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Max Payne 3 video delves into Health's original score

Samit Sarkar (he/him) is Polygon’s deputy managing editor. He has more than 15 years of experience covering video games, movies, television, and technology.

Max Payne 3's original score was provided by the band Health, and the group detailed the process by which they put together the music in a video for The Creators Project.

"All the music we did," said bassist John Famiglietti, "it's to support the action, it's to support the gameplay." The recording process was very different from Health's typical method of making an album of its own, according to vocalist and guitarist Jake Duzsik, who also said that the band strove to find music that fit the on-screen action. "It's not like we're just making songs," he pointed out. "We're making a score."

Health worked with Ivan Pavlovich, music director on Max Payne 3 at Rockstar, to come up with an interactive musical score. He described the process of coming up with "stems," lines of music for particular moods or types of sequences that could be layered atop each other as the action changed. Pavlovich singled out the "pulsating bass line" that plays throughout the chapter that takes place in a Brazilian stadium as an element that maintains tension and continuously pushes the player forward.

In order to come up with the stems, Health would watch footage of testers playing through early version of Max Payne 3, and then tailor its compositions to fit the desired mood. For example, Famiglietti explained that during the chapter set in New York, the music heavily references the mournful cello motif of the original Max Payne, while the score in the Brazilian chapters was much more similar to the kind of music Health is known for.

Health's Max Payne 3 soundtrack is available for purchase separately from the game. Max Payne 3 launched on Windows PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 in May 2012.

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