Six Of Us Debate Whether Rockstar Should Bring Back Max Payne

Six Of Us Debate Whether Rockstar Should Bring Back Max Payne

As we so often do, a few members of the Kotaku team got to talking about Grand Theft Auto yesterday. This lead to a discussion about one of Rockstar’s other, smaller titles: Max Payne. Specifically: where should it go next, if it goes anywhere at all?

Six Of Us Debate Whether Rockstar Should Bring Back Max Payne

Stephen Totilo: San Andreas is my favourite GTA.

Yannick LeJacq: Stephen, you also said GTA V was the most fun game in the series a the start of your review. So what do you like about San Andreas in particular?

Stephen Totilo: San Andreas has a satisfying narrative arc that sees early-game missions paying off in late-game missions, has a wide range of gameplay that is mostly fun and does a very good job of taking the geographical diversity of the California and Nevada and putting that into one multi-city game. It also has a jetpack.

Evan Narcisse: It still kind of bothers me that San Andreas honed in on a “hood flick” sensibility for the series’ only game with a black lead. But CJ’s story wound up having a lot more depth than I was expecting.

Stephen Totilo: San Andreas was the first GTA I played that didn’t have awful targeting controls. You could snap from one enemy to the next reliably. This wasn’t the case in Vice City, which oozed style but was maddening to shoot through. San Andreas also was the beginning of Rockstar having mercy on players with trip-skip options. Also: the first and last GTA in which eating a lot made you fat.

Yannick LeJacq: I almost feel weird admitting this, but I really didn’t enjoy GTA games until GTA V. The controls were too messy for me, the graphics too blocky, to really accomplish the things Rockstar was trying to. I remember when GTA III came out, and all my friends acted like it was the second coming. But even back then, it just seemed muddy and silly to me. The openness was cool, but everything I liked about playing video games was so thoroughly compromised to achieve that. The only way I ever really played it was with friends where we’d take turns going on rampages and see who could last the longest.

I really loved the idea of San Andreas. But, again: that same problem. I could never finish the game because there was this one fucking mission where you had to land a dirt bike on a train. Neither me or my brother could ever do it.

Stephen: GTA San Andreas has you saving a man from suicide in Las Vegas by having to park a truck under the spot where he’s going to jump. The man is trying to commit suicide because, early in the game, you stole his rhyme book and ruined his rap career. In other words, redemption pre-Red Dead Redemption.

Yannick LeJacq: Well, so that’s the thing. I feel like San Andreas had a lot of truly ambitious ideas that would work much better in a game that Rockstar could actually make today. Could, I don’t know if they would.

Stephen Totilo: Given their attention to detail, I can’t see them doing another multi-city game.

Luke Plunkett: Given the costs in doing so to modern standards, I can’t see it either.

Stephen Totilo: That said, San Andreas also let you fly to a small part of III!

Yannick LeJacq: Well, GTA VI is going to have have to top V somehow.

Luke Plunkett: Good thing they have got years to work on it, since Red Dead 3 is next.

Stephen Totilo: Or Bully 2.

Luke Plunkett: Man, Bully

Yannick LeJacq: What about Max Payne?

Stephen Totilo: Please no more Max Payne. waste of a great studio’s time. I view Max Payne 3 as the reason other games I want to play don’t exist

Luke Plunkett: Max Payne 3 was great, you grump. Tropical shirts! Middle-aged boozing!

Yannick LeJacq: Woah. Woah. Max Mayne 3 was incredible.

Patrick Klepek: -ly boring.

Evan Narcisse: I loved Max Payne 3, too, Yannick. The feeling of desperation was great

Luke Plunkett: Yup. Same reason i like Michael so much in GTA V. These sad, desperate middle-aged men. They’re not “fun” to play as, but that desperation was kinda fresh.

Kirk Hamilton: I, too, like Max Payne 3, though mostly for control and gameplay reasons. Plus, that fucking soundtrack!

Luke Plunkett: And Brazil.

Stephen Totilo: Max Payne is a good game that was a waste of Rockstar’s distinct talents.

Luke Plunkett: It was an indulgence.

Six Of Us Debate Whether Rockstar Should Bring Back Max Payne

Stephen Totilo: They could also spin their wheels making a side-scroller that has an incredible soundtrack and stylish cutscenes, but I don’t want them to.

Luke Plunkett: I see that argument, since those manpower hours could have gone into something else that more people wanted. I don’t understand why they can’t do more stuff like Chinatown Wars. Like: ok, you don’t need to make a AAA Bully 2. Put it on Steam or mobile.

Stephen Totilo: And if they’re going to go weird, I’d rather they do a Table Tennis or a Warriors. Do something no one else would dare do. A third-person shooter isn’t that.

Evan Narcisse: I think the Max Payne well is dry, too. You can only do the, “Hit rock bottom, claw back up” thing once, really.

Luke Plunkett: It felt like an indulgence, though. Like they owed it to Max to finish his story before closing the book.

