At New York Comic Con, we got a special media only peek at live gameplay of Max Payne 3. For those who may be too young, the original Max Payne came out in July of 2001 for the PC with XBox and PlayStation 2 releases to follow in what Rockstar claims as “the birth of the cinematic action shooter”. Max Payne introduced the concept of bullet time into games, which has been copied innumerable times since, especially in titles like John Woo’s Stranglehold, where players were able to slow down time and carefully aim and place each bullet they fired as opposed to the mad run and gun fury in most first or third person shooters. Precision was key.
Max Payne also took a Noir approach to its storytelling which helped set it apart from the games at the time which focused more on being more like big summer blockbusters than gritty crime dramas. Max Payne would eventually spawn both a sequel and a motion picture release starring Mark Walberg.
When we got to see Max Payne 3 in action, the first noticeable improvement is the full facial animations of the characters. Max no longer has the eternal look of pain frozen into his face. Instead, he has a fully animated set of emotions ranging from angst to utter despair. Just because it’s a new game, don’t expect a new demeanor for Max.
Also changed is the graphic novel style storytelling. In the first two games, cut scenes played out like reading panels from a comic book with static images with caption boxes over them while Max’s voice over told the story. Now, everything plays out in engine in full animated glory for the players as they traverse through levels. There will be Hollywood style camera cuts as well as on screen captions of what Max is saying but the game plays much more like a high quality motion comic during these cut scenes rather than flipping through a book.
There are some drastic improvements to Max’s animations. Now Rockstar is making full use of the Euphoria physics engine which makes Max brace himself for impact as he dives around levels and into barriers. In past games, he would have most likely glitched into the scenery. But now, Max’s body will react like a real person’s would as it impacts the world around him.
Returning to the franchise is voice actor James McCaffrey who plays Max. Not only is his signature vocal talent returning but Max’s face in the game is modeled after James and much of Max’s motion capture was also done by him as well. Also back will be Max’s signature health regeneration of pain killers. The bullet cam will return too at the end of each wave of enemies with some improvements like the player’s ability to change the speed at which the bullet travels, giving them control over the cinematic aspect of the shot. There will also be bullet time effects triggered by set pieces in levels changing to create extra dramatic effects.
Max won’t be able to keep a hold of tons of weapons anymore like he did in the past. Instead Max will be able to carry two single handed weapons which he can dual wield in various combinations or one two handed weapon. Enemy AI has also changed drastically. Enemies won’t take predetermined paths anymore during encounters. They will fan out and flank when necessary and conduct searches for Max when they have lost sight of him.
Also included in the game now are melee kills which you can actually catch a brief glimpse of during the trailer below if you know where to look. The one we saw during our walk through was especially brutal. There is going to be a muliplayer component to the game but it has yet to be discussed in detail.
One thing that stands out to everyone is there will be no loading times in the final game.
We can’t wait to get our hands on Max Payne 3 after what we saw play out in front of us at NYCC. Make sure to take out one of the latest trailers for the game as well as a horde of new screen shots as well. Stick to the Flickcast for more on Max Payne 3 which will be coming out in March 2012 for the PC, XBox 360 and PlayStation 3. Console exclusivity is still yet to be announced.