultant. Nothing goes into the game without his okay.

          The movie gave him "character consultant" credit as well... Call me cynical and whatnot, but I doubt he had a say at all.

    My only concern was not whether they can "get" it, but if the story makes up for being part of a series that was already wrapped up and finished at the end of the second game.

    I agree with Crowbar, Max Payne is about the story. I loved how they incorporated all of the dream sequences in the originals. Sure Max Payne is also about shooting people in slow mo, but it's gotta have the story driving it, or it will just be another 3rd person shooter. The originals are some of my favourite games to date.

    So you're saying the gameplay is about right? Well that's what I'd expect. Max Payne's gameplay was a means to an end, what made it special was the story they were telling and the way it was told, and as far as I can see Rockstar has completely buggered that up.

    Mark, can you give us some indication re: story please? Do they get Max Payne there, too?

    If MP3 is JUST an above-average shooter, I'll pass until bargain bin time. But if the story has the same kind of impact as the originals, I'll be getting it sooner! :)

      Hard to say -- it felt like a very Rockstar story. Nice dialogue, unique themes.

        Hard to say why? Didn't you play the game? Didn't you play the original games? Why bother to write several paragraphs about stuff we already know/expect (Gee it looks and plays like every other triple-A console game released in the last 4 years) and leave out what actually makes this a franchise - the IP!

        Seriously, you need to come back with something more or lock yourself in the closet for being a retard.

        Wow Sony is stupid! This game looks amzaing too bad it will never see the light of day. This was the game called 8 days that Sony supposedly cancelled. Shuhei Yoshida, stated that the lack of an online mode in Eight Days was part of the consideration to cancel the game.In 2009 it was confirmed that the game hasn't been cancelled, but merely put on hold'. 3 years and no update this game is probably cancelled for good, too bad because the mechanics and game play look amzaing.

    Want this game so much. Hopefully the story works well, and if not, I still have bullet ballet. Must replay 1&2!

    That man in the last image look like Price from Modern Warfare. Agree?

    I wonder if this Max Payne has those trippy sequences like when being on Valkyr or those House Of Horrors Mona Sax episodes? Those did it for me.

    Awesome. Up until now I was so not sure on this game.

    Max Payne on PC was one of THE games that defined my teenage years of gaming (mostly because it was around the same time I finally got my own PC in my room), so up until now I have been very worried about it's transition into the now. The same can be said for Max Payne 2, to a degree.

    I bought Stranglehold years ago to re-live the glory of the gameplay in Max Payne. Instead, I found it boring and outdated (which probably has a lot to do with that game as well...) As a result of that, I have been worried about Max Payne 3 since its announcement. However, if I got to pick the developer, I probably would've chosen Rockstar anyway! haha.

    I get paid, think I might chuck a pre-order down =D

    Good article until I got to "disorientating".

    All that I've seen, it seems to me Rockstar do not get Max Payne. I don't think Rockstar are capable of doing a game that doesn't look and sound like a movie.
    No I haven't played it and I'm sure the gameplay will be tight, but I've seen bugger all of the atmosphere of Max Payne. This is John McClaine, not Max Payne. Where's the graphic novel cutscenes? Where's the metaphoric heavy narration? Where's the darkness (which important, it echo's Max's own darkness)? Where's the deep personal attachment to the events of the story, which is vital and nothing of the sort has been shown?
    If Rockstar has set out to alienate old time Max Payne fans, they're doing it right. I'm still keeping an eye on it, but been really disappointed with it "being" Max Payne thus far

    I don't understand this "review" or "preview" at all. The game looks like every other bloody game made for console in the last 4 years. The mechanics are all the bloody same (chest high walls ftw) the only thing they've done is procured the Max Payne IP and there is literally NOTHING in this that talks about it, or how it's used and what it feels like other than 2 sentances about the cut scene.

    Frankly, I think either this author is phoning it in, or has played about 5 minutes of the game and trying to justify writing something about it.

    Either that, or (shudder) he's been paid off by Rockstar to spout crap on what will almost assuredly be a flop, maybe their real first.

      ... you don't come 'round here much, do you?

      First of all, you can't really question Mark's journalistic integrity and expect to be taken seriously. Not in the slightest. He's never had a problem admitting mistakes and fronting up to criticism, even when they're banal attacks like yours — apparently formed on the basis that you think the game's going to be shit and he didn't call it shit, nor did he give you a real reason to think it's going to be a terrible cash-in. Don't worry about reading between the lines though; ignore that he said it feels like a very Rockstar story (rather than a MP/Remedy story) and the lack of overt praise, let's just assume he's crawling around inside Rockstar's colon.

      As for your other comment, why do you think retards should be locked up in closets, and is that the kind of thing you'd walk up to someone and say in person... or are you scared of being put on your arse?

      You're a very nosy fellow, kitty cat. Huh? You know what happens to nosy fellows? Huh? No? Wanna guess? Huh? No? Okay. They lose their noses.

    I love that every comment here is from someone who a) doesn't get the 'noir' atmosphere that they keep talking about and b) hasn't played the game.

