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Is Max Payne still Relevant?

As anyone who follows the series has probably heard by now, the release of Max Payne 3 is moving in bullet time. First scheduled for release in 2009, it was pushed back to late 2010, only to be delayed again this week. Take Two Interactive’s June 8 press release said simply, “The launch of Max Payne 3 has been moved out of fiscal 2010.” The subject of the press release was the company’s better-than-expected second quarter earnings, and projections through the end of the fiscal year (October 31), crediting Red Dead Redemption and Grand Theft Auto IV with its success. The former has sold over 5 million copies since its May 18 release. Meanwhile, the company has not yet released any new information on when we will see ol’ Max again.

The question is, will anyone miss him? At the moment, all anyone, including publisher Rockstar Games, can talk about is Red Dead Redemption. Seven years have passed since the release of Max Payne 2 with nothing new to tide fans over but the critically panned 2008 film starring Mark Wahlberg (In case anyone is curious, the movie is 17% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes). The original Max Payne was re-released for download on the Xbox Live in April 2009. With the subtitle of “Rise from the Ashes,” perhaps the digital release was an attempt to rekindle the flame of anticipation of installment number 3?

Let’s not forget, Max Payne 2 didn’t sell all that well, and maybe the creators are overly cautious about having a repeat of those lackluster results. The second installment did, however, garnepositive reviews and several awards. But if anyone has played it lately, the graphics are... well, they're so 2003. Much has changed. Expectations will be running high when numero tres does hit the shelves.

A teaser trailer is still hanging out there on YouTube, revealing little about the game, but a few rumors regarding the title were floated last year. Deeko reported in June 2009 that the new Max would be “bald, bearded and addicted to pain killers.” Word at that time was that he would be hitting the streets of São Paulo, Brazil. By now, however, things could have changed, to say nothing of what could happen by 2011.

What little chatter is happening online about the delay revolves around hopes that the look of the game will change from what has been shown to the public so far. Devoted fans don’t want their Max looking too different from the jaded cop they know and love. This comment on Joystiq.com is fairly typical: “Max Payne 3 isn't a real Max Payne. Max doesn't even look like Max.”

Others are dismissing the whole thing. Says one poster on Joystiq.com, “I completely forgot about Max Payne 3.” Other message boards remain silent on the subject. Perhaps fans are becoming as cynical as the hero himself? Bet there won’t be a lot of Max Paynes walking around ComicCon this year. But there will be plenty of John Marstons.


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