Here's some news that genuinely caught us off guard today: Remedy is remaking third-person shooter masterpieces Max Payne and Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne.
The remade Paynes will be distributed as one package, and aren't likely to be released anytime soon. Remedy says that the project is in "the concept development stage."
For now, the news is just that Remedy was able to get the go-ahead on the project, which wasn't a given. Remedy created both of the original Max Payne games, but Rockstar published them, and still controls the Max Payne copyright. (Rockstar developed Max Payne 3 itself.)
According to Remedy's announcement, it approached Rockstar with the idea of remaking the games, and Rockstar co-founder Sam Houser was "thrilled" by the idea. Rockstar is funding development of the remakes, whose budget will be "in line with a typical Remedy AAA-game production," says Remedy. No surprise: Remedy plans to use its Northlight game engine, which was most recently seen in Control.
The first Max Payne game released a couple years after The Matrix hit theaters, and was the first game to really nail the slo-mo gunplay popularized by the movie; that influence can also be seen in Max Payne's grimy New York levels, especially the subway station where it begins.
The similarities to The Matrix mostly end there. Max Payne is an ultra-melodramatic noir thriller about an ex-cop out for revenge. Its story was delivered with comic book-style interludes and what remains some of the best VO work in all of videogames. Think True Detective, but less subtle.
I don't know about angels, but it's fear that gives men wings.
Max Payne 2 was also notable for its Havok physics, which were pretty groundbreaking at the time—I spent hours shooting at and running into buckets just to make them fly around, as I also did in Half-Life 2.
And, perhaps most importantly, no one who played Max Payne 1 can forget Max's face: a photo of grimacing Remedy creative director Sam Lake plastered onto a low-poly head. I think we all hope Lake models for the remakes, too. (He hasn't changed much!) Here's hoping the voice of Max, James McCaffrey, is back, too—probably, as he has continued to work with Remedy.
One concern is that Rockstar might delist the original Max Paynes when the remade versions release, which would be disappointing. There's precedent: After releasing Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy, Rockstar removed the originals from sale, which was especially frustrating given how janky the remakes were. Here's hoping it's still possible to acquire Max Payne in his original Lake-face form after the remakes release—if not, write in and I'll lend you my discs.
I also hope the console commands are preserved in the remakes, and that they're moddable like the originals, but I'm not holding my breath. Still, exciting times.
Remedy has a lot going on: Epic Games is publishing Alan Wake 2 and another upcoming game from the studio, and it also has a deal with 505 Games to make a multiplayer Control spin-off.