After a decade long break, the aspirin chewing, two-gun wielding, slow-motion dodging noir hero Max Payne is back in the upcoming title Max Payne 3 from Rockstar Games. However, before the next chapter of his life is explored by gamers on May 15, 2012, fans can get into his troubled mind in Max Payne: After The Fall, a digital comic prequel that explores different moments in his life, including the timeframe before and during the events of the first two games. Created in partnership between Rockstar Games and Marvel Custom Solutions, Max Payne: After The Fall was written by Sam Lake (Max Payne 1 & 2, Alan Wake) and Dan Houser, the Vice President of Creative for Rockstar Games whose game writing credits include work on the Grand Theft Auto franchise and Red Dead Redemption, with art by Fernando Blanco and covers by Greg Horn. Newsarama recently sat down with Houser to try and get into the head of one of the men already inside Max’s troubled mind.
Newsarama: It’s been almost ten years since we’ve seen any sign of Max Payne, how much was this gap in time factor into writing the comic?
Dan Houser: A big factor, in that there was both the need to remind people about who Max is, or introduce others, and also the need to explain how he's ended up a lonely, middle aged drunk, stuck in his memories and thinking only about past glories and failures.
Nrama: The series has always been closely associated with graphic novel-style storytelling. Did you see that as a benefit or a detriment to creating the new book?
Houser: It was the reason for it - the game's association with the medium, not just visually, but also in terms of how it is structured narratively made it an easy fit. It heavily influenced the art style in the game and meant we wanted to make a comic, as it would fit artistically with the game.
Nrama: The series is also known for its metaphor heavy, noir-ish monologues. Do those return and how much was it a challenge to keep it fresh?
Houser: Yes - I mean the comic and the game are both monologue heavy. The style has probably evolved somewhat, and maybe slightly less metaphor-heavy as we needed a tone that would work well with modern animation and would keep the game moving forward, but it feels very "Max Payne' to anyone who reads or hears some of it. He certainly still feels like the same introspective, somewhat wordy, hard-boiled world-weary cop to us, only now he is an ex-cop.
Nrama: There is a lot of speculation and discussion about the game’s settings - will the action in book take place solely in the New York area or will we see him living in South America as well?
Houser: The book is an immediate prequel to the game, so it all takes place in Hoboken, New Jersey, where he lives, which is where the game starts, chronologically. It covers some of the events that lead up to him leaving for South America, but not his departure. It also covers, in one way or another, across the three comics, all of Max's life up to this point, his childhood, his parents, his marriage, his career, his drinking and so on.
Nrama: What was the inspiration for the comic’s story and how will it influence the story told in the new game? Is it required reading for players?
Houser: The game and Max's character, and the desire to provide some background for those who care about such things, were the inspirations. Is it required? Well, it's not mandatory – the game will still make perfect sense to someone who has neither read a Max comic, nor played a Max game before, but for people who want either a refresher course and additional details or an introduction to Max Payne, we believe the comics will be a lot of fun to read, and they certainly look beautiful. The artists did an amazing job.Max Payne 3: After the Fall will be available soon at http://www.rockstargames.com/newswire