Evan Narcisse: Agreed on that. But I also agree that it’d be nice if Rockstar created, like, tiers to what they put out now.

Yannick LeJacq: Wow. I do not feel the same way about Max Payne at all. The setting was weird, and there were some story issues: pacing, tonal problems. But how is it a waste of their talent? There’s much better shooting in Max Payne 3 than any GTA game. The sense of character you get with Max is great, too. The only guy as distinctive and memorable in GTA V was Trevor.

Six Of Us Debate Whether Rockstar Should Bring Back Max Payne

Evan Narcisse: I think the only way Max Payne moves forward is if he’s not as much of a fuck-up. He could be a P.I. — taking on various cases, still enmeshed in drama, and of course flawed. But not completely broken. It’d actually be a great episodic thing.

Luke Plunkett: Nope. Max is done.

Kirk Hamilton: Thing is, his name is MAX PAYNE. I dunno…he’s sort of a remnant of a different era.

Evan Narcisse: I agree, actually. Luke, that was a fitting ending. But if they were gonna do it, the P.I. premise is a possible way. I’m not saying they should.

Luke Plunkett: They’d do another State of Emergency before they did another Max Payne.

Yannick LeJacq: The thing that really struck me about Max Payne 3, even in comparison to the other Payne games, was the sense of character. When I played 3, I really felt like I was this depressed and liquor bloated man lurching his way towards some miserable end. I found its delivery much more effective in that regard than the way GTA V handles Michael, who, as Luke said, is a similar archetype. In that game, they tell you too much by making all these self conscious references to Michaels flaws — when he’s talking to his family, therapist, etc. They don’t let you experience it yourself nearly as well as they do in Max Payne. That said, I also think GTA V’s gameplay fits better with Trevor’s mindset as a character since both are prone to insanity, which is why Michael didn’t work quite as well as a character.

But… I guess the problem I had with Max Payne 3 was: It’s hard to tell such a pessimistic and tragic story and then leave the door open for a sequel in a dumb way. GTA V had much more confidence in its own storytelling.

Evan Narcisse: Yannick Wants More Payne In His Life.

Yannick LeJacq: I would have been totally fine if they ended the whole thing in the airport with that amazing shootout and the music swelling up the way it did. Rockstar of all developers should have the courage to see such an upsetting story through to the end.


  • The new Max Payne was fantastic but I would have liked more snow laden cities. TWO MISSIONS JUST WASN’T ENOUGH!

    I just read this conversation and it is awful. “I didn’t like earlier GTA’s because of the controls”. Seriously? How could you have survived earlier in your life if you couldn’t even handle it’s controls? And another thing, why were they playing this on consoles? GTA3 was the first one I personally played, and I just had pleasant surprises after each new release… then came GTA4 and my computer shat itself.

    • Yeah, I really couldn’t believe these people held these opinions. They are just… so, so wrong. Max Payne 3 was fantastic and exactly what I wanted from it! It pleased and surprised me, and I was (and still am) a die-hard fan of the first games.

      Loving something doesn’t mean repeating it endlessly, and that’s exactly what they didn’t do. They took Max where he needed to go, and it was deeply satisfying, to me.

  • As much as I love Max, they should leave his story where it is. I could totally get behind the idea of a spiritual successor a la Assassin’s Creed to Prince of Persia, but I don’t think anyone could really go anywhere well with Max now.

    And if they did do anything with Max, give us back our damn quick saves. That stupid shaking rooftop battle took the absolute piss with it’s stupid check point.

  • No they should have stopped at two, it was such a great way to leave the character Max Payne off. Max Payne 3, while the gameplay was fun, story wise it sucked. Max Payne 3 should of been the start of a new character’s story rather than shit on the end of Max Payne 2.

    • I totally agree. I actually stopped playing because I was hating the story. Started to feel like ‘hostel’ and it just wasn’t what I was up for.

    • Remedy are just straight up better at telling stories than Rockstar are. There’s something about the approach they have to their games which just clicks for me.

      Max Payne 3 is a perfectly competent game and technically quite impressive, but I found I lost interest in it about 2/3 the way in. Just wasn’t doing anything interesting with the character or anything, plus it had lost that Noir feel.

  • I’d be happy if Remedy gave it another go, but Rockstar’s version was rubbish. Terrible writing, bad design, and it really just wasn’t Max. Even if Sam Lake did a pretty good job showing the transition with the comics.

  • I really liked MP3, but given that I didn’t really have any personal ties to 1 or 2, I treated it as a standalone third person shooter starring a character I was somewhat oblivious about.
    It was tight, fun, had great mechanics and beautiful graphics – it ticked the boxes as far as I’m concerned, even if the story was nonsensical.

  • Done with Max Payne, I think M.P.3 Finished the series nicely, there was closure. I mean they could revive it but …nah.

