'Alan Wake' gets remaster, but 'Max Payne' fans still out in the cold

By Steven T. Wright

Remedy Entertainment announced recently that a remastered version of 2010's Alan Wake will come to modern platforms, including PlayStation 4 and 5, Xbox Series X / S, and PC. But while the long-suffering fans of the third-most critically acclaimed Twin Peaks homage in video games are celebrating, a certain slow-motion super cop is still missing in action. Sure, Alan Wake is all fine and good, but where's our Max Payne remaster?

Blame game —

Now, to be clear, this obvious injustice isn't necessarily Remedy's fault: the company sold the rights to the Max Payne series to Take-Two in 2004. (Indeed, this is why Rockstar Games made Max Payne 3.) But while it doesn't have control over the license, it still seems strange that the first two games that put the developer on the map aren't easily playable on modern platforms. You can find both the original Max Payne and its sequel Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne on Steam for cheap, but you'll have to install some mods and fixes to get both working smoothly on Windows 10.

On paper, Alan Wake seems like an unlikely candidate for a remaster, given the game sold poorly on its original release in 2010. Then again, Remedy has made it clear that Alan Wake has a special place in its heart, especially given the not-so-subtle references to the melancholy writer in its latest game, the eerie shooter Control. Remedy even released special Alan Wake-themed DLC for Control last year, though it had a lot less Alan Wake in it than some fans wanted.

Bullet time —

 Look, we can understand why some might balk at a Max Payne remaster in the year 2021, despite the series' success. Loose cannon cops with nothing to lose aren't exactly the most relatable heroes for our current cultural moment, and even The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild has incorporated slow-motion "bullet time" at this point.

For our money, however, Max Payne has always been a series that balances on the razor's edge between sincerity and satire: a goofy send-up of creaky noir cliches that can't resist the urge to wallow in their treacly depths every now and then. (That tongue-in-cheek tone was mostly jettisoned in Rockstar's Max Payne 3, much to the game's detriment.)

To the max —

That sort of winking humor is sadly uncommon in today's video games, which have mostly polished away the rough edges and odd choices of previous eras of gaming. We think that both Max Payne and Max Payne 2 still play great even today, with pinpoint gunplay and tough-but-fair difficulty. The two games were quite technically impressive in their day — Max Payne 2 was one of the first games with rag doll physics — but a new coat of paint would definitely help, especially the boxy buildings and static faces of the original.

At the end of the day, it's likely that Max Payne fans will have to convince Take-Two to take a break from counting all the money that GTA Online rakes in hand-over-fist to give a remaster the green light. From where we’re sitting, it seems like easy money. (Remember, this is a series that produced a middling Mark Wahlberg film adaptation that made over $80 million in 2008.)

There's even a new Matrix movie — trench-coats and slow-motion backflips are back in style, and Take-Two needs to get with the program. But until then, if you're looking to revisit Max's old adventures, head over to the PC Gaming Wiki to learn how to make the game run on modern operating systems. Or you can pick up Superhot to take the bullet-time idea to its logical conclusion.


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