The big picture: Upon release, Nvidia's RTX Remix brought fans and independent developers unprecedented modding opportunities. The software can add realistic effects to older games. However, it requires powerful GPU hardware to render all this next-gen graphics goodness.

Modders have been using the RTX Remix platform to improve the visual appearance of seasoned PC games for months. Decades-old titles gain ray tracing, path tracing, DLSS 3 frame generation, and other advanced graphics features to decades-old engines. A recent mod of Max Payne shows how RTX Remix can add impressive effects while demonstrating the computationally intensive cost.

The Max Payne RTX On demo adds path tracing to a game initially released in 2001 during the PlayStation 2 era. A recent video clip of a reasonably gutsy gaming setup depicts how these realistic effects can reduce GPU performance and frame rates by more than 90 percent.

Path tracing renders 3D scenes with detailed global illumination effects. The technique traces every ray of light to simulate shadows, depth of field, motion blur, ambient occlusion, and more. Path tracing is algorithmically simple, but it's a highly inefficient rendering method that was impossible to replicate in a real-time game environment until a few years ago.

Graphics performance in Max Payne goes from 1300 frames per second to a much slower but tolerable 60 FPS on a GeForce RTX 4080 with path tracing activated. Both CPU and GPU utilization levels spike accordingly, and the GPU alone will absorb around 300W of power. Running the mod on anything less potent than RTX 40 GPUs is ill-advised.

The original Max Payne helped popularize the "bullet time" gameplay mechanic in third-person shooters, turning the New York vigilante into an iconic video game character. Remedy Entertainment is developing a proper remake of Max Payne (2001) and Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne (2003).

The indie developers who added path tracing to Max Payne are now working on a larger modding project for the classic shooter. The Max Payne Remixed mod team currently includes three driven modders with a "strong love" for the Max Payne franchise. The team needs some new members to provide 3D modeling and GitHub repository management.