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Preview: Max Payne

Max Payne was an ordinary cop until three years ago, when his family was brutally murdered by the New York Mafia. Going undercover as a DEA agent, Max was getting close to the source of a new deadly drug, Valkyr, when his superior officer (and best friend) was brutally slain; the blame was pinned on Max who has to fight the mafia and avoid his finger-pointing former comrades.

Max Payne is a story-driven third-person action game with Film Noir themes that follow a lone man's gritty descent to the violent night of New York City, from graffiti-scarred alleys and cockroach crawling hotel rooms to sleek and sexy skyscraper heights; the wail of police sirens are constant and a restless echo stirs in the darkness.

Max Payne will sport a custom-designed engine, capable of dynamic radiosity lighting, particle systems, and realistic character movement; this means that all characters will be lit dynamically by local light sources, giving them an eerie sense of realism as their animation punctuates superb motion capture. This means, of course, that the game will require a 3D Accelerator; the Max engine only draws what you can see, and nothing more. Say you somersault past a corridor—the engine will have only rendered what is in your line of sight, drastically reducing the load on your graphics architecture.

Max will fight in several locations, ranging from subway stations, slums, and crack houses, to the penthouses, where gangland bosses lie in wait.  All weapons are created in realistic detail, with empty brass casings ejected exactly as in real life.  Ballistics are calculated as closely as possible to real-world speed with authentic ricochet angles and gravitational effect.  And Max Payne’s particle systems are among the most advanced in the industry; muzzle flashes, fire, and smoke are fully volumetric. 

In Max Payne, your character will reflect the damage imposed upon him, limping and holding damaged body parts. There is also a quasi-realistic damage system in place, so damage to certain locations will do much more damage than to others. Get shot in the head and its game over.  Look for gameplay to echo a combination of John Woo and the Wachowski brothers—lots of exotic moves and plenty of slo-mo.  In addition, Remedy has decided to display no less than 80 comic-style story panels to eliminate the boredom of level loading. This not only occupies your time, but it also provides a contiguous storyline that is less intrusive and bulky than an FMV.

By adopting a movie-enhanced storyline and a third-person perspective, Remedy is doing something that has never really been attempted before.  With a release date of “When it’s Done”, Max Payne looks and superb and should be a major success when finally released.

 --Al Wildey