Max Payne 3 turned nine years old yesterday. That means the game has been with us for almost a decade now! Many fans around the world cherish fond memories of playing it or loathe the massive changes Rockstar games applied to their beloved character. Either way, there’s no denying with Max Payne 3 Rockstar Games attempted to evolve the modern shooter through innovations in animation, AI, gameplay, and through enhancements in Max’s signature Bullet-time. To celebrate the ninth anniversary, I thought it would be cool to share some of the lesser-known facts about the game with the community.
Some of those have only come to light in the last recent years! So there’s a fat chance (hopefully) you’ve never even heard of some of these. This list was also posted on Twitter yesterday, but I figured listing them here would allow me to go into more detail as I’m not limited by 140 characters. So without further ado, here are ten things you probably didn’t know about Max Payne 3!
01. Max Payne 3 could’ve taken place in Russia
It’s no secret that Max Payne 3 went through several redesigns during its lengthy development. Although primarily developed by Rockstar Games Vancouver, the project would later be co-developed by various Rockstar Studios around the globe. Allegedly, one of the earliest pitches for Max Payne 3 originated from the now-defunct Rockstar Games Vienna. Lead concept artist Johannes Mucke included concept art in his portfolio that was created in 2006. When asked about the art Mucke commented this was one of the first pieces they created to pitch Max Payne 3 and that it would take place in Russia. Next to Max, the concept art also displays three other characters that could very well have been the mob bosses Max would’ve been pit against. We’ll probably never know.
02. Max could’ve looked very different
Max going bald in Max Payne 3 has been a hot topic of debate among fans. Whether you think it does the story and character justice will surely remain to be discussed until the end of time. However, before Rockstar Games settled on Max’s bearded and bald look, the studio experimented with various other designs. In Max Payne 3: The Complete Series, a hard-cover bundle, containing all the prequel comics, concept art is shown in which various iterations of the character are shown. In addition, character renders by Jason Fry (who was the Art Director on Max Payne 3) reveal Max’s look before James McCaffrey was cast. In the renders, we can see various renditions of the concept art come to life.
03. Some levels changed drastically over time
Now, this is a bit of a tough one. As the game evolved, surely the levels must have as well. There’s not much known about these changes and much of the concept art made available to the public seems to reflect the final levels in the game. However, some members of the community have once again stumbled upon portfolio pages that seem to reveal just a wee bit more. Ben Steven’s his ArtStation page shows some of the work he has done for Max Payne 3. It’s here we see screenshots of a Hoboken train terminal (this level probably was cut), a different version of the Morgue, the Extremist’s apartment and the club found deep in the Nova Esperança favela. Why these levels were either cut or changed remains unknown.
04. Other levels were cut before production
The Hoboken train terminal wasn’t the only level that didn’t make the cut. But in contrast to the train terminal, the following didn’t even make the production stages. As is common in game development, before a level is fully developed, the artist first creates a rough layout. These ”blockouts” as they are called, are meant to make an idea or concept visible. Andres Rovin, the Senior Environment Artist on Max Payne 3, shared some of these blockouts on his portfolio page. The Bus Station level blockout is instantly recognizable. This level is in the final game and esthetically looks very similar to its blockout. However, also featured on the portfolio is a blockout for a so-called “Drug Lord Level”. This blockout shows something akin to a luxurious garden with a yacht that would lead up to a big mansion. Probably for the game’s finale. I mean, we’re talking about the big bad drug lord’s mansion here!
05. Some artworks are extremely rare to find
Rockstar Games hired various artists (or companies) to create artwork for Max Payne 3. Many of these works have been used in the game’s promotional campaign. However, a few more than others. Some works are so rare that they almost can’t be found. These artworks by Nate Meltzer are of this magnitude. Nate has created some of the most iconic artworks for Rockstar Games’ franchises, including GTA V. The artworks for Max Payne 3 that have been rarely used feature Serano in his favela hideout and Fabiana Branco in the Moderno Nightclub moments before she is abducted.
06. Eight fans got their face in the game
The Max Payne 3 marketing campaign was one of the biggest campaigns Rockstar had done at the time. Various sweepstakes were organized and also some exclusive events. One of these events was a special casting event that allowed up to eight fans to have their face immortalized as multiplayer avatars in DLC.
07. Rockstar considered hiring another actor for Max Payne
Around 2009 when Max Payne 3 was first revealed, videogame magazine GameInformer had the privilege of publishing the first details of the game. In their cover story, they sat down with Art Director Rob Nelson who revealed the studio was looking for a new voice actor for Max. One that would be a better fit now the character looked so different. This statement surprised fans around the world, who vocally objected against this change. When new details about Max Payne 3 were released in late 2011, Rockstar comforted fans it hired James McCaffrey not only to voice Max but also to lend his likeness to the character and to perform the motion capture. A photo of McCaffrey in his mo-cap suit was released at the time but nowadays is extremely hard to find.
08. The many unreleased music tracks
Max Payne’s soundtrack by LA noise band HEALTH has been universally praised. However, before HEALTH was officially signed to score Max Payne 3, Rockstar also considered working with Pedro Bromfman. Bromfman, born and raised in Brazil, is famous for the work he did for Brazillian films like Tropa De Elite. Rockstar Games publicly stated this film served as inspiration for Max Payne 3. While Bromfman contributed various sound effects to the game (and also for its trailers), his portfolio page also features music that was scored to be used in the game. Max’s theme, music for the stadium, dock, Fabricas Branco, and favela levels can all be heard on his site.
The game also features more music than can be heard on its soundtrack compilation. Take this dark rendition of the Max Payne theme, for example, that was used as background music in the game’s multiplayer menu. Another song can be heard during the Fabricas Branco raid.
09. Max’s Hawaiian shirt changed color during production
Unbeknownst to many, Max is an avid wearer of Hawaiian shirts. In the very first Max Payne, he wears an unbuttoned orange Hawaiian shirt. In some of the first promotional screenshots of Max Payne 3, we can see Max once again wearing a Hawaiian shirt, but this time the colors are red and white. In the final game, the shirt is replaced with a more colorful version. The exact reason for this change is unknown, but it might be possible Rockstar created a unique design of their own so it could be used to create merchandise.
10. Unused multiplayer characters
Max Payne 3 was built with the RAGE game engine. That very same engine also powers other Rockstar Games titles such as GTA V and Red Dead Redemption. The communities for the games Rockstar produces are vast and contain some of the brightest players on the planet. Some of these are so skilled they have developed their own tools to open up and pry in the game files. This so-called “data mining” has a proven track record of uncovering secrets about games or revealing leftovers of cut content. As a result of data mining, players have uncovered various character models that are not available in-game. Our best bet is these characters were meant to be multiplayer avatars, but at some moment in time, Rockstar decided not to include them. Among these characters are player models of Captain Baseballbatboy and a version of Max that’s modeled after Timothy Gibbs (the actor that portrayed Max Payne in Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne).
And with that, our top ten list is concluded! I tried my utmost best to list ten topics about the game that are lesser know, so unless you are a die-hard fan, I expect to have surprised many of you. If you made it to the end, I’m curious to know if there were any topics discussed you already knew about. Let me know in the comments below!