The Man Formerly Known as Max Payne

Another post from Kotaku. This one was kickstarted by the appearance of two new screenshots from Max Payne 3, which brought up old feelings I'd forgotten I had.

Until proven otherwise, I maintain, with every breath in my body, that this is not a Max Payne game, in much the same way that Conviction could be thought of as not being a Splinter Cell game (that's a rant for another day though).

Oh sure, it may bear the name of Max Payne, but if the gameplay is completely different (one of the developers mentioned a cover system), the plot is completely different (it's taking place in São Paulo, as opposed to New York), the lead character is completely different (Max is now fat, bald and bearded, and not voiced by James McCaffrey) and the developers are completely different (Rockstar Vienna/Vancouver as opposed to Remedy Entertainment), then it's a completely different game.

Call it a Max Payne game if you want, but that's nothing more than a lie. This is not a sequel, it's an original game in an established franchise. It's the Halloween 3 of gaming, and until Rockstar realize that Halloween 3 failed for a reason, the game is most likely doomed.

I brought up Splinter Cell Conviction earlier, and I'll bring it up again. Conviction is a Splinter Cell game in name only. The gameplay, possibly the most important thing in a game, is so radically different from the rest of the Splinter Cell series that it hardly bears any resemblance to it at all. The originals were slow paced, stealthy games. Conviction is most definitely not. I'm not saying Conviction is a bad game, but it just doesn't feel like a Splinter Cell game.

That last sentence is also my defense at other franchises where 'everything is different'. Bioshock 2, for example, had different developers and a different lead character, but because it took place in the same city (albeit areas we hadn't seen before), had some of the same characters (Little Sisters, Tenenbaum, Andrew Ryan and Fontaine, even if the last two were just through audio logs) and recreated the feel of the original game so well, it didn't matter if things were a little different. It felt like a worthy sequel.

Fallout 3 and New Vegas are another set of sequels you could say goes counter to my argument, but again, for everything that's different, there's a counterargument that says otherwise. The Fallout series has gone through several different styles (pre Fallout 3, there were the original 2 games, plus Tactics and Brotherhood of Steel), so why should a change to an FPS be any different? And despite them being a lot like Oblivion, there's enough changes and hangovers from the earlier games to make the two games feel like Fallout. The settings were well realized, the stories was appropriate and at times felt like a callback to the first games, the characters were well characterized and compelling... They really did feel like Fallout games.

The fact that something is by a different developer doesn't automatically make a new game in a franchise a bad thing, but when they change every little thing about a game, then you have cause for concern. And that's my problem with Max Payne 3. They've changed everything. That's why I don't think of it as a true Max Payne sequel, and why many others feel the same.

Maybe if Rockstar realize this and make Max look like... well, MAX, we might be more forgiving. As it stands, he just looks like someone from Kane and Lynch, which I think says it all!

No comments:

Post a Comment