With Max Payne 2 recently making waves on the PC, we talked to lead writer Sam Lake about the game's story as the PlayStation 2 and Xbox versions near release.
Gamespot: For those unfamiliar with the franchise, what can you tell us about Mona Sax, Max Payne's love interest in Max Payne 2?
Sam Lake: Mona Sax is a professional assassin who first appeared in the original Max Payne game. As it turned out, Max and Mona were after the same man--a Mafia godfather who murdered Mona's twin sister. Mona later sided with Max, once her revenge was taken care of. But after taking a bullet for Max in his battle against Nicole Horne, Mona's body disappeared behind closing elevator doors. In Max Payne 2 the mysterious Mona is back. With Max, a hard-boiled homicide detective, and Mona, a murder suspect who holds the keys to the questions that haunt him, it seems that nothing is simple in New York's dark, tragic night.
GS: The game is described as a "Film Noir Love Story." What does that mean, exactly?
SL: I think it's quite a new subject for video games. The game is still clearly in the action adventure genre, but we felt that it was time to try to break some new ground and take an unexpected direction in the storytelling. All things considered, we're really happy with how much this setting and storyline give depth to the whole experience.
GS: Obviously Max Payne is associated with gunplay and action how do you feel gamers react to love stories?
SL: We, obviously, hope gamers out there will enjoy the story. The idea was simply too delicious to pass over, and, as with the first game, our objective has been to evoke emotion with the game and to create strong characters. Basing the storyline around a cop and a murder suspect was such a great way to bring tension to the story that we couldn't resist it.
GS: How did you go about showing the love between Max and Mona?
SL: Our goal has been to integrate a lot of the storyline into the gameplay. So, yes, there's a lot of interaction between Max and Mona in the game.
GS: Was writing the script for Max Payne 2 much different experience than for the original Max Payne?
SL: Certainly. Writing a sequel is certainly an art of its own. The setting and the characters have already been established, so, on the one hand, you have to stay faithful to that. But, on the other hand, you need to shake things up and take the story in surprising directions. You keep what's good and fix what was not so good. By now, the content amounts have also been growing exponentially, along with the expectations of gamers, so the screenplay for the sequel ended up being three times longer than the one for the original Max Payne. In Max Payne 2 there is a lot more detail--everywhere--and there are a lot more things that are happening all the time. So much so, that it's almost impossible to catch all of it the first time through.
GS: Thanks for your time.