Rockstar Research: Revisiting the Ghosts, Goons and Graveyards of NJ & NY in Max Payne 3

Posted on August 15 2012, 2:03pm | Author: R* A | Filed Under: Games


Walton's Bar in Hoboken where Max has a fateful and violent encounter - a fictional bar inspired by many such gritty real-life watering holes throught Northern New Jersey and New York.

Like Deja Vu All Over Again

Corporate greed, nightclub shootouts, helicopters, vertigo-inducing rooftops, pill-popping, even Captain Baseballbatboy — the more things change for Max in Max Payne 3, the more they stay the same. Our beleaguered NYC cop pursues the promise of a fresh start working in São Paulo, Brazil, but as a couple of turning point flashback sequence levels reveal in the game, this descent into the volatile South American city's chaos is sparked by a chance encounter that took place back in the snow and darkness of New Jersey — where the butchering of his family many years ago began Payne’s downward spiral — and with death-dealing gangsters again in hot pursuit. In Max Payne 3, we find our protagonist planted on a barstool at Walton’s Bar near his Hoboken hovel, busy drowning eight years of horrific memories in drink. A dispute with a young hothead from the local DeMarco crime family rapidly escalates to pistols drawn, then gunfire and a mob of angry Mafiosi out for Payne’s blood.

But what else is new?


Fantastically moody and atmospheric, glimpses of a couple of Hoboken's bars from our original research scouting trips.

"From that moment, I was dead in that town..."

In between traveling thousands of miles to extensively research, document and collect assets to inspire the environment and level design of Max’s new Brazilian home, Rockstar's Research and Development teams also invested invaluable time scouting a bit closer to home, gathering appropriate reference material from his old stomping grounds in New York and New Jersey. A dozen locales across Hoboken, Newark and New York City were visited for the vibe and inspiration of a gritty bar where trouble could start at any moment. Some of these charming points of interest had acquired a degree of infamy thanks to their histories as former Prohibition speakeasies, or for hosting notorious Irish gangsters and with them, instances of many fistfights and shootouts over the decades.

From our tour of East Coast dive bars, highlights included our Hell’s Kitchen stops with venerable places like the landmark Rudy’s Bar and Grill, the over 100-year old McCoy’s, the now-shuttered Scruffy Duffy’s and Smith’s Bar — made famous in Scorsese's Bringing Out The Dead — that still teem with the dark, gritty ambiance, smart-mouth regulars and divey décor of classic East Coast watering holes. Further downtown, we canvassed Little Italy's Mulberry Bar, a historic 'old neighborhood' bar that was used for the opening mob lunch scene in "Donnie Brasco" - and the Ear Inn further west, drenched in underworld folklore since it's days as a Prohibition speakeasy and brothel. Across the Hudson River, we visited Newark’s homey Ironbound neighborhood spots like the Portuguese pub Flor Do Minho, patronized by die-hard locals and tough truckers. And in Hoboken proper, a range of places were toured from stubbornly old-school, “classic old-man bars” (to borrow a term from Anthony Bourdain) like Mario’s Bar and Wilton House, or newer symbols of gentrification like the Black Bear, packed with dozens of flat screen TVs and yuppies, to the chagrin of the BnR (or Born and Raised Hobokenites).

The home of mob-affiliated cantor Frank Sinatra, Old Hoboken once evoked images straight out of On the Waterfront — a gritty port and factory town with a strip called the Barbary Coast where Bethlehem Shipping’s dockworkers, Maxwell House and Lipton Tea’s workers, sailors, merchant marines and other assorted toughs could find a warm bed, a stiff drink, and any other vice that might need to be sated to take the edge off a long laborious work day. Much has changed over subsequent generations and the now-trendy area has seen median household incomes have risen above $100,000. But stray too far from the proverbial path (or the literal PATH) into the outskirts of town, and Hoboken can be just as seedy and dangerous as it ever was. The game depicts an illegal chop shop near Max’s apartment, junior mobsters in training harassing him as he sips booze — and this too is the real Hoboken. Its violent crime and property crime rates are actually higher than New Jersey’s overall averages, and in some places shiny new luxury condos lie just a stones throw from notorious public housing projects right across the street. That’s no knock on Hoboken, a great town with many great spots and some not-so-great spots like any other city, especially one with Hoboken’s population density, the third-highest in NJ. Besides, as we know, trouble tends to follow Max no matter where he goes…


Left: Max visits the gravesite of his slain wife and baby daughter; Right: At the famous Calvary Cemetery in Queens, gravestone of a child murdered by NYC's infamous Black Hand mob in the 1920s. 

