The new look for the titular ex-cop covers more than just his head.
In the original game, Max Payne was a hard-boiled NYPD Detective with a cute family. The sequel still featured gritty New York streets this time with a Max sans family grappling with the Russian mafia. After a lackluster film, Rockstar Games took over the franchise from Remedy Entertainment and it looks like the Max Payne gamers were first introduced to in 2001 is in a much different place - Sau Paulo, Brazil - for Max Payne 3. So much different, in fact, that he has to shave his head to deal with the kidnapping of a girl he was hired to protect.
This first trailer from Rockstar explains some of the questions fans had regarding the main character. Max washes up in Brazil after what seems like a long bender with the drink. Max gulps liquor from the bottle wearing a dirty wife-beater. Some contacts of his put forth his name to work on a security detail, and he cleans up well enough to get the job. Then "all hell breaks loose" as Hell is wont to do, and Max gets serious. Cue the buzz of the electric razor, and Max Payne gives himself a quick haircut and picks up an automatic weapon or two.
"This was a hell of a hangover," says voice actor James McCaffrey reprising the role from the previous two games.
The instantly recognizable theme music (played with strings this time) and McCaffrey are the two touchpoints, but the Max Payne 3 seems more versed in action rather than noir. Rockstar's version of Max seems both darker and brighter, with the ex-cop truly fallen to rock bottom incongruously set in a sunny environment. I also wonder if Rockstar will abandon the linear shooter gameplay of the originals for more of an open-world game that's their style.
The news cycle for this game is just beginning and we will undoubtedly learn more as details are eked out over the next six months or so until this game releases. Rockstar announced the release date of March 2012 on PS3, Xbox 360 and PC, but I wouldn't be surprised if that date gets pushed back a few months.
Breathing life back into a character as well-known as Max Payne takes time, after all.