Max Payne 320

Generally speaking, the release dates of big Hollywood movies are set in stone at least two years in advance, since that’s how long it takes contemporary filmmakers to gild their mega-budgeted sequel-remakes with lavish digital effects that will look incredibly lame in five years, if not immediately.* Conversely, the videogame industry rarely abides by release dates. (Except for the Call of Duty franchise, which owns November the way Ben Foster owns January.) So it’s no big surprise that Max Payne 3 — the bigger, balder, Brazilian-er sequel to Rockstar’s storied bullet-time franchise — has officially moved from a planned March release to an actual May 15 release date.

It’s the third straight year that Rockstar has launched a game in that mid-May perch. In 2010, the studio had tremendous success with Red Dead Redemption; last year, L.A. Noire had a healthy launch that nevertheless proved to be a disappointment, although that may just be an indication that people like shooting buffalo more than they like interrogating horrible liars. It’s not clear how the Max Payne delay will affect the release of Grand Theft Auto V, though I’d put 70-30 odds that the next GTA probably won’t hit until 2013. And thus, less than three weeks into the new year, our list of the Most Anticipated Videogames of 2012 already looks inaccurate. Pray for The Last Guardian.

*Of course, if big blockbusters do get delayed, they usually just switch places from Actual Summer to Classy Summer, the action-heavy month between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Not to be confused with Junior Varsity Summer, formerly known as early Spring, when Hollywood releases Clash of the Titans sequels and Zack Snyder movies.

Follow Darren on Twitter: @EWDarrenFranich

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