Partnerships Start as They Mean to Go on

After Max and his friend Raul Passos manage to shoot or shake the various gangsters on their tail, they escape the Hoboken streets with their pistols still smoking. Passos assures him he has friends there that can help them dodge the heat for a few days until they can flee to South America. Max decides to bid one final farewell to his wife and daughter’s graves at Golgotha Cemetery (named after the site of Jesus Christ’s crucifixion) before his self-imposed exile. Max’s bad luck is as reliable as ever, and he finds DeMarco muscle laying in wait for him there. A ballet of bullets is unleashed in a furious shootout, littering the snowy cemetery with shells and bloodstains.

Gothic and beautiful and eerily quiet, our Golgotha Cemetery map was inspired by many of the New York's massive and historic cemeteries - some of the largest in the United States. These sites included lower Manhattan's Trinity Cemetery; Trinity’s original site near Ground Zero in NYC dates back to 1697, while its sister cemetery uptown in Washington Heights (established in the 1840s) has interred some of New York’s historical elites. Among them are famed naturalist and painter John James Audubon, who formerly owned the land, various members of New York’s regal Astor family, and Eliza Jumel, ex-wife of former US Vice-President Aaron Burr. (It is even rumored that Mrs. Jumel’s ghost still haunts the nearby Jumel Mansion.)


Top: A sprawling view of the real-life Calvary Cemetery, one of the largest in the United States. [Wikimedia Commons]; Bottom: Max Payne 3's fictional Golgotha Cemetery.

Across the East River in Queens, our developers took in the amazing sprawl of majestic Jewish burial grounds like Mt. Zion and Machpelah, the home of gifted magician Harry Houdini’s ornate grave; and of course the area's largest of all - Calvary Cemetery, once the biggest in the U.S. and the burial site of over 3 million people. Stunning and awe-inspiring with views straight across of the Manhattan skyline, there are of course tons of notable burials scattered throughout the masses of graves - amongst them some of NYC's most legendary and infamous capos and dons from mobs like the Five Points Gang, the Genoveses, Bonnanos and the Luccheses; political bosses like Governor Alfred E. Smith and Carmine DeSapio; and even New York’s first and most famous mob-busting cop (Joseph Petrosino). A tough old gang buster like Joe would understand: when push came to shove at Golgotha, Max and Raul had no choice but to wage war atop those hallowed grounds inspired in part by his own final resting place.


Previously:
Behind the Scenes of Max Payne 3's Voiceover, Mo-Cap & Scanning Sessions
The Rarefied High Life in Max Payne 3's São Paulo Metropolis
The Weapon-Wielding Gangsters and Special Police Commandos of Max Payne 3
 

Rockstar Desktops: "MACHINE"

Posted on July 30 2012, 1:12pm | Author: R* A | Filed Under: Rockstar



Originally seen as one of our brand new summer collection Rockstar tees released to the Warehouse recently, you can now download the original "MACHINE" art in digital form, including high-res desktop formats to scrutinize all of its detail.

As described by the Rockstar art team, "At the bottom left of the Machine, a child plays the Wurlitzer, music flowing all through the elaborate mechanisms. At the opposite end of the star formation, musical notes are played in concert by robot hands on a keyboard of cats. The hands squeeze the cats and the musical notes from the little girl’s Wurlitzer are translated into the beautiful sound of cat yelps. The Machine is powered by a living dinosaur skeleton on a treadmill and operated by men at the top, one of whom is being flogged for insubordination."

Get it now at www.rockstargames.com/downloads in a variety of color options and a wide range of sizes for desktops, backgrounds, Facebook covers, avatars, and icons.

Previously:
Get the Rockstar Machine & Rockstar Rolling Tees at the Warehouse
Rockstar Desktops Collection: RGB Series

Max Payne 3 Multiplayer: Latest Weapon Tuning Updates

Posted on July 23 2012, 2:59pm | Author: R* A | Filed Under: Games



* UPDATE: These updates are now live across all three platforms, including PC.

