NYCC 11: MAX PAYNE 3 Demo Walkthrough; New Screencaps Released
Published: October 18, 2011 - 7:52am
Max Payne 3 is an upcoming third-person shooter video game in the Max Payne franchise published by Rockstar Games for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Development is led by Rockstar Vancouver in collaboration with the New England, London and Toronto studios.
Ten years ago, the word “cinematic” wasn’t one you often heard in the same breath as “video game.” Rockstar Games had a huge hand in changing that when they released Max Payne. The third-person actioner set the bar for storytelling and character development in gaming. Unfortunately, the series influence was under cut after an incredibly lackluster movie adaptation. But Rockstar is ready to bring their hard-boiled detective back into the spotlight in 2012 with the long-awaited Max Payne 3.
The developing giant was on hand at this year’s New York Comic Con, bringing the game out in full force with a massive display that could be seen across the show floor. I got the chance to sit down for a thirty-minute presentation which, other than a few unfinished cut scenes and placeholder audio, showed off a rather polished product chock full of next-gen improvements.
Story-wise, the demo began with a washed-up, alcohol chugging Max in his gritty New York City apartment. After a brief conversation with a fellow NYPD officer, Max’s apartment is shot up by gangster’s looking for revenge on the cop. It’s exactly what you’d normally expect from the series, but don’t get too conmfortable. The bulk of the story is actually set in South America, where a balder, beardier Max is trying to solve a kidnapping. Visually, it’s quite a stylistic departure for the game, with Max sneaking around in bright daylight. But the feeling of the series still appears to be perfectly in tact. You can take the detective out of New York, but you can’t take the New York out of the detective.
Fans will be happy to hear that not only is actor James McCaffrey reprising his vocal role as Max payne, but he’s also provided motion capture for the character this time around. Even Max’s face is now modeled after McCaffrey’s. As a result, the character now acts and reacts like a human being, rather than a stiff video game model. Rockstar even went as far as to build real, full-scale models of the sets to have McCaffrey climb and jump around in. When Max climbs a fence or jumps over a wall, you’re seeing an actor’s performance. The animations are much more impressive than Mark Wahlberg’s in the film adaptation.
Self aware of the game’s influence, the developers are really trying to push the cinematic angle of the game. To do so, they’ve updated the cut scenes. Some of them still use the classic graphic novel style, though they now have a more motion comic look to them. They’re quicker, sleeker, and stylistically cooler. In addition, there are some more traditional in-game cinematics that seamlessly move between shaky, handheld camera scenes and third-person gameplay. With the promise of zero loading screens, it looks like gamers are in for an intense experience as they switch straight from the dark, noir story to the intense gunplay.
And it just wouldn’t be a Max Payne game without a lot of shooting. And trust me, there are buttloads of bullets. The gunfights were constant, with Max taking on gangster after gangster with ease. Obviously, this is exentuated by the series’ signature bullettime mode, in which the player can slow down time and jump through the air shooting down enemies and dodging bullets. The effect has been copy-catted in game after game since, but no one has ever really topped Rockstar. And they’re looking to keep it that way here. Now, thanks to the advancements in motion-capture, Max jumps around in an incredibly realistic manner. It’s not the same recycled animations. If you leap into a wall, Max will grab his head to properly brace for the impact. It may sound like a small, even elementary, tweak but it makes the character feel like he actually has weight and momentum.
There’s also a bullet-cam feature to put even more focus on gunplay. Each time Max kills his last for in an area, the camera follows his bullet as it shoots down the enemy—think Batman Arkham Asylum. And it’s not just a pre-set cutscene that plays; each bullet is dynamically rendered. The bullet you see travel across the screen is precisely the one you shot. It’s incredibly satisfying. And Rockstar is allowing players to speed up or slow down the kill shot, so players can breeze through it if they don’t want to slow the pace.
There’s still one massive question I have about the game: Can it hold up against ten years of development in the “cinematic action shooter” genre? It’s clear that the developers are trying to make up for lost time, adding a bunch of now-standard gameplay elements (like an obligatory cover system, destructible environments, weapon dual-wielding, and a still-under-wraps multiplayer mode). And a few things do admittedly feel dated, like some of Max’s cheesy one-liners. With highly anticipated games like Uncharted 3 in the world, can Max Payne 3 really make much of a splash? Judging by the demo it’s certainly possible. Rockstar looks to be upping it’s game enough to compete, at the very least. Whether or not they’ll go above and beyond is unclear, but Max Payne 3 looks like it’ll be an enjoyable, action-packed experience either way.
Picking up where the release of Max Payne 2 from series creator Remedy Entertainment left off, Max Payne 3 is a true cross-studio collaboration between Rockstar Games' global development teams. The game utilizes cutting edge technology for a seamless, cinematic action experience, incorporating the latest advances in Natural Motion physics and a brand new iteration of Rockstar's own Rockstar Advanced Game Engine. The result offers highly-refined gameplay, with an extensive range of realistic weaponry, an intelligent cover system and sophisticated Bullet-Time mechanics.
In addition to an expansive single-player campaign, Max Payne 3 will be the first title in the series to introduce an addictive multiplayer experience. Max Payne 3's multiplayer aims to deliver a compelling experience that dynamically alters maps and mode progression for all players in a match. Along with traditional multiplayer modes, Max Payne 3 will also include a deep reward and leveling system, persistent clans and multiple strategic load-out options.