  • Was good. I enjoyed my time with it, but haven’t returned.
    What I want is more Red Dead, and when they have finished that them get started on even more Red Dead

  • I was a fan of the originals and I believe Max Payne 3 was a great game! I saw it as a mini reboot and think the story was excellent. Max evolved as a person dealing with his past and looking forward to a future beyond his grief and self pity, the story was more adult, the location was somewhere I’d never seen in a game, I didn’t know anything about that part of the world before that game and that was awesome, and it even flashes back to moments reminiscent of the original for those who love snowed in cities….

    Sadly every time some developer tries to go somewhere different with a series people cry out they want more of the same. When they get more of the same they want something different. Its why there is still Call of Duty doing the same thing Every Time.

    Max Payne 3 took the original formula and gave it a sweet coat of polish, It’s a corridor shooter where you travel to set piece galleries, the fidelity of the environments were simply amazing. The shooting, character movement and cover interaction were solid. The length of the game was huge compared to many titles in this style. The Multiplayer is unique and actually fun and as such something different and sadly overlooked.

    For some reason I can’t fathom this game reviewed poorly and is the reason I don’t take much stock in reviews anymore. Don’t let everyone think for you. Seems there’s a bandwagon mentality that online reviews get on and it nearly made me miss this and other underrated games like Alice: Madness Returns (another clever story that maybe made people think too much? Simple gameplay with great artistic level design) and others that I’ll save ranting about.

    Anyhow game on gamers if you missed Max Payne 3 its usually $5 in a Steam sale check it out.

    • The story was basically a re-telling of Man on Fire, and I didn’t think it was told very well. Extra Credits did a pretty good job discussing the tonal issues.

      It was also constantly fighting the game design.You had to spend much of the game trying to save the girl, but she was destined to die in a later cut scene regardless. It made huge chunks of the game pointless, she could have been killed any time and it would have made no difference.

      The constant cut scenes were super annoying, and while it was pretty cool that he used your guns for the duration he really needed to automatically switch back to your preferred weapon at the end of each scripted sequence.

      The finale is what pushed me over the edge. I spent so long clearing out a path to the stairs, running up them, leaping off, only to have the boss automatically kill me. Turns out you just had to hang around killing endless swarms of enemies until the game arbitrarily decided it was time to take over and make Max do exactly what I was trying to do in a non-interactive way.

      • Actually the cutscene where he jumped out if the nightclub window and started shooting may be the greatest cutscene to action transition in a game ever!

      • I agree it was heaps ‘man on fire’-ish, but I quite like the story in Max Payne 3. Sure, it was OTT, but I think I just really enjoyed the narration and thought the voice actor did a great job.

        I do agree that the finale was so freaking iritating, but it does make me feel a bit better that I wasn’t the only one who was frustrated by it, I thought I was just a bit shit.

        • I think at the time it probably just irritated me, but none of my friends ever finished the game so I never got to vent and it’s grown larger in my head with time.

          The first 2 games are some of my favourites of all time, so while I do think that I have valid complaints about 3 I also understand that I probably blow them way out of proportion.

  • Well, first let’s see San Andreas Stories for ps Vita or The Warriors remastered in HD (&with Online support)Don’t fucking forget Manhunt 3 and of course the next Red Dead.
    Actually, a successor to BULLY certainly wouldn’t hurt as well. I’d say by then enough time should have passed to consider approaching a re-hash, continuation or cancellation of the M.P franchise.

  • I never played Max Payne 3 unfortunately but by what I saw it just didn’t seem like the Max Payne of the first 2 games, maybe if I can get it cheap I will play it. I like the style of the first 2 games, the snowy city, it could almost be set in Sin City.

    As for GTA: SA, I liked it until a housemate ruined it for me, went to work one day, came back that night and the housemate had changed CJ from an average guy to some muscley, tank top wearing fool and had progressed the story so much I gave up. I hope the next GTA returns to Vice City, would love to see a city stuck in the 80s, parts of the city have progressed, like it is a 2015 CBD, but a lot of the outter areas is still 80s, cars, fashion, colour schemes still from the 80s

  • What’s there to debate? Max Payne 3 was fantastic. The only reason I havnt returned more than twice is because the story is just so damn depressing. But a fantastic experience if someone gives it an opportunity

  • yeah, MP3 was fantastic. no complaints from me. I reckon MP4 would be best, (quasi-retirement aside), if Max came full circle, and became a cop or PI again in New York. I’d play the shit out of that

  • Yeah, like someone mentioned above – get Remedy back on-board!

    I did like MP3, but there were a few scenarios I found really irritating. The battle in the baseball/NFL stadium really stuck out as a really bland grind.

  • Bring It on !

    I’ll buy it – Have played them all and Max Payne 3 is by the far the best of them all

    This game is awesome and under-rated by far too many

    Sure it has a few quirks – what game doesn’t? – but the mechanics are just beautiful to watch and play

    Plus awesome online multipayer that has consumed far too many hours of my life

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