As promised, we're paying close attention to user-feedback submitted by the Max Payne 3 Multiplayer community to our MaxFeedback@rockstargames.com address, and using that information to help inform dynamic tuning, title updates and DLC content in the works. Today, we can report a lineup of tweaks that have just been made to adjust weaponry online with aim to enhance overall balance (the updates are currently live across all three platforms). Jump online, give it all a go, and do feel free to hit us back at the Feedback address above if you have any suggestions related to Max Payne 3 Multiplayer at all. Stay tuned for more info soon on forthcoming title updates and DLC as well.

•         RPG
o   Starting ammunition reduced
o   Projectile will no longer ricochet or skim off smooth surfaces

•         .38 Revolver
o   Effective range increased

•         DE .50
o   Accuracy and effective range slightly increased
o   Starting ammunition increased
o   Resolved an issue that prevented the Gas Systems Kit attachment from granting the correct damage bonus

•         608 Bull
o   Starting ammunition increased

•         Mini-30
o   Slightly lowered rate of fire
o   Reduced ammunition capacity of both normal and extended magazines
o   Recoil recovery speed improved

•         Sawn Off
o   Significantly increased damage and range

•         Super Sport
o   Starting ammunition increased

•         Two-Handed Shotguns
o   Resolved an issue that prevented the Gas Systems Kit attachment from granting the correct damage bonus
o   Improved the effectiveness of the Barrel Upgrade attachment

•         Suppressor Attachments
o   Now correctly decreases weapon damage at moderate to long range


Previously:
Max Payne 3 Multiplayer: Community Feedback Welcome
 

From NYC to São Paulo: Behind the Scenes of Max Payne 3’s Voiceover, Mo-Cap & Scanning Sessions

Posted on May 29 2012, 10:45am | Author: R* A | Filed Under: Games


The inimitable James McCaffrey voicing dialogue in our Rockstar NYC recording studio.

From New York City to São Paulo – the casting, voiceover recording, body and facial scanning and performance capture of Max Payne 3 was in itself an epic-scale production and adventure, spanning across continents and with a dynamic cast of hundreds. While the game's principal stars are portrayed by actors recorded and motion captured at our NY homebase (including the inimitable James McCaffrey returning as Max Payne himself), in order to fill the many Brazilian supporting roles from paramilitary soldiers to Branco office employees to favela residents and more, we made several production trips to the heart of São Paulo for a series of intensive dedicated recording and body scanning sessions.

Today’s installment in our behind-the-scenes series on the making of Max Payne 3 provides a glimpse into this aspect of the game’s cross-continental production - with a special look at the work invested in the performances for the game’s single-player as well as multiplayer experience.
 


Left: McCaffrey and actress Benedita Pereira in motion-capture suits performing at the Rockstar Long Island studio; Right: The finished product with Max assisting Fabiana Branco out of the family helicopter for an ill-fated night of reveling at Club Moderno.

Nova Iorque

Securing James McCaffrey to reprise his role as the signature voice of Max Payne was an early step in the casting process – one we knew would delight long-time fans of the franchise, his very voice (alongside that signature theme song cue) sparking waves of nostalgia when we unveiled the game’s Debut Trailer last fall. With a larger script than either of the previous Max titles, James spent close to 50 hours in the voiceover booth alone, working on in-game dialogue and Max Payne’s signature inner monologue.

Beyond the cumulative months on end spent voicing dialogue in our NYC recording studio, the game’s principal cast also donned performance suits for extensive shoots at our Long Island based motion-capture facility. Rivaled by only a handful of others worldwide, the L.I. facility is a state-of-the-art grade of mo-cap studio with proprietary technology to capture an unrivaled range of motion for animation resulting in the fluid and believable movement you see when Max dives into action.

The game’s principal cast was directed through every story cutscene as well as stunt work needed for dynamic range of motion required for gameplay.  Many sets required extensive build time with stunts and body falls from intense heights. Joining Mr. McCaffrey (who performed many of the advanced stunts himself, save for some of the more dangerous Shootdodging™ and acrobatic dives handled by pro stuntmen) was a fantastic cast of actors including Portuguese novela star Benedita Pereira who plays the Portugal-born Fabiana Branco. As seen in one of the images above, and as with any of our game’s mo-cap performance work, vast credit is due to our actors for being able to believably act out a scene taking place in a helicopter ride over the skies of São Paulo whilst actually sitting on a stage in Long Island wearing bulky and awkward capture suits.

