The Max Payne remake project has entered “production readiness,” according to developer Remedy Entertainment in a message to investors.
In the early 2000s, Remedy Entertainment flaunted its narrative and action chops with Max Payne and its sequel Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne. Featuring a moody, bitter tale of a hardboiled detective forever pushed into greater misery and destruction combined with intense “bullet-time” gunplay, Max Payne is high octane in both its action and story. Since then, the studio flexed more of its narrative strength with Alan Wake and most recently Alan Wake II, but still delivered intense action experiences like 2019’s Control. With a remake of the first two Max Payne games on the way, Remedy is set to return to its roots, but one has to wonder what these games will even look like in the 2020s.
How modern will the Max Payne remakes feel?
While Control didn’t feature the same bullet-time mechanics Max Payne is known for, that didn’t stop it from delivering a wild ride with intense, gravity-defying shootouts, an impressive physics simulation, and interesting, puzzle-like challenges rather than merely asking the player to aim and pull the trigger for hours at a time.
While Rockstar’s Max Payne 3 offered a shooter experience more resonant with contemporary third-person shooters—witness its tighter, “over-the-shoulder” aiming and cover mechanics, for example—the older games, having been released in 2001 and 2003, were uninfluenced by the trends established by Gears of War and Resident Evil 4 later in the decade.
Despite the role of hallucinations and dream sequences, Max Payne also features more of a grounded, realistic setting than the Twin Peaks and X-Files-inspired fantasy world of Control and Alan Wake. I don’t think we’ll be seeing Max Payne fly around like Jesse Faden in Control, but with advances in physics simulation and standards for third-person action a bit different than what they were in the 2000s—and with the Max Payne remakes reportedly using the same game engine as Control—there’s some great opportunity for the Max Payne remakes to present an action experience that’s more than just a tribute to the days of yore.
Enter the RemedyVerse
Control also presented another twist for fans of Remedy games: the revelation that the studio has merged the worlds of its various games into a larger “Remedy Connected Universe” (sometimes called the RemedyVerse). This has been exciting for fans, especially as the connections often leave a lot up to the imagination. Alan Wake II notably does this with the presence of a certain complicated detective who bears a striking resemblance to Payne, as well as gameplay sequences that feature environments very similar to Payne’s first adventure.
But given that Max Payne’s original publisher Rockstar Games has since taken over the IP, one has to wonder if or how Remedy will (or perhaps won’t) work with these remakes in the greater context of its “metatextual” universe—especially considering Alan Wake II’s Alex Casey character, who is both voiced by Max Payne’s original voice actor and plays a very similar role as the grizzled detective in that new game’s narrative.
The Max Payne remake project does involve Rockstar Games, but it’s hard to believe we’ll hear names like the “Federal Bureau of Control” or “Bright Falls” in these remakes. Still, if Alan Wake II is anything to go by, Remedy is more than up to the task of making fascinating connections to its other games without naming them explicitly.
The first two Max Paynes are still some of the coolest action games you can play, so well worth revisiting. But with the remakes on the distant horizon, I could understand would-be players wanting to wait, as it’s always exciting to see what Remedy, a reliably capable studio, can pull off with the latest technology.
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