The last few years have not been kind to one Mr. Payne. It has been six years since Max Payne 2 was released on Xbox, PS2 and PC, and we haven't seen him since. There was the issue of last year's movie starring Mark "Marky Mark" Wahlberg as Max himself, but that wasn't exactly the cinematic tour de force some had hoped for.
So here we are in the summer of 2009, and it is revealed that Max will make his triumphant return in Max Payne 3. Originally scheduled to release this year, the game was pushed back into 2010 to "benefit from having more development time". It will also be the first in the series to not be written by Sam Lake or developed by Finnish studio Remedy Entertainment (who are working on the 360 exclusive Alan Wake).
This third game in the series takes place 12 years after the second. Gone is the black hair and leather jacket, and in are a beard and a noticeable weight gain. After the events of Max Payne 2 he has left New York, drifting from place to place before eventually finding himself in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Developer Rockstar Vancouver has used scanning equipment to re-create the feel of Sao Paulo, so you can expect the most realistic city to appear in a video game yet.
But why Sao Paulo? Max Payne, as usual, is fighting corruption and violence for a private security force owned by a rich Brazilian family. The usual themes of manipulation and betrayal are present, but in a new, sunnier location. Along with a new story, the classic third person shooting action will be enhanced with the ability to use cover and take human shields. Objects in the environment like crates will be destructible as well. Another new feature is kill-shots Max can pull off when he is near death. Successfully killing an attacker results in Max jumping back to life, thanks to an adrenaline boost.
The most notable feature of the first Max Payne games was bullet time, which has been copied endlessly since the games release. Max Payne 3 is no different, including all the jumping in slow motion while shooting twin pistols action you could want. Environmental bullet time is similar to quick-time events, but players retain full control of Max Payne during the event. For example, Payne slides down a tin roof in slow-motion while popping off enemies. The game won't be open world, but Max will have some ability to climb walls and fences, opening up new possibilities to approach combat. Kill-cams are going to be implemented to add style to kills, so expect some visceral deaths.
Unknown voice actor
Just like Grand Theft Auto IV, Max Payne 3 makes use of Rockstar's own RAGE engine and Natural Motion's Euphoria, so AI reacts to objects in the environment accordingly. Along with the expected next-gen overhaul for graphics, voice actors will change as well. While no names have been announced, James McCaffray – who did the Max's voice in the first two games – will not return. The developers explain that since Max is 12 years older, going with the same voice actor wouldn't make much sense.
Outside of Max's new look, the most interesting addition to Max Payne 3 looks to be the inclusion of multiplayer. The developers are keeping quiet for now, but one could assume the usual deathmatch and team deathmatch modes would be included, with a Max Payne spin on things of course.
While hardcore fans of the series might be a surprised to see Max's new look, updated graphics and a new story paired with the same shoot-em-up gameplay make Max Payne 3 a title to watch out for in early 2010. And who knows, by then he could have re-grown some hair.