São Paulo

One of the largest countries in the world, in both population and sheer land mass, Brazil is also one of the most diverse – with distinct Portuguese language dialects and important cultural uniquities that vary from one city or province to the next. Limited in the possible talent pool of authentic Paulistano-born acting and modeling talent here in New York, and with a need to fill hundreds of supporting character roles in the majority São Paulo based levels of the game’s story and multiplayer, we embarked on our own mission to South America for a series of casting, scanning, and voice recording sessions.



As Vozes

In trips taken specifically for voice recording, Lazlow, Rockstar’s Director of Audio Content, led a team of directors, vocal coaches, translators and sound engineers to record over ten thousand lines of Portuguese dialogue spoken in the game. With a heavy focus on tough and authoritarian VO talent needed, our local producer and sound engineer Bruno Pompeo of Maria Fumaça Productions helped in rounding up an awesome cast to provide the vocal presence of the game’s Crachá Preto paramilitary, Comando Sombra gang members, UFE troopers, favela residents and more.

Notable among the cast’s Paulistano voices are local Brazilian reality TV star and tattoo artist, Zumba Treze who voices a commanding UFE officer in the game – as well as up-and-coming São Paulo rapper (and affiliate of Emicida's Laborátorio Fantasma label) Tiago RedNiggaz who voices a character in the favela levels – both of whom are shown in photos taken during the sessions in the slideshow above.

Listen here for a first-hand account of the trips as revealed by Lazlow himself recently during an appearance on the Opie & Anthony radio show.

Os Rostos e Corpos

Separate from the voice recordings, extensive sessions were also held casting and scanning local models to serve as the faces and bodies of the game’s extras, supporting roles, and Multiplayer character skins (particularly for narrative-based game modes like Gang Wars where teams of Brazilian gangsters and soldiers face off against one another).

A Paul-Bunyan-sized mixed martial artist, a golden-locked dancer, a muscle-bound Mr. Universe contender, and even a bona fide beauty queen were only a handful of the local Brazilian talent cast to fill the hundreds of these bit parts across the game experience. Conducted at the renowned Locall Studio in the Vila Ribeiro De Barros region of São Paulo, two studio spaces were required for this leg of production - one for wardrobe where actors would change into various costumes to suit each character and the other containing the large amount of advanced scanning equipment the development team lugged south.

In wardrobe, there was a wide variety of outfits tailored to the specific roles: elite forces police uniforms, smart clubbing shirts and dresses, string bikinis, hot pants, business suits, bulletproof vests, workman boots and more were on hand as needed. Once dressed, the models were ushered into the scanning studio for image capture - each individual scan taking up to 30 minutes to complete as the head, torso and limbs are all shot separately (and longer if the actor moved or blinked at the wrong moment). As seen in the body scanning production image in the slideshow above, the poles that are visible in the photos not only ensure the actor remains stable for prolonged periods of scanning, but also to position them correctly throughout.

Included in the casting sessions and serving as the basis of just a few of the character models you’ll see in the game were Brazilian Ju-Jitsu world champion Paulo Guimaraes, who appears both as a sniper and as a bearded foot-soldier out to take Max down; the towering Daniel Borges, who competes in vicious Vale Tudo (Portuguese for ‘anything goes’) bouts and shared his personal tactics for busting skulls (why anyone would be insane enough to get in the ring with this man-mountain is beyond us) who appears as a rifle-wielding commando; and the beautiful Sarah Ferreira, a Miss São Paulo pageant contestant who appears as a dancer in the game.

Once all of the scanning has been completed, the yielded raw files then serve as a foundation for Rockstar 3D character artists to artfully design and embellish into original models. As seen in the slideshow’s presentation of Mr. Borges’ transition from photograph to 3D head to a muscle-bound, imposing Crachá Preto solider.

Max Payne 3: The Official Soundtrack - Now Available on iTunes

Posted on May 23 2012, 10:22am | Author: R* A | Filed Under: Music, Games

 

Today, you can download Max Payne 3: The Official Soundtrack on iTunes.

