on May 3, 2010
A beefy slob in a dirty wifebeater, gunning down terrorists in a sun-drenched ghetto. Has anyone related with this project ever familiarized themselves with the concept of noir?
Hats? Ties? Jackets? Cities at night? Moody lighting? Mobsters? Down on his luck detective? Neon? A protagonist who is NOT a hulking badass? Snappy dialog with clever dames and world-weary cops? Does any of this sound familiar?
You don’t need all of these things to make a noir story. In fact, it’s common to change a couple on purpose. But if you drop all if them, then it sort of defeats the purpose of calling it “noir”. If I made a superhero movie about a guy who doesn’t have any powers, doesn’t dress up, and makes no effort to fight crime or be heroic, then I didn’t actually make a superhero movie, did I? I just made some other movie and then mis-categorized it. Even if it turns out to be a great movie, I shouldn’t call it Spider-Man 4.
It’s not like noir is this overcrowded genre where they needed to break away so they could stand out. They took a game which was thematically unique – the one active noir franchise – and made it into something else. Now it looks like Kane & Lynch, the poster child for bland and unlikeable.
The usual explanation when something like this happens (as with Xcom) is that they’re just harvesting the brand name to garner a few sales, but, it’s not like Max Payne is this obscure, struggling series that needed an overhaul to make it more “mainstream”. Metacritic scores:
Changing a unique series so that it can be more like other, less interesting, less successful titles makes no sense. Rockstar, I will be happy – delighted even – to eat these words if this game isn’t a soup of mindless battles, perfunctory boilerplate dialog, and sticky-cover based combat. But from where I sit you’re turning gold into lead.
Shamus Young is an old-school OpenGL programmer, author, and composer. He runs this site and if anything is broken you should probably blame him.