Sinking In To The Underground
Rockstar is arguably the best our industry has to offer when it comes to realizing period in time and their distinct vibe and atmosphere, be it the seedy, neon-drenched night-life of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, or the sun-baked sprawl and desperation of Red Dead Redemption. Up next, the crime-ridden slums of Sao Paolo, Brazil; Max Payne 3's all new - somewhat jarringly so - setting, with the titular gunslinger mired in all sorts of trouble. Rockstar went to extreme lengths to capture Sao Paolo in all its glory, from the architecture and cultural hotspots to its varied, class-straddling citizens.
Rockstar visited Brazil a few years ago, with the art department and chief creative staff conducting painstaking research into Sao Paolo culture, police, weaponry, as well as "other elements that will not only contribute to the game’s single-player narrative, but also the single and multiplayer environments and characters". As well as interviewing the favela's feared gang-members, Rockstar also researched the municipal forces so as to ensure the divide between the two forces was as realistic as possible.
Over the course of their stint in Brazil, Rockstar logged thousands of photographs, ranging from Sao Paolo's more affluent areas such as Avenida Morumbi, Avenida Paulista and the Jardins district, to crime-ridden hotspots such as Favela Japiaçu (Favela do Rove) and the infamous Edificio São Vito (aka Treme Treme or the Vertical Favela). This data was then passed on to artists, modellers and engineers, who ensured Max Payne 3's depiction of Sao Paolo was as faithful as could be.
Along with architecture, Rockstar was intent on capturing the cultural vibe and overall personality of Sao Paolo. A variety of different 'Paulistanos', from boss nova singers to jujitsu champions and infamous gang-members, were scanned in to Rockstar's database and recreated in-engine. Furthermore, Rockstar called upon local Sao Paolo casting agencies to voice Max Payne 3's pedestrians.
Recently, Rockstar dropped a heap of Max Payne 3 multiplayer shots which we duly dissected. The in-engine shots showcases the favela gangs in turf wars with what appeared to be local Brazilian special-forces. We now have a name for this particular faction: Unidade de Forças Especiais (UFE), a fictional special-forces police unit inspired by Rockstar's research into Sao Paolo's municipal system, and celebrated documentaries such as Favela Rising and Bus 174.
All in all, Max Payne 3 is shaping up to be nothing short of a phenomenally visceral shooter with perhaps the best recreation of Brazil and Sao Paolo's sprawling favela to date. We can't wait to see more on the game, and hope to finally get our hands-on with it very, very soon. We'll keep you all in the loop.