The Needles

The Needles
Max Payne 3: No Payne, No Gain

Andy Chalk | 6 Oct 2009 21:00
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So how exactly is this a new Max Payne game, and even more to the point, why? Maybe I'm being premature but I can't stop thinking that Rockstar got it backwards: It's ripped out everything that made the games unique and memorable and left behind only those parts that have, in the six years and counting since the last release, become thoroughly generic. And if that really is the case, then why tack the Max Payne name onto it rather than starting fresh with an all-new character?

It can hardly be a cash-in on the name; saying Max Payne is famous for its narration should in no way be construed as meaning that the games are actually famous. The original was a success but the follow-up, despite being superior in virtually every way, all but killed the franchise. Nor was there a lineup of publishers desperately jockeying for the right to publish a new MP title, a fact attested to by the "creative freedom" afforded Rockstar in this new chapter.

I think the truth is much simpler and also a little sadder: It's a sequel simply because sequels are easier. That may sound flippant but I think that in the final analysis, it's more or less true. The Max Payne license was sitting idle and Rockstar wanted to make a super-violent third-person shooter about a washed-up tough guy living in one of the most violent cities in the world. If you think about it, you can almost hear the "ding!" and see the light bulb going off as some bright fellow decided that this was the perfect opportunity to get two birds stoned at once. Max Payne 3: The "Because We Said So" Sequel.

For the record, I'm not some kind of knee-jerk sequel hater; I'm as hot to trot for Mass Effect 2 as anyone and despite my professed pessimism, I'll probably pick up the new BioShock on release day too. But it seems to me that if we've reached the point at which sequels are being made for no better reason than because it's easier than trying to convince people to throw their money at a new and unknown IP, then we have a rather serious creativity crisis on our hands.

For all I know, Max Payne 3 may be the greatest thing to happen to videogames since Pong, but that's not particularly relevant. What is relevant is that by all appearances, this is a Max Payne game only because the convenient familiarity of the name might help sell a few more copies. In the end, I don't know what's worse: The assumption that gamers will fall for such a transparent ploy or the sad fact that in the end, we probably will.

Andy Chalk isn't sure whether "sequelize" is actually a word, but his spell checker sure doesn't like it.

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