    Not to get high and mighty, but not falling into either camp, the game is shaping up nicely - contrary to your (mostly wrong) belief that Rockstar don't understand noir, they do - and it's good.

    Should the comic book cutscenes be included? Yes and no. I always thought there was a disconnect between the voice overs and the imagery themselves, and the cinematics seem to (mostly) bridge the gap.

    But the story IS 100% noir. Rain and night does not a noir story make. And the gameplay is solid as.

    tl;dr, don't judge, you know nothing about noir, and you obviously know nothing of max payne

      Good point. "Noir" is Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe. It's fast wits, a loaded gun and a bottle of rye.

      Forget it Jake, it's Chinatown.

      From what I've seen Rockstar seem to understand this.

      Agree with this 100%. I love the original Max Payne games but, honestly, they weren't aesthetically true 'Noir', and the stories were only somewhat hard-boiled. It would be cool to see Rockstar focus purely on story, and deliver a hard-boiled narrative somewhat like an updated Richard Stark, or Mickey Spillane. As it stands, the games were never truly 'Noir', so everybody should stop worrying about the lack of the New York nighttime setting; instead, we should be worrying if Rockstar got the hard-boiled aspect right.

      My problem with Rockstar's Max Payne has nothing to do with "Not being Noir enough" and everything to do with "Rockstar writes 'Rockstar stories', which are not remotely similiar to what Remedy and Sam Lake created in the first two Max Payne games"

      In Max Payne games the world is a dark reflection of Max's mind and inner demons. Everything in the world is tied to the character of Max Payne and his emotional and psychological state. The characters, settings, dialog, advertisements on far off buildings, TV shows, etc... they all reflect and revolve around this theme. Another example of this type of character-centric writing would be Alan Wake. (Same developer/writer)

      Ok. So then what has Rockstar come up with? ...
      For people who have been big fans of Remedy and Max Payne for over a decade it's not as simple as "Noir with slow-motion" no matter what Rockstar or various media outlets have been saying.

      Sorry, this comes off as way more confrontational than I had intended, I'm sure. I just felt the need to clarify that the entire argument regarding whether it "is or isn't Noir" is totally beside the point.

      I'm gonna just go pop some pills and stare into a bathroom mirror for awhile... relax, ya know? :-P

        That is a valid point; but at the same time, Rockstar have never made a Max Payne game before. I think it's a little ridiculous to start assuming what will and won't be featured via assumptions based on unrelated past games. I am sure Remedy's "Death Rally" didn't contain those distinctive traits you mentioned, but they were still able to appear during the development process of the first Max game.

          I'm aware that a lot of what I'm going off of is just what we've been shown so far about this game pre-release. But I'd like to point out something regarding that very stream of information. If you look at it as it was slowly introduced, it really seems like Rockstar started out with a completely different game, and then slowly shifted it into the existing Max Payne brand. At the same time seeing how far they'd have to go in order to win over existing fans.

          I think Mark might've been touching on this when he referred to Rockstar "trolling" but perhaps not. When the game was first revealed it was the bald-Max we are all familiar with doing cover-shooting in a tropical location. This all looked very un-Max Payne-ish. The info they released was basically that this is a completely different Max and they weren't even going to bring back the same Voice Actor. Obviously, people called them out on it. The game goes dark for many months, comes back with a few screens of a level that is basically lifted from the second game in the series. (Max's apartment building that gets attacked by the Cleaners in MP2) Max's Model is also noticeably changed to resemble his MP2 appearance and *surprise everyone!* Rockstar was just kidding and they've brought back the original voice-actor. Then more time spent in the dark, while Rockstar begins shipping out different parts of development to all their studios. Then the next time we hear anything we're seeing even less of the bald-Max in the screenshots, but they also release a tentative poster/cover image that still includes bald-Max's face in the background... being mostly obscured by a nondescript thug with an AK, a nondescript hooker-ish looking woman, and a helicopter. (What's that sound like?) And then they release a trailer that seems to be for a Micheal Mann film but with the title theme from MP2 played over-top of the footage. (We'll see if that makes it into the game... at this point they might have realized it'd be a good idea to at least include that too.) Myself and perhaps 3 others (c'mon I'm probably totally alone at this point ;-P), still haven't seen anything that evokes that special Max Payne type experience. Meanwhile, most of the press and 'gamers' in general now accept it as 'Truly Max Payne' and are quite excited.

          This is totally understandable! Rockstar makes some fun stuff, and sometimes some great stuff. I loved Red Dead Redemption. But it was still very much a 'Rockstar Game', if you see what I mean. From what we've seen of Max Payne 3 at this point? I'm thinking that it's actually *more* of a Rockstar game than RDR was. Which isn't what I want from a sequel to a game series I've played for over a decade.

          I do admit that the actual gameplay will likely be pretty great. It looks great in the trailers. It sounds great from descriptions I've read in the media. I just don't see Rockstar making an effort towards those things that were so unique to the Max Payne games. I see them making a Rockstar game with the Max Payne name, seemingly because they wanted to justify having it.

