Ever since Rockstar unveiled Max Payne's new sun washed, bald Grizzly Adams look, naysayers have erupted claiming Finnish studio Remedy has resurrected a zombified version of the classic noire series. But we here at Gaming Union say nay to the naysayers, arguing that just because Max has put on a few pounds and grown a set of whiskers doesn't mean he's ready to be put out to pasture just yet.
From what we've already seen, a lot has changed for Max since his second outing. Moving from the gritty streets of New York for Sao Paulo, Brazil. Additionally, no longer is he the grizzled, trench coat clad detective he once was. Max now works for his old NYPD buddy Raul Passos at a private security firm - specifically protecting the wealthy Branco family, the target of violent Sao Paulo gangs.
Moving past the game's aesthetics, another big change is the addition of a cover system. A standard affair for pretty much every third person shooter under the sun, the new Max Payne is set to feature a "sticky cover system" not too dissimilar to the one seen in Rockstar's older western shooter Red Dead Redemption. Rockstar has said it has included the system to add a layer of "refinement" to the series' classic run and gun mechanic. Another key addition to the series is the inclusion of interactive cinematic set pieces, akin to those employed by Treyarch and Infinity Ward in the renowned Call of Duty series.
While hardcore fans of the old Max Payne games have criticized these changes, we here at GU welcome them. The last game, Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne was released all the way back in 2003 and while it's easy for us old guard gamers to look back on the franchise with rose-tinted glasses, the fact is the gameplay is beginning to show its age.
Bullet time, the slow motion shooting mode that set the original apart from the competition, is now a staple of the shooting genre, with pretty much every other game out there having some form of slow-mo mode. Additionally, while a cover system isn't anything new, were it not included the game would feel at best "nostalgic" - gone are the days when gamers don't question their characters inability to climb a clearly rendered ladder, or duck behind a chest level wall.
The fact is, if Max is going to come back in style, changes need to be made and while it's too early to tell whether Remedy's made the right changes, it's refreshing to see it's willing to try. Add to this the fact that the new tech - specifically the dynamic animation engine Euphori - seems to have gotten ridden of some of the game's "quirks", replacing Max's floaty, rigid and at times wooden animations with solid, meaty moves that reflect his large stature and we're nothing but excited about Payne's latest adventure.
Max Payne 3 is set for release on the Xbox 360 and PS3 in May this year, with a PC release following in June. Check back at GU closer to the time for a full review.