According to a person acquainted with Max Payne 3's development, the title originally featured a cooperative campaign mode starring Max and something of his old cop buddies. Rockstar Games parent company Take-Two Interactive purchased Max Payne's IP rights from Remedy Entertainment and Apogee for a sum of $34 million in 2002. In announcing the news, Take-Two confirmed that Rockstar would create a third game in conjunction with Remedy, the franchise's creator. A teaser image from several years later promised a winter 2009 release date, yet players wouldn't revisit Max's gritty world until May 2012.
While a dark tone and other touchstones remained familiar, Max Payne 3 marked quite the visual departure for the series. Rather than exploring the noir-styled New York City underbelly carefully crafted by Remedy, the third installment dropped the former NYPD officer in Sāo Paolo, Brazil for any rescue mission. Colorful environments and stunning backdrops had suddenly become the name of the game for dark and gritty Max Payne. Despite the fact that it reviewed well and received post-launch DLC, very little suggests Rockstar Games will revisit Max Payne later on.
Speaking to USA Today, a resource acquainted with Rockstar's work on Max Payne 3 divulged that the London studio spent annually producing a cooperative prologue campaign. The co-op mode would've allowed two players to assume the role of Max and an old cop partner because they opened fire on enemies across modified single-player maps. Apparently, the prologue's narrative followed Max after his departure from the department, its setting beginning in New York and eventually taking the ex-NYPD officers to some security consultancy gig located in Brazil. While the overarching tale felt contrived, it ultimately constituted an make an effort to “stitch some discarded single-player levels in the main campaign together right into a new story,” the source said.
For reasons unknown, Max Payne 3's co-op mode fell towards the cutting room floor, leaving developers to pay attention to the single-player and multiplayer offerings. All wasn't for naught, however; USA Today posits Rockstar might have repurposed some of the canceled content for the New York sections featured in Max Payne 3's story campaign. And the publication's source believes scrapping the concept proved perfect for the production in the long run. While the IP could benefit from a cooperative experience, the insider said this kind of endeavor would need a game to become built around co-op as opposed to shoehorning the mechanics right into a predominantly single-player project.
It sounds like the largest challenge rested for making sure the franchise's iconic bullet-time mechanic worked with two different player characters occupying the same space. With that in mind, perhaps ditching co-op was for the best. The title launched this year, right in the center of the forced multiplayer and co-op mode craze. Did the world really need another narrative-driven IP like Max Payne to step even further out of its safe place?