Remedy Entertainment and Max Payne are together again and the reunion arrives in the form of a complete remake of the first two action games in the series.
The news arrived on Wednesday in the form of a press release signed by Remedy, the creators of the series, and Rockstar Games, the franchise’s current rights holder after the licensing passed between the companies in the early years. 2000. The two companies entered into a publishing partnership that will see Rockstar fund a remaster of Max Payne and Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne as a combined game package.
Both games will be remade using Remedy’s proprietary Northlight game engine, which was most recently used in Ars Technica’s 2019 Game of the Year. Control. In addition to a PC launch, the resulting two-game package will be a current-gen console exclusive to Xbox Series X/S and PlayStation 5. That means the game could possibly flex the same ray-tracing muscles as those of 2021. Control Ultimate Edition, also a current-gen exclusive. No date for the game has been announced, and “the project is currently in the concept development stage,” according to the press release.
A new deal to numb the elderly Paynes
Coincidentally, this news comes on top of Remedy’s existing publishing deal with Epic Games. This agreement guarantees that Epic and Remedy will work together to launch two cross-platform games “in the same franchise”: “One game will be triple-A in scope and the other will be smaller. No date for either Epic-related games have not been fixed since that March 2020 announcement, and neither company has clarified whether the franchise in question is new or based on an existing Remedy IP like Alan Wake.
Remedy has not announced any target storefront for the PC version of its Max Payne remasters. Based on Rockstar’s recent track record, the game will likely appear on the Rockstar Games Launcher as at least an option, if not an exclusive. (We hope Remedy steers this project in a better direction than another recent Rockstar remaster debacle.)
The last time Remedy officially spoke about his relationship with Max Payne was in 2018 during the preparation of Controllaunch 2019. Head of studio and Payne co-creator Sam Lake has confirmed that the show’s re-licensing in the early 2000s meant that Max Payne 2 was the last game Rockstar wanted Remedy to ship. Almost a decade later, Rockstar has continued to produce Max pay 3 as an in-house project with a decidedly different scope (although this third game at least retained Payne’s original voice actor).
As I wrote in a 2012 review of Max pay 3 for the now defunct iPad-only magazine The Daily:
At times, the game unleashes Rockstar’s knack for convincing characters, but for the most part these have been swept aside to make way for a criss-crossing of crime syndicates and rogue cops. This plot will not generate a second part; neither is replay mode with more points nor a middling version of online multiplayer. That being said, the set pieces, shootout choreography, and satisfying gunplay make this one of the best story-based single-player games in the industry for quite some time, and the plot and dialogue are far from rubbish. Still, the way Rockstar stretched a 2-hour storyline onto a 10-hour journey shows one thing: linear material isn’t Rockstar’s bag yet.
This came after Rockstar’s pitiful attempt in 2008 to transform Max Payne in a Hollywood franchise. Mark Wahlberg’s vehicle remains one of Rotten Tomatoes’ worst-performing films of all time.
Remedy has yet to say if either game’s gameplay or dialogue will be overhauled in any way to align with modern expectations. Although the two original Max Payne the games remain beloved as relics of the PlayStation 2 era – with tough dialogue and their use of a still-new “bullet time” mechanic taken from movies like The matrix– other third-person action games have surpassed these standards in the decades since.