While few details can be gleaned from the short excerpt that Edge itself posted online, full scans and article summaries have emerged across forums and gaming sites, spilling all the beans. The Edge preview gives no indication that, even during all this time laying low, MP3 has undergone any starts and stops -- it's still set in São Paulo, Brazil, and Payne will still be all bald and brutish during points in the chronologically nonlinear plot (the game's missions are going to bounce around).
Instead, the article suggests that Rockstar's meticulous pursuit of perfection has slowed development to a crawl (the release date is still noted as "to be confirmed"). Lead development studio Rockstar Vancouver has labored over delivering "a more fully realized cinematic experience," according to art director Rob Nelson (in Edge's excerpt), using NaturalMotion's Euphoria animation engine to blend the cinematic and interactive elements of the game into a seamless experience -- and Edge marvels at the result in the level demonstrated to the magazine.
"And though this is a more linear game for us," Nelson adds, "people want to be constantly surprised and entertained in new ways." Of course, "the main mechanic is still shooting" and MP3 will retain the series' core gameplay features -- bullet-time, bullet-cam, shoot-dodge, dual-wielding and health pills -- while building in new elements, like a cover system that's still being tweaked. (No further word on multiplayer.)
Perhaps nothing is more indicative of Rockstar's commitment to getting the game right than the decision to bring back James McCaffrey to voice Payne (despite an earlier report to the contrary). Not only his voice, but McCaffrey's full acting abilities will be on display, as he and other actors have been recorded in group mo-cap sessions. Rest assured, Max Payne 3 is another big-budget Rockstar production that sounds to be humming along in high gear. "He's coming" -- no doubt about it now.
[Image source: Edge; full cover art below]