216: Slower Than a Speeding Bullet

Slower Than a Speeding Bullet

It's been over eight years since Max Payne hit store shelves, but game developers haven't stopped imitating Remedy's take on cinematic gunplay. What's so special about Bullet Time, anyway? Jordan Deam looks at Max Payne's oft-copied game mechanic and what made us fall in love with it in the first place.

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Despite all it's criticism as of late, I'm glad that there are still some people out there who hold some optimism for slow-mo. Truth be told, bullet time is still being used for innovative purposes (one of the levels in Braid is a perfect example of this.)

This article is a brilliant and nostalgic look at bullet time in video games. Bravo Mr. Deam!

The only important point not delved into in this article is that no game has managed to capture the feeling discussed throughout. Only Stranglehold has come close but that game featured much more open environments and the level design wasn't quite as good as Max's either.

What I appreciated about Bullet Time in Max Payne is that it was a way of making gameplay easier for the player, while at the same time boosting the player's ego.

Normally, scaling down game difficulty is a downer: You feel like a noob because you can't handle the game's normal challenge. Think about how people react to pausing or slowing real-time strategy games. Or think about how you'd feel if a shooter simply offered unlimited bullet time "slow-mo" mode: You'd feel like a chump for playing it that way.

Max Payne made me feel AWESOME for playing in Bullet Time. Never has shooting slow-moving, easy to kill targets been such an ego boost.

Bullet Time. Ah, the memories. Sure, it makes no logical sense (besides the psuedo-mental superiority explanation), but it sure is fun. I think, even more than Max Paine, the Half Life 2 mod SMOD might be the best implementation of it I've yet to see. Of course, it helps that your enemies have a huge advantage over you in regular combat, thanks to the mod's balancing system. Still, shooting two Combine soldiers in the head and kicking the third across the room in slow-motion never gets old.

I loved Max Payne and bullet time was huge part of that, jumping round a corner while blasting away all in glorious slow mo, ahh memories...

Shooting bad guys while they can't shoot you? I don't see the problem here.

there are some things that make bullet time games awesome: casings go from the realistic position, visible bullets, animated recoil, guys that have physics, blood spraying and animated muzzleflashes. those(if i remember correctly) were trademarks of max paynem but in MP2 there were weapons with animations left out, but none of them had the things that would make for epic awesomness: bullets that stay where they stoped, animated (seethrough) bulletholes with simulation of dust, glass physics, realistic muzzleflashes(that hollywood sh!t is all blank ammo), ad injuries from bullets with blood flow simulation. Also I hate when you shoot a guy dead to head and he mekes a sound like his brain functioned(and in buggy brutal games when you shoot the head off)

I really hope Bullet Time is kept alive in Max Payne 3. I (Take a guess with my avatar) am a huge Rockstar/Max Payne fan. Other games have tried to use Bullet Time but none have come close to how perfect Max Payne uses it. The original Max Payne in my opinion is one of the best third person games ever. Second place goes to Max Payne 2. :P

I recently played the demo for Wet which pretty much does everything in it's power to make bullet time feel un-special. Every time you jump, slide all wall run the game goes slow-mo to allow you to line up your cross-hair on the next unfortunate mobster, this would be almost acceptable if you didn't have to enter to bullet time to realistically get a kill. The camera's so far back, the cross-hair so small you find yourself sliding constantly just to get a hit. Also being far back you don't get to see the impact of your shots just a flash of red and then you have to move on to the next one. It's amazing how in a decade Wet has managed to remove everything cool and interesting you outlined about bullet time, it's just become another tool to be used by the gamer no different from a pistol.

Archon:
What I appreciated about Bullet Time in Max Payne is that it was a way of making gameplay easier for the player, while at the same time boosting the player's ego.

Normally, scaling down game difficulty is a downer: You feel like a noob because you can't handle the game's normal challenge. Think about how people react to pausing or slowing real-time strategy games. Or think about how you'd feel if a shooter simply offered unlimited bullet time "slow-mo" mode: You'd feel like a chump for playing it that way.

Max Payne made me feel AWESOME for playing in Bullet Time. Never has shooting slow-moving, easy to kill targets been such an ego boost.

So very true, a game that puts you down for sucking at it and then compensates by making it easier for you so blatantly, im looking at you Splosion Man, really kills the vibe you had going. If the game insist on doing, please let it be oh so stylishly as Max Payne.

I've always enjoyed bullet time in games that have done it well. Its presence in FEAR didn't help me all that much, but in Wanted: Weapons of Fate, it definitely helped me pick off any remaining baddies.

And nice reference to Time Warp; it's an impressive show.

Archon:
Max Payne made me feel AWESOME for playing in Bullet Time. Never has shooting slow-moving, easy to kill targets been such an ego boost.

Absolutely right. It's great how well it worked in Max Payne but also really sad that Bullet Time has to be the one big selling point for games like Stranglehold.

It was fun - to certain a degree. But if the whole game is built upon bullet time it wont make you feel awesome anymore. You will get used to it very soon.

That's where Max Payne really stands out after all those years: Bullet Time is an integral part of the game but there are hardly any situations in which you really have to use it. It's up to you when and how you use it - and the article points that out really well.

Happy to see the "after all, it's a gameplay mechanic" point on page three. I missed it a bit because I think the guys at Remedy put Bullet Time into the game because it was cool - rather than suggest a mental state of the protagonist. That's what the drug sequences were put in for I guess - they really built up the atmosphere and character of the games, loved them.

Btw, wouldn't that be an interesting escapist topic? "Drugs in videogames". Think of Max Payne, American McGees Alice - or last years discussion about the aussie requirements for a "clean" Fallout 3.

A while ago I got kinda angry when some guys were saying that Max Payne is just "a generic bullet-time shooter", and completely forgetting that it was one of the first games that did it.

On a side note those games are really close to my heart because of their awesome gameplay and plot. I don't know what to think about Max Payne 3 though.

 

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