In less than two months, Max Payne will finally end his eight-year hiatus, making a multiplatform comeback that promises to update his groundbreaking, shootdodging action while still retaining the things that made the Max Payne series special. So far, we’ve seen the “new” Max fight through the streets of Sao Paolo with slickly realistic animation and his characteristic, Hong Kong-action-movie-inspired flair, but more than anything else we’ve seen a lot of awesome-looking, slow-motion gun-porn. This is a game that repeatedly reminds us, through meticulous attention to detail and dramatic bullet-time close-ups, just how important firearms are to its gameplay and overall character. So to get a more detailed idea of just what those firearms will offer, we caught up with Rockstar’s VP of product development, Jeronimo Barrera, for a quick chat about what to expect.
GamesRadar: In designing the weapons, how close to reality are you trying to make them, and what kind of research goes into creating them?
Jeronimo Barrera: We work hard on nailing the tiniest details across all our titles. For the weapons, that means we spent a lot of time getting the mechanics and feel of each gun just right. We looked at a lot of Brazilian-manufactured guns for inspiration, but in general we tried to create weapons that felt right for the new setting and circumstances that Max finds himself in. There’s also a certain element of balancing we have to account for, so we take some liberties in order to avoid a “one gun rules all” mentality. In addition to balancing weapons against each other, we also have to balance them against the enemy AI. Each encounter needs to be properly tuned. We don’t want to give Max the best available weapons right from the get-go!
GR: About how many different kinds of weapons can we expect to see Max wield this time around?
JB: We’ve included a great variety of firearms and explosives for Max to wield. Each player will have a slightly different play style, so it was important for us to include a good mix of weapons across multiple categories to provide options and choices. There’s always the hardcore fan who will want to play the entire game using nothing but pistols, but we make sure to add shotguns, assault rifles, submachine guns, and various explosive devices to satisfy the needs of varying styles and situations.
GR: What about the weapons in Max Payne 3 makes them particularly special? What about them made you want to include them?
JB: We looked at a lot of Brazilian-manufactured guns as inspiration for the game. We noticed certain weapons showing up in photos time and again during our research of the city and its various factions. Both the drug trade and police force in Brazil have specific preferences for shotguns and assault rifles to a point where those weapons have become wholly associated with their respective factions. This information helped us make some small tweaks to Max’s classic arsenal, and players will notice some subtle differences in the weapons Max has access to from the original games. With that in mind, we made sure to include some classic Max favorites from the original games, such as the sawed-off shotgun and fully automatic SMGs.
GR: Are there any weapons not based in reality? Will there be any secret weapons hidden in the game?
JB: For Max Payne 3, we wanted Max to feel like a real person in a real place. To that end, players should feel like they’re right there alongside Max every step of the way. We didn’t want to break that illusion by introducing weapons so outlandish that they would break the immersion. The short answer is no, we don’t have any over-the-top, sci-fi-inspired weapons.
GR: Do you see the guns as being an influence on, or an integral part of, Max’s personality and character?
JB: Well, Max is a very interesting character, and unlike most protagonists, has dealt with a lot of tragedy and failure in his life. That’s part of the reason fans fell in love with him in the first place. He’s complex, disturbed, and has a hard-boiled cynicism to him. Many fans have the classic Max Payne image ingrained in their minds of him in a black trenchcoat, two pistols blazing. The twin-pistol look is very iconic, but I wouldn’t say it influences or defines Max as a character. He is a man who communicates to the world through his weaponry, so his guns are definitely an integral part of the relationship between the player and the environment.
GR: How many guns will Max be able to carry at a time?
JB: Max can carry three weapons at a time. He can carry and dual-wield any combination of two single-handed weapons such as pistols and SMGs, and also carry a larger two-handed weapon in his off-hand such as an assault rifle or a shotgun. This helps us keep the Hong Kong action-movie atmosphere, as Max stylishly discards empty weapons and picks up new ones without breaking his flow of movement through the environment.
In addition, players will see each weapon represented physically on Max’s person, regardless of whether they’re playing the level in real time or watching a cutscene. This adds to the level of realism, and we've created cool custom animations for each scenario, such as smoothly reloading an SMG while Max carries a rifle in his off-hand by hitching the rifle up under his arm for balance.