|Developer(s):|| Remedy Entertainment (2001-2003)|
Rockstar Vancouver (2004-2012)
Rockstar New England
|First release:|| Max Payne|
July 23, 2001
|Latest release:|| Max Payne 3|
15-31 May, 2012
Max Payne is a series of third-person shooter videogames and a franchise of third-person action games, owned by Rockstar Games. The first two games were developed by the third-party company Remedy Entertainment, with Rockstar being the franchise's publishers; the third, and so far, last game in the series was developed by Rockstar's own studio, Rockstar Vancouver.
The franchise is well-known for its shooter gameplay and complex storylines in a film noir style. The different premises follow the life of the titular protagonist, Max Payne, a man with a history full of tragedies.
The franchise enjoys critical acclaim from reviewers, with each of its main games holds scores of high 80s on MetaCritic. The games, however, had moderated commercial success, despite managing to sell more than 7.5 million copies since the release of the first title.
The Max Payne games are presented from a third-person view, and focus on heavy gunfights and shootouts, with the player being able to hold several weapons from various classes, including handguns, sub-machine guns, assault rifles and shotguns. The first two games allowed the player to hold several weapons at the same time, while Max Payne 3 allowed to hold only two 'light' guns and one 'heavy' weapon at the same time.
In the original game and Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne, Max' story was presented with dark comic-like cutscenes, featuring still images and dialogues; the second game also featured several animated cutscenes. The third game, however, presented mostly animated cutscenes using Rockstar's RAGE engine, as well as several 'motion-comic' moments.
A key feature in the franchise's gameplay is the 'Bullet-time'; influenced by 1990's The Matrix, Bullet-time allows the player to slow down time, which in return allows the player to increase aim and reaction time. Bullet-time is limited, and its 'meter' can be filled by shooting down AI enemies. The player themselves can fill their health again by consuming pain-killers found in various places.
The story of the original Max Payne from 2001 follows Max Payne, a former NYPD detective, as he hunts down the masterminds behind the slaughter of Payne's wife and daughter, whom he failed to rescue during an attack on their residence, three years prior to the game's main part. He soon finds himself in the center of an all-out war between several factions, including the Russian Mafia, the Italian Punchinello crime family, the Aesir Corporation, and the 'Inner Circle', a secret society in the city of New York.
The story of Max Payne 2 is set two years following the events of the original game; Max has restored his rank as a detective in New York, but is forced into a disasterous gangs war between Payne's allies, the Russian Mafia, and what remained from the Punchinellos, while a group of hired guns, posing as a cleaning compnay, hunts both the Punchinellos and certain members of the Inner Circle. Max, once again, has to stand against all odds, while facing the deaths of many of his friends and allies.
Max Payne 3 follows the (currently) final chapter in Payne's life, nine years after Max Payne 2. Max, now retired from the police force and abuses alcohol and pain-killers, receives an offer to work as a bodyguard for a wealthy family in Sao Paulo, Brazil - to which he accepts. Despite a new beginning, Max is thrown yet again to the criminal underworld, now all by himself far away from home.
- Max Payne 3 comic series (2012)
The Max Payne franchise was met with high acclaim, with multiple critics praising the games' story, lead characters, atmosphere and gameplay. Criticism is often directed at some of the games' low replay value, especially at the second title.
The 2001 Max Payne was released to critical acclaim, with its PC version holding a score of 89/100 on Metacritic, which also makes it the highest-rated title in the franchise. Several features in the game were highly acclaimed, including the game's innovative 'Bullet-time' abillity and flexible shooting mechanics. Its story, artwork design and overall presentation were also praised. The game was criticized, however, for its rather low replay value and character models.
The 2003 Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne 2 was released to highly positive critical reception; it is overall seen as superior to its predecessor, despite holding a score of 86/100 on Metacritic, making it the lowest rated game in the franchise. The game's gameplay was highly acclaimed as was with the first title. Similarly, the sequel's story and themes were also praised. The game's length, however, received heavy criticism.
The 2012 Max Payne 3 was released to near-critical acclaim, holding a score of 87/100 on Metacritic. The title's visuals and gameplay were praised, although the game's more limited movement than both its predecessors drew some criticism. The game's story, pacing and presentation received a more divided response from critics.
- Main article: Max Payne (film)
In 2008, a film based on the series was released on the 17th of October, directed by John Moore. The titular protagonist was played by Mark Wahlherg.