Today Remedy Entertainment announced that it is returning to the Max Payne franchise. The studio said it will be partnering with Rockstar Games, which currently holds the rights to the character and franchise, to remake 2001’s Max Payne and its 2003 sequel Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne.
“Max Payne has always held a special place in the hearts of everyone at Remedy, and we know the millions of fans worldwide feel the same,” said Remedy CEO Tero Virtala in a news release. “We’re hugely excited to be working with our partners at Rockstar Games once again for the chance to bring the story, action and atmosphere of the original Max Payne games back to players in new ways.”
The original Max Payne was published by the now defunct Gathering of Developers and released not long after The Matrix hit theaters, just in time to capitalize on a zeitgeist infatuated with slow motion gun violence, as well as the grimy late 20th century neo noir that was becoming in fashion in action movies.
That being said, Max Payne is its own thing, with its ultra-melodramatic noir energy, comic book-style cutscenes and James McCaffrey delivering some of the best voiceover work in all of videogames, even when he’s asked to read out some of the most mind-bending purple prose narration ever.
The breakthrough success of the game led to Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne. The sequel was published by Rockstar Games after its parent organization Take-Two Interactive acquired the franchise in a cash and stock deal with Remedy and development partner 3D realms.
Several years later, Rockstar Games developed and released Max Payne 3, featuring a very different looking Max who was drunk, dazed, confused and out of his element in São Paulo, Brazil. Although that game received positive reviews, critics and players were divided in the change in style and setting. It sold well but apparently not enough by Rockstar standards to warrant any announcement of a Max Payne 4.
According to the news release, the remake project for both classic Max Payne games will launch as a single stand-alone release on the latest generation of consoles with a budget similar to other AAA projects from Remedy. The developer will be using the Northlight engine, the same technology that powered Control and Quantum Break.
I’m also speculating that there’s a non-zero chance that James McCaffrey may return to provide his inimitable voice to the character, over two decades later. Even after losing the rights to work on Max Payne, Remedy has maintained a working relationship with the actor, who appears in Alan Wake and Control.
No insight has been provided yet for when the remakes might release, other than the fact that it is in the “concept development stage.”
While this is exciting news for literally me, it’s important to remember that Rockstar’s necessary involvement in the remake project requires us to wonder whether the company will delist the original Max Payne games from digital platforms like the Microsoft Store or Steam, thanks to similar actions following the GTA remake.
My hope is that after the remakes launch, we can still acquire Max Payne in his original low resolution Sam Lake with a weird squint and grimace face.