Max Payne Remake: Remedy’s action video game benchmark (Control, Alan Wake) rises from the ashes

Game News Max Payne Remake: Remedy’s action video game benchmark (Control, Alan Wake) rises from the ashes

It will have taken ten years to be talked about again, but it is there. It’s normal after all, it’s known to move in slow motion: it’s Max Payne, Remedy’s famous third-person action game. A return in the form of remakes, the development of which has only just begun. A nice surprise, which allows the studio to return to the dark universe that made it famous. And that’s great news.

After three chapters and hundreds of bullets dodged in slow motion, Max Payne is – still – not dead. To everyone’s surprise, the Remedy studio, creator of the series, announced a few days ago the development of remakes of the first two episodesalso published by Rockstar Games (GTA, Red Dead Redemption). “Max Payne has always held a special place in our hearts” affirms by the way Tero Virtala, CEO of Remedy. It must be said that it is thanks to the action game in the third person that the Finnish company made a name for itself, at the beginning of the 2000s. It will then give birth to other successes, in particular Control and Alan Wake.

In this context, Rockstar Games does not intervene by chance. In 2002, Take-Two Interactive, owner of the “R” star company, redeem the rights of Max Payne, becoming editor for the second opus The Fall of Max Payne. It is also Rockstar who will be responsible for producing the third part, released in 2012. To carry out its project, Remedy therefore had to first reach an agreement with Take-Two. And it’s for the best. As noted on the release, the Max Payne redesign will take advantage of the financial support from Rockstar and a “triple-A” format team, equivalent to large Remedy productions. But also the studio’s very solid in-house engine – the famous Northlight Engine – which was used to give life to Quantum Break and Control.

From left to right: Max Payne 1, Max Payne 2 and Max Payne 3

Max Payne Remake: Remedy's action video game benchmark (Control, Alan Wake) rises from the ashesMax Payne Remake: Remedy's action video game benchmark (Control, Alan Wake) rises from the ashes

A revolution in slow motion

Good after, for now, no release date to put in their mouths. The remakes are currently in the “concept” state planned for PC, PS5 and Xbox Series. But there is still plenty to be excited about. In his time, the first Max Payne was a small revolution third person action game. A revolution that can be summed up in two words: “bullet time”, a mechanism that allows Remedy’s hero to slow down time and jump forward, in order to avoid fire and annihilate his enemies. A term borrowed from the cinema, which of course recalls the Matrix license (the first chapter of which was released in 1999) but which comes above all from the action feature films of director John Woo. “The whole team was a fan of Hong Kong action movies” thus explain on IGN Sam Lake, creative director at Remedy. Max Payne is literally him. The man has indeed lent his features to the hero of the first part, while the studio budget is tight.

More than embodying the headliner at first (the character will then be interpreted by other actors), Sam Lake practically made Max Payne what Max Payne is. The man, however, arrived in Finnish society on a stroke of luck. A good friend of Petri Järvilehto, one of the studio’s founders, he began by working on the writing of Death Rally, a racing game with cars armed to the teeth. A great discovery for this literature student at the University of Helsinki. At the same time, Remedy is working on “Dark Justice” which would later become Max Payne. The title is at the time a futuristic dystopia, where danger and drugs are everywhere. “When I was included in the project, I proposed our time as a framework” comments Sam Lake, still at IGN. Max Payne’s own script is inspired by a film noir role-playing game concept he conceived. The creative director will then take over the reins of writing.

Max Payne 1 (Sam Lake) & “Heavy Duty” (John Woo, 1992)

Max Payne Remake: Remedy's action video game benchmark (Control, Alan Wake) rises from the ashesMax Payne Remake: Remedy's action video game benchmark (Control, Alan Wake) rises from the ashes

More creepy, you die

On Max Payne, Sam Lake will define the contours of a very dark universe, which fits squarely into the neo-noir genre. The first part opens on a New York plunged into the night, while the hero, from the top of a skyscraper, exclaims: “They are all dead. The final shot was an exclamation mark on everything leading up to this moment”. A few comic-book dialogues later, and that’s where the trouble begins, three years before the intro scene. On his way home, Max finds his wife and daughter murdered. A gruesome scene but very well done. First weird graffiti on the wall, then a strange phone call, bloodstains, screams, and the ugly truth. Max will have only one thing in mind: revenge.

Beyond offering a completely innovative gameplay for the time, with bullet time (all without a “cover” system to protect yourself behind the scenes) Remedy tampers, stages the psychology of the character, participating all the more in giving an aura to Max Payne. The first and the second episode will thus give way to nightmare scenes, where the hero will be directly confronted with his fears. Without forgetting a whole discourse on depression – Max literally takes painkillers to regain his health – but also, redemption. Max Payne 3 will abandon these gimmicks for a sunnier atmosphere, in the city of Sao Paulo, without abandoning the usual darkness of the series. A difficult turn to swallow for some fans. These remakes are an opportunity for Remedy to return to the very essence of Max Payne. And that’s a very good thing.


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Max Payne Remake: Remedy’s action video game benchmark (Control, Alan Wake) rises from the ashes

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