The original soundtrack for Max Payne 3 is composed by HEALTH, the L.A. noise band whose non-symmetrical sounds have garnered critical acclaim from the music press and fans around the world. Mixing their signature percussive undertones and synth effects, HEALTH has created a dark and driving soundscape that perfectly reflect Max’s blurred and frayed mental state. HEALTH discard conventional balanced compositions and inject their signature melancholy noise pop into a score that helps propel Max as he transitions between his dark present and tragic past, giving each their own distinctive feel, while staying true to the heavy atmosphere of the Max Payne series.

The Official Soundtrack also includes Emicida's "9 Circulos" as a special bonus track - a powerful and socially conscious original song created by the acclaimed Brazilian MC especially for Max Payne 3.

Full tracklisting:

1. SAMPA
2. SHELLS
3. PAINKILLER
4. BLASPHEMY
5. MAX NJ
6. TORTURE
7. MAX DOCKS
8. THE GIRL
9. MAX KILL
10. +90
11. FABIANA
12. MAX FAVELA
13. DEAD
14. GUNS
15. MAX PANAMA
16. THE IMPERIAL PALACE
17. 16 230
18. U.F.E.
19. COMBAT DRUGS
20. PILLS
21. FUTURE
22. MAX FINALE
23. BIRTH
24. SEVERIN
25. PAIN
26. TEARS
27. 9 Circulos (Bonus Track) – Emicida


Previously:
Download "MAX: THEME" by HEALTH Plus More Updates on the Max Payne 3 Original Soundtrack
 

Max Payne 3 Multiplayer: Community Feedback Welcome

Posted on May 21 2012, 11:20am | Author: R* A | Filed Under: Games



As part of our commitment to support the Max Payne 3 Multiplayer community all summer long and beyond, we're eager to hear your direct feedback on anything and everything based on these first few days of international online action. As with any good online multiplayer experience, we'll be continuing to fine tune and balance aspects of the game based on player feedback and based on constant analysis of online metrics. We will be using your input as valuable information to help steer tuning updates we will be making on the fly as well as the content and priority of our title updates and elements of our DLC Packs currently in development.

To have your voice heard - simply fire an email off to MaxFeedback@rockstargames.com. Cheers everyone.

Download "MAX: THEME" by HEALTH Plus More Updates on the Max Payne 3 Original Soundtrack

Posted on May 16 2012, 2:12pm | Author: R* A | Filed Under: Music, Games

Yesterday marked not only the date of the official release of Max Payne 3 here in the states but also the release of HEALTH's hypnotic and powerful Soundtrack single "TEARS" on iTunes. Today, we've got more Soundtrack treats for you all as we gear up for Max Payne 3's international release kicking off on Friday.

Starting with a special free download for Max Payne fans everywhere, the "MAX: THEME" by HEALTH as heard above - their faithful, haunting rendition of the signature Max Payne theme as heard in the Max Payne 3 Launch Trailer (and teased in this in-studio behind-the-scenes clip).

We've also launched the Soundtrack feature page at the Max Payne 3 Official Website this week with more audio and info for everyone including an audio snippet of another pounding percussive track from the Soundtrack by HEALTH, "COMBAT DRUGS" (heard in Official Trailer #2). You can also read up on some new details about other music that underscores the Max Payne 3 story - from the original Trouble & Bass DJ Mix heard during the game's fateful Nightclub sequence (stay tuned for a special mixtape release of that mix soon) to the gritty and soulful sounds of celebrated contemporary blues guitarist Gary Clark Jr that are heard during the Hoboken Bar sequence, a violent turning point in Max's life.

The Max Payne 3 Official Soundtrack will be available digitally next week, Tuesday May 23rd featuring all original music from the score as composed by HEALTH, including "TEARS" as well as the bonus track "9 Círculos" by Emicida. Stay tuned for full tracklist info by Tuesday - and also keep an eye out on the Rockstar Twitter feed for the release of a special "US To BR" Remix of Emicida's "9 Círculos" later this week.
 