          In thinking about it, and comparing it to what they did with Red Dead Revolver to make Red Dead Redemption... I would have loved to see Rockstar re-imagine or re-launch Max Payne... with maybe a few nods and easter eggs to the previous games here and there. I think a lot of my problems stem from the fact that this is being billed as '3'... as in 'the sequel to 2'... Which is very different in my mind.

          I dunno. I admit I'm a Max Payne fanboy, and it's likely I have little to no ability for reason when it comes to this game... but that's my take on the situation. and now I think I can describe myself as a rabidly irrational novelist :-P

            BAH, I forgot to include that when they recently revealed the 'final art' for the game's box the 'bald-Max' design in the background (behind the gang member and the prostitute?) had been changed into the more accepted 'Max still has hair but is a little older looking' design.

            Sorry for the uberpost and then following it up immediately with another one :-P I'm done now, I promise.

        Exactly. This is my worry about Rockstar's interpretation of Max Payne

    Sounds encouraging. I was mostly concerned with the gameplay feeling good, and as an animator the player locomotion is one of the most important things to me. It seems like some developers are really making big improvements in this area these days - Battlefield 3 blew me away - the first time I played it I just spent an hour or so running and jumping around marvelling at how good it felt.

    Story is important too, and most games these days do pretty ok with that - but really, I'm still yet to play a game with a story that felt as good as a well written book or film, so there's no point fussing about it.

      When I first played Red Dead Redemption I spent ages just drawing and bolstering my revolver!

      And that horse riding!

      Yeah, I think Rockstar know what they're doing.

    Where I'm concerned is the story's relation to Max. The first two games' stories were both intimately linked to Max himself, and that's where half of the greatness lies.
    Everything I've heard about 3's story seems to indicate that it's just Max taking some job that he has absolutely no personal attachment to. An excuse to shoot stuff without bothering to give the protagonist good cause to do what he does (and it simply being a job does not count for it, not in noir).

      Have you ever seen the movie Man on Fire?
      That's where I see Max Payne 3 heading.

      The hard-boiled noir stories I've read all seem to be fairly existential, so it being a job he's not attached to still fits the genre.

        Just because Max doesn't seem emotionally connected to the story doesn't mean that the events of the narrative won't have some kind of emotional resonance with his past experiences. Many hard-boiled stories start with a reluctant protagonist who goes on to find some kind of incentive for their involvement with the plot. I personally believe this game will feature some kind of redemption story; a set of events that will allow Max to come to term with his past and absolve himself of perceived 'sins'. At first he may not be emotionally connected, but the plot will act as a catalyst for his salvation (perhaps through a series of events that will act as a meta-narrative retelling the past games).

    The real question everyones forgeting is - does it have Pink Flamingos?

      ^ I'm pretty sure this guy gets it

    ie address unknown;

    http://youtu.be/_wM38QNsSG8

    Well i'm very dissapointed by many Things...

    1. No Advantage by using golden Guns (for what i should get them also?)

    2. No Advantage by earning XP, there is nothing to spend it like a Skill tree or so (for what there is XP also?)

    3. Poor Hit Detection, 10 Shots into a Guy in front of me, only 1 is visible, very poor

    4. Its more a Movie than a Game, almost 80% is done automaticaly, i not even have the freedom and Choice to open Doors, jumping down, running into Rooms and choice where i go, no instead everything is done by the Movie ehh i mean Game... If they do all for my excepting to die, which also ist often the Result of the poor auto run into a shity Location, then they should play it for my instead, because i have almost no Decision or Freedom as the Player!

    5. Cutscenes are way to long and i can't skip them, so i prefer to go to the Toilet, eating something, go out shopping, after that perhaps its finaly over and i'm dead because after the 20 Minutes Cutscene i got shot automaticaly because i was not in front of the TV, but luckly i can then press repeat and finally i can take the Control again, well yeah is it a Game or an semi-interactive Movie?

    6. Also many Drop out to Dashboard after these shity long Cutscenes, many Time i come back and i'm at the Dashboard instead seeing the repeat Option...

    7. Enemys can shot trough Walls while you can't, this becomes even better if the one shooting trough the Wall actually starts the Last Stand Animation, the Camera is then pointed to the Wall where you see the Wall and logically can't shoot the Enemy that shooted trough the Wall, so you die because you was unable to get the Enemy behind the massiv Wall, this truely reveals the Bug, not?

    8. Also Weapons are changing from alone, i equip a RIfle, the Game decidec to unequip it while opening the Door, or worser on each Chapter you loose all your Weapons and Ammo and Painkillers, instead to get an default Amount of Painkillers and one Gun with less Ammo you had before - sorry but if i equip an Rifle and go to the Door i want it equiped, and if i have two Guns and a Rifle, i expect to still have it after progressing to the next Level, else there is something wrong!

    For me there is more than enough to fix, its rally no Fun this way, looks like they rushed the Game... Also they know that they done many wrong, because if you die twice you get Painkillers and Ammo automatically, would not be needed if the checkpoint would have been choiced better and of course all the other Bugs not present, for me it looks like a very cheap Solution to circumvent the Bugs without actually fixing them...

    I played many, many Games, but this is one is the most disappointing so far, hope they fix it...

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