Last week, Rockstar Games released its most gripping trailer yet for its upcoming bullet-stravaganza Max Payne 3, and while it certainly wowed us with its cinematic presentation and fluid depiction of insane levels of action, we wanted to find out a bit more about the factors at play in the trailer, as well as what it might tell us about Max's toughest assignment to date. So we shot some questions to Rockstar art director Rob Nelson who fired back with some insightful answers presented below for your reading pleasure.
What can you tell us about what’s being shown off in the new story trailer? What’s the setup?
This trailer focuses on Max’s personal motivations, while revealing a bit more about the events that trigger the story of Max Payne 3. The bulk of the game takes place in São Paulo where Max is working executive security for Rodrigo Branco, a successful businessman, and his two brothers, Marcelo and Victor - all members of São Paulo's wealthy upper class. When Rodrigo’s beautiful trophy wife, Fabiana is kidnapped while under Max's protection, Max fights to find out who’s behind the kidnapping and in the process, becomes involved in something much larger. São Paulo is a dangerous city and with Favela gangs, paramilitary outfits, and corrupt police forces as potential suspects, it quickly becomes clear that things are much more complicated than they seem, and Max can't be sure who to trust.
What were the big elements you really wanted to get across in the latest trailer? Should viewers keep an eye out for any hidden/especially telling details?
RN: We wanted to convey a sense of desperation and intrigue that is all too familiar for Max. One of the themes of the Max Payne series is the idea that Max is often in over his head, outnumbered and outwitted by unseen forces, and Max alone, looking for answers on the streets of an unfamiliar city, perfectly plays into the atmosphere and themes of the original games.
One obvious thing to notice are the many different looks to Max in the trailer, as his appearance changes throughout the story. It reflects not only the progression of the narrative but also Max's mental state. By the time Max decides to shave his head, he is ready to take the fight to his enemies, and feels like this is one way of preparing for the fight that is to come.
On the technical side, viewers may also notice some stylized post-processing effects, both during the in-game footage and the title slides. These effects are carried over into the game itself, and are present in certain moments both in real-time during gameplay and cut-scenes - and in both single and multiplayer.
Who are some of the new characters we’re being introduced to in the new trailer, and what are their connections to Max?
RN: We’re introducing some of the main supporting characters in Max Payne 3 that viewers may have only caught a glimpse of in our previous trailers. The Branco family is comprised of three brothers. Rodrigo, the eldest, is a powerful businessman and real estate mogul. The middle brother, Victor, is a local politician, and the youngest, Marcelo, is a party-loving, euro trash playboy. Rodrigo’s trophy wife, Fabiana Branco, is obviously stunning, and her lavish lifestyle makes it easy for trouble to find her. Max gets connected to the Brancos by Raul Passos, a long forgotten colleague from the NYPD. Passos has convinced Max to leave New York and work as a private security guard for the family, which is an opportunity for Max, who's spent years trying to drown his own memories with booze and painkillers, to try and leave a lot of his problems behind. Since Fabiana is kidnapped on Max’s watch, Max is suddenly forced to re-live the events of his tragic past and so sets about trying to make things right for the Brancos in a way he never could for his own family.
How has Rockstar approached the melding of narrative and gameplay for MP3? Aside from wardrobe changes, how will the story influence how players engage with the game world and vice versa?
RN: Our goal with Max Payne 3 has always been to create the most sophisticated, cinematic action-shooter we could possibly make, and that has implications for every aspect of game design, from the way we implemented elements like Bullet Time, to the themes of the story, to the way the whole experience is presented. The Max Payne series has always had powerful storytelling thanks to the use of the graphic novel cutscenes and Max’s internal monologue, but we are using those things differently in Max Payne 3. We are using motion-comic style cutscenes blended with traditional in-game cutscenes to push the story forward, and James McCaffrey is now not only reprising his amazing voice work but he’s also doing most of the motion capture and a lot of the stunts to create the character of Max. We are working with a much more advanced set of tools than what was possible for the original games in order to blur the line between cutscenes and gameplay into one non-stop experience.
From what we’ve seen so far, MP3 is set over a good chunk of Max’s life. How much, if any, of the events of Max Payne and Max Payne 2 will find their way into MP3? And do any of those events influence Max’s exploits this time around?
RN: Without giving away too much, the game mostly takes place in São Paulo, with events taking place outside the city revealed as Max's memories of the events that got him there. Leaving New York is a great opportunity to leave those things behind, but the same problems he faced in New York quickly find him in São Paulo. Max's past is a shadow that constantly haunts him, wherever he goes.