Enlistment Roundup: The First Days of CREWS at the New Rockstar Social Club

Posted on May 12 2012, 7:18pm | Author: R* A | Filed Under: Social Club, Games

Social Club Crew registration has only been open for a few short days and already we’re seeing rivalries fostering between storied internet communities, very ill original Emblem Editor creations, and allegiances being forged amongst our longtime Social Club members, #MaxPayne3 Twitter cast members and more. We promise to keep you updated on a regular basis at the Newswire in the weeks and months ahead on the latest news from the Crew frontlines – highlighting those that are dominating the Max Payne 3 Leaderboards and unlocking accomplishments, and those that have managed to catch our eye out there in the community. For now, check out a first roundup of some noteworthy first Founder Crews.





From top left:

911 NYC, PCC Crew, and Bring on the Payne – these guys have been actively recruiting at the Newswire and on Facebook since well before the New Social Club launched – and we know many of you in Comments have already pledged your allegiance to one (or a potentially treasonous multiple). We’re looking forward to an epic Feud between these warring factions online once Max Payne 3 drops next week.

Enlistment support drive – these guys may be short as yet on members, but big on fun names, emblems and mottos that have caught our attention – have a look: Raging Wookiees (“Don’t anger the Wookiees”), GameTimeAgainNinjas (“There’s only two ways this can end & in both of them, you die), War Kitties (“I am the devil, and I am here to do the devil’s work”), Jimmy Rustlers (“Your Jimmies just got rustled”), Cthulu Catz (“Crew for having a good time. Open to all!”), Los Santos Kings (“Oooosh bang tidy!!!”) and Pattern Baldness (“We’re not ready to let it go… Share your despair. Tear the hair from your enemies.”).

Reddit versus The Vidya (4Chan) – we are not taking sides in this one, but these two communities have planted their Founder Crew flags down and it looks like the beef is on. The Vidya has inadvertently broken the Crew cap of 250 members and soared to over 300 deep – the biggest Crew yet. With that, we've officially lifted the member cap for all private Crews to 300, and are working on lifting it even higher in the coming weeks – in the meantime, the gauntlet has been thrown in Reddit’s direction as Vidya Crew member ThuhPickle states on their Crew page, “Reddit doesn’t stand a chance”…

GTAForums and iGrandTheftAuto – two of the longest-running GTA fan communities Crewing up. Shout to Crew leaders Meta_Pathos and Psyware respectively. But will it be a GTA fan alliance between these two – or a Rampage?

Ready for action – these Crews are growing in numbers and appear to be pretty damn serious about making a mark in Multiplayer: Russian Bears Team (“Turn yourself into a best, get rid of the pain of being a man. Recruiting new members and NOT only Russians. Join and together we will build a mighty and powerful crew”), UK Crew (“Anarchy from the UK, is all about the GMT… We’ll be Bringing the Payne from all UK consoles to everyone else.”), NYC Bloodpack (“Fighting for Peace, Killing for Fun”), Riot Hounds (“Play Hard or Play Chill. Most of all – Play for Fun.”), SFO-Wolf (“Mortis Nostrum Hostilis… Welcome to the den! Home of the tier-one Special Force Operative WOLF!”) and Guerilla Gaming (“Looking for the Best of the Best of the Best to Dominate the Competition.”).

SODMG Gamers – we’ve seen these guys from the SODMG community on Twitter for weeks now getting amped for Payne, even making original songs like “Strapped Up Like Max Payne”. Ready to see all of SODMG flood in to that Crew.

Two gaming community Crews worth noting - WetheGamerz of WetheGamerz.com with an awesome emblem – and of course, NeoGANG – The Official NeoGAF Crew founded by DGSimo. Also everyone can check out the NeoGAF Max Payne 3 OT now up and rocking.

Broken Whiskey Bottles – Finally, a special shout to this Crew for its constituency of faithful Social Club members like ChicagoEnigma, FugetSudo_Jr, emmi18176860, German Scientist, Marney-1, IWIHooligan, and others – as well as for recruiting several of the #MaxPayne3 Twitter cast members like JaclynJimenez, silenthamish, Twisted_AZ, ElvisMarques and Louzer. We’re sure this squad will be a fixture in the daily play sessions with Rockstar and official Max Payne 3 live streaming Social Club events.
 

Social Club Crews

For Max Payne 3 to Grand Theft Auto V and beyond, Crews are groups of Social Club members who form persistent teams to compete and earn rewards in-game and on the Social Club website. Create a Crew or join one now - here are some Crews we've featured in the Crew Cut here at the Newswire:

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