Max Payne 2

Yesterday, Remedy Entertainment made a surprise announcement that they’d struck a deal with Rockstar Games, the current owner of the Max Payne IP, that will allow Remedy to remaster the first two Max Payne games. Rockstar, of course, will be footing the bill.

I guess this deal is not surprising, considering the current Hollywood-ification climate of the video game industry; everything old is new again. This isn’t always a good thing, as we learned with the awkwardly named Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition, which Grove Street Games released with Rockstar’s blessing. The good news for Max Payne, though, is that Remedy will be helming this one and using their Northlight game engine. If Alan Wake Remastered is anything to go off (which also uses the Northlight engine), Remedy has the chops to pull this off.

The final product will be available on PC, PS5, and Xbox Series X|S, but the announcement leaves the last-gen consoles in the lurch. This obviously sucks for those who are still unable to get their hands on a new rig, or perhaps are just unwilling. But considering this project, which will combine both Max Payne 1 and 2 into one game package, is still currently in the concept stage, it might be a while until we even see a trailer, let alone get to play the thing. So there will be time to get your hands on a PS5 or Xbox Series X|S if you should so be inclined.

I absolutely love the first two Max Payne games. The first entry set the standard for third-person action, narrative-focused games, and both games reshaped the way I thought about story and characters in video games. Even though the gameplay is a bit creaky, these games still stand the test of time. So it will be exciting to see how Remedy takes advantage of both the current tech and Rockstar’s checkbook. And with both games combined, this might be a chance for Remedy to rework the narrative a bit to deliver a more cohesive product and maybe cut out some of the chaff.

I wouldn’t mind having tighter controls for the blood trail maze in the original, or better A.I. scripting for the construction site sniper level in the second game. What will be even more interesting is to see if they incorporate in-engine, fully modeled cutscenes, or if Remedy will still use the more comic-book-style, still-image cutscene method of the original games.

Oh, and will Sam Lake’s troubled visage return as the face of Max Payne? I imagine not, as this will be a chance to retcon Max to look like Timothy Gibbs who was the actor Max was modeled after in Max Payne 2. Or maybe Remedy will go for the gold and use James McCaffrey, who was the model for Max in the third game (and was also, of course, the voice actor in all three games). This latter route would make the most sense to me.

In fact, this could perhaps even spur Rockstar to remake Max Payne 3 to coincide with this project, or even to remaster it for current-gen consoles. Right now, it is only readily playable on PC and Xbox consoles via backward compatibility. It’s unavailable for Sony players, unless they fire up the old PS3.

Speculation and wishlists aside, I am really excited by this unexpected news. I have no doubt that this will be something special. Now, if only Remedy could also remake that abysmal Max Payne movie, the triumvirate would be complete.

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