The original Max Payne was a marvel when it launched, but the 18 years since then haven’t been particularly kind to its gritty, neo-noir looks. Fortunately, a new texture upscaling method using AI neural networks has allowed one modder to give Max a fresh coat of high-resolution paint, and you can download it now.
Using a process called ESRGAN – short for Enhanced Super Resolution Generative Adversarial Networks – a modder called Gaiver74 has created high-resolution versions of most of the textures in Max Payne. The quick and dirty version of how it works is by taking each texture image, blowing it up to the desired resolution, and then using an AI to intelligently add detail to the image, making several passes for each image.
The goal for the AI is to ‘trick’ its AI adversary into identifying one of the enhanced images as genuine, which helps ESRGAN maintain the artistic style of the original textures.
Last month, ResetEra members shared screenshots from classic games that they’d ‘remastered’ using ESRGAN, and the results were, in many cases, remarkable. Background art from old LucasArts adventure games like Sam & Max and Full Throttle came out looking fresh and new, with none of the low-res pixels visible in the AI-enhanced versions. But the technique has to be used carefully – in some games, the AI enhanced visual artifacts instead of the base image, and so applying a process like ESRGAN isn’t fully automatic.
But as Dark Side of Gaming points out, the ESRGAN process helps keep things looking remarkably true to the original game, and the results here are impressive. Details on wallpapers, rugs, and even newspapers pop out in high resolution, and it’s tough to tell that they aren’t the original textures.
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If you’re interested in trying out Gaiver74’s AI-enhanced Max Payne remaster, head over to the ModDB page and click Download Now. Once you’ve unpacked the files, copy the file x_data.ras into the Max Payne game folder (if you have Max Payne on Steam, right click the title in your library, select Properties, click the Local Files tab, and then click Browse Local Files to bring up the folder).
Once that’s done, launch Max Payne and set all your texture settings to Medium – Gaiver74 says other graphics settings may crash the game engine or cause flickering.
Then you’ll be set to enjoy Max Payne’s gloomy adventure in glorious, AI-enhanced HD – a prospect that Max himself might find appropriately alienating.