The lights are on
The soundtrack to Rockstar’s Max Payne 3 is one of my favorite albums of the year. Composed and performed by the New York art rock band Health, it’s eerie synthesizers and highly processed drums stand in contrast to the clichéd music we hear in most big-budget action games.
I’ve been listening to it regularly since the game released, and it’s a continually rewarding listen. It was certainly a risk for Rockstar to hand the reins to a large portion of the audio of a triple-A game to some guys that look like this. Frankly, Health is a band that’s sold albums in the hundreds and thousands, not the millions. It’s not the type of partnership that’s a selling point for most of the gamers that will buy Max Payne 3. However, both listening to the soundtrack alone and while playing the game, it’s clear that the score is crucial to the game's artistic vision.
Max Payne 3 doesn’t reinvent the series so much as bring a new level of polish and cinematic vibe to the proceedings. I instantly fell in love with the colorful, lurid Brazilian setting. However, it’s the music that really makes it feel special – adding a dreamlike, unsettling atmosphere to both the cutscenes and action sequences.