"Euphoria is really helpful in making those situations feel natural, rather than having Max crash into things and ragdoll. We can make it feel like he's anticipating an impact before it happens - that's an exciting thing we're working on. I think Red Dead was a nice evolution from GTA, and Max is going to be the same thing again." Factor in extensive mo-cap and Rockstar's most advanced context-sensitive animation system yet and murder's never looked quite this realistic - or visceral - before.
Bullet Time itself is also undergoing wholesale renovation. It'll be charged by killing, while Max can hold onto three single-handed weapons at once and dual-wield two guns simultaneously. To celebrate the return of Bullet Time, there are now specific set piece sections where everything goes sloooow-mooo without Max's intervention, adding further layers of drama and intensity to the already balls-out blast-outs.
"We've also put a lot of attention on AI reactions, making sure that the force of the bullet feels right," chips in Nelson. "It adds a level of weight and realism to every character, and the beauty of it is we can vary the level of control we have over the system to suit a situation, which really helps us to make it as cinematic as we want to be..."
DUCK 'N' COVER
Then there's cover, another no-brainer considering how much shooters have evolved since Max's debut. Described as "pop out and shoot" in style and augmented by a "wheel-based weapon selection system", it's another indication of how Max Payne is forced to play catch up after a decade out of the game.
We're also curious as to how Max's addiction to painkillers manifests in gameplay, as well as a rumoured day and night cycle. Could some parts of the adventure actually be sandbox, contrary to Rockstar's official stance?
As far as actual missions go, little has been leaked. Rockstar has deigned to show Max in Brazil at a money drop for a kidnapping by the Commando Sombre street gang. Payne, now a merc, is under the employ of a Sao Paulo bigwig named Rodrigo Branco and partnered with a guy called Passos.
Murderising their way through the stadium in search of Branco's errant trophy wife, the choreography is mind-blowing - and more reminiscent of Michael Mann circa 2011 rather than John Woo circa 1992. There's even a nod to the classic Mona Sax-style escort section from Payne 2, as Max protects Passos with a high-powered sniper rifle. Sweet.
John Woo's Stranglehold (in its own way, an earlier attempt at Max Payne 3) promised much, but delivered little. It was a solid shooter, but even back in 2007 cutting-edge visuals allied to Bullet Time resulted in little more than a mediocre slice of entertainment. With seemingly little more on its agenda than beefed-up multiplayer, Max will find the world in 2011 an even more bleak place than it was a decade ago... but if Rockstar have proved anything with GTA IV and Red Dead Redemption, it's their skill at reinvention.
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