Rockstar seem to have some big ambitions for Max Payne 3, their third-person shooter sequel. In fact, according to art director Rob Nelson, the game should set “a new benchmark for sophistication” within the genre. That’s a big claim. So how does the team aim to achieve this?
Primarily through a combination of Bullet Time – the series’ famed time-slowing mechanic – and character development, it would seem. It’s sophisticated in both a narrative and action sense.
“Much like the originals, Max Payne 3 is about combining groundbreaking action with powerful characterisation in a way that feels completely fresh and new,” explained Nelson.
“A massive part of this in all three games is the concept of Bullet Time: the choreography of shooting and manipulating time to create the most precise, action-packed gunplay possible. We want players to get a sensation of placing and reacting to every single bullet with precision and style and getting to savor the results.”
Nelson explained that all the signature Bullet Time moves are back, so Max Payne will once again be diving and rolling all over the place while the world slows around him. But the detail has been increased, and the complexity of the system has been ramped up. It’s due to a combination of Rockstar’s RAGE engine and various animation tools – they’ll make the protagonist react to the world around him realistically, and within the player’s control, Nelson revealed in an interview with IGN.
“The player has an amazing amount of control over the player when running and targeting,” he said, adding that every bullet is individually modeled with dynamic hit-registering, and every gun is modelled as accurately as possible.
There’ll even be some new Bullet Time features added to Max Payne – stuff that the team at Rockstar aren’t quite ready to talk about yet.
“Our goal is to set a new benchmark for sophistication and feel in a third-person shooter,” said Nelson. “We’ve really tried to make the experience as intense and focused as possible.”
Max Payne 3 will be released for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC in March 2012 – a move which surprised some, given Rockstar’s tendency to release major games in May.