Max Payne 3
is out this week!
And though I’m literally beside myself, muzzled by a brown paper bag as I hyperventilate in jovial anticipation, I suspect we’re all similarly animated.
So to distract us from this laborious wait, I’ve decided to illuminate an interesting development which has taken hold of Max’s legendary games developer/publisher over the past couple of years.Rockstar
, a gaming force synonymous with wreaking wanton destruction across expansive sandbox cityscapes as a superhuman ninja-criminal affiliated with some organised crime dynasty.... has finally grown up.
Yes, their titles since 2008’s now iconic GTA IV
have levelled up their grit, hardship and maturity content. But perhaps more importantly, they’ve steadily grow out of from the open world toy-box trope.
Well, sort of. Baby-steps...2010 – Red Dead Redemption
Alright, alright! It’s still a sand-box.
But it’s also a period piece, driven by a sublime narrative and coloured by a cast of arresting, believable and often dislikeable characters.
Additionally, gameplay rustled up some new features with the Dead-Eye Targeting System (A variation on Max Payne
’s Bullet Time, I’ll grant you, but pleasant to see it again nonetheless...), galloping transport and some minor stealth/melee sequences, executed with a greater care and craft than Niko’s Liberty City
coveted score on Metacritic and far more coveted sales figures, Red Dead Redemption
represented a significant watershed for Rockstar
For the very first time, the tale of Rockstar’s
most beautiful-on-the-inside creation, John Marston, eclipsed its open world, its hidden nuggets, even its slow-mo quick draws. Everyone’s favourite charmingly childish fun factory finally began making games with their brains. And not with their bal... well, you know...2011 – L.A. Noire
Admittedly, L.A. Noire
hasn’t aged quite as well in the 12 months since its release, especially with the controversy involving co-developers Team Bondi coming to light. But its aggregate remains enviously high and please recall, at the time of its release, everyone sang its praises. (Or at least internal monologued them while smoking in a P.I.’s waiting room...)
Face it! L.A. Noire
is a little bit truly unique.
I know it may not have run perfectly 100% of the time (Shifty Eyes = Telling the Truth for some reason...) but the focus on detecting, sleuthing, analytics and getting the measure of a perp from a single glance left a significant break in the mould.
Littered with bouts of driving, shooting, brawling and foot chasing, Rockstar
proved its willingness to shake off its stagnation, challenging gamers with their greatest fear: Something New.
Controversy and eventual lethargy aside, it would be a mistake to consider L.A. Noire
a misstep. It scored well, it sold well and in doing so, proved gamers are willing to dabble in highbrow, cerebral projects.
And hell, because we were good and played their posh thinky game they’re rewarding us with...2012 – Max Payne 3
So we’ve already established Rockstar
are Alpha Mutts in the spheres of sandbox gameplay, gritty realism and Noire inspired facial guessing games. The next logical step?
Why savage violence, naturally.Max Payne 3
is a linear, third person shooter defined by a gruff, burly and deeply wounded anti-hero who hurls his bulk through the air, slowing time to accurately deposit lead rounds into corpses-in-waiting.
If somehow you’re remain unclear as to the tone of Max Payne
, perhaps I should illuminate how the final kill in each wave is punctuated via a bullet tracking kill-cam, which can be slowed, rewound and panned for greater dramatic effect as it downs the final opponent.
Sounds glorious, am I right folks?!
But wait, as stated earlier, Rockstar
is all growed up now. So no longer is the franchise a sophisticated, digital stress ball for adolescent boys, a violent relief for any desk bound would be action heroes. It’s been twisted into something more.Max Payne 3
still promises the power-fantasy, but Rockstar
are now making the (generally apt) assumption that we all have brains and are ready to activate them.
And thus, Max is now an overweight, drug addled shell, haunted by the death of his family ten years later, his police badge traded for a flowery shirt as he works a dangerous protection detail in Brazil. As adults, Rockstar
challenge us to accompany Max on his journey back to humanity, to empathise with their creation as he once again starts to feel SOMETHING other than the rush of adrenaline as he pumps buckshot into armoured foes!
Yes, Max Payne 3
is about Guns, stunts and slow motion particle effects. It also concerns substance abuse, human trafficking, identity loss, human suffering and, eventually, redemption.
Time was this couldn’t be further from Rockstar’s
That’s time for you.Max Payne 3
hits shelves on May 15th (US/Canada) and May 18th (EU)