So, Max Payne 3. Apologies if I give the impression that I have a "thing" for Max Payne, although quite clearly I do. I know it's not fair to inflict it upon you, the dear reader, just because I happen to believe in my heart of hearts that everything good and interesting about our hobby can somehow be tied, however tangentially, into Remedy's shooter noir. But a recent Game Informer preview of the soon-to-be-new game based on everyone's favorite cop on the edge put the series back in my mind and soon had me ruminating on one particular aspect of the videogame industry as whole: the drive to sequelize.
I was thrilled when I first heard that a new Max Payne game was on the way, slightly less so when I found out that Remedy was no longer on the job and less again when it turned out the game would take place in Brazil. It went downhill from there and by the time I got my first eyeful of the new Max, a bald, bearded slob in a wifebeater, my enthusiasm for the game had cooled considerably.
This preview renewed my interest, however, but for all the wrong reasons. The new game is being developed by Rockstar Vancouver and art director Rob Nelson admitted that taking over the franchise for the third installment is a "tricky" proposition. "You have to maintain the elements of it that are special and that people remember, but you also have to evolve," he said. "We're definitely looking back and trying to maintain every element that clicked with people eight or nine years ago and make it have the same impact now."
It's a laudable sentiment. Too bad there doesn't appear to be a shred of truth to it. That may sound harsher than I mean it to; I certainly don't want to imply that Nelson is a liar and I suppose in the end we could just be differing on our ideas of what "clicked." But aside from a couple of the most basic mechanical aspects of the first two games, I can't for the life of me imagine what it is he's talking about.
Bullet-time remains, of course, as do the between-chapters comics through which the story unfolds. But New York City is out, as is the incredibly strong cast of supporting characters. (Although in all fairness, most of them were dead by the end of Max Payne 2 anyway.) Max himself is no longer an everyday cop struggling to find meaning and redemption in a world that has left him broken, but is instead a huge, muscled slab of meathead working as some kind of private security goon in Brazil. The game will even feature a new voice actor in the title role, a huge change and big risk for a franchise that's famous for its near-iconic narration.