September 12, 2012 by misterblank22
My hardcore gaming life began with Max Payne in 2001 with my Xbox. The N64 and PS1 were my first consoles apart from arcade games in bowling alleys, but I would not have considered myself a “gamer” at that time. I played Resident Evil 1,2 and 3 and Tony Hawk but nothing grabbed me and held on.
Then the painkiller popping, gun shooting, alcohol addicted, over dramatic Max Payne came into my life. It proved to me that games beat movies and books with their stories, or their ability to involve the one experiencing them.
The game was told through comic book panels with Max’s deep gravely voice narrating his horrible life. For instance “The past is a puzzle, like a broken mirror. As you piece it together, you cut yourself, your image keeps shifting. And you change with it. It could destroy you, drive you mad. It could set you free.” I live by that little quote from Max Payne 2.
I had never seen anything like Max Payne in my life. Nothing so dark, nothing so deep and poetic, and it was a game, which is an art form still being looked at by critics as just a stupid hobby with no substance.
I beat Max Payne on every difficulty way too many times, New York Minute mode which is timed became nothing to me. Then came Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne.
With Max Payne 2 came Mona Sax, a character only touched on in the first game. Mona stole the show for me and has influenced me with my writing and character creation. (Also I kind of have a crush on her, she took Fujiko Mine’s place of my female crushes) On their first meeting when Max runs into her in the elevator she tells him “We have to stop meeting like this” and then lets the doors close before he can reach her. From that second on I couldn’t put the Xbox controller down. I had to know why Mona was in this game when she was assumed dead in the first game.
As the story progresses Max falls in love with Mona. But as he does he feels guilty knowing that his wife is dead, he feels he is betraying her for this girl who keeps pointing a gun at him and rejecting him, but the guy cannot help but fall in love with her. He pursues Mona with more determination than the men who killed his wife and daughter in the first game.
Mona abandons her strong ways and independent nature to open herself up to Max also. Then after avoiding certain death the two give into what they have been trying to suppress and deny the whole first half of the game.
But what happens to people who carry guns? They get chased by people carrying bigger guns.
So from this moment on the game transforms Max and Mona into blind lovers jumping from rooftop to rooftop, running through burning buildings to protect each other leading to the climax I hated to see happen. I’m staying quiet on the end so I don’t ruin it for those who haven’t played it yet.
I thought it was all over after Max Payne 2. How could Max do anything else? If he can what will he do? But looking back on it the answer was obvious. Get even more depressed. After two heartbreaks and losing his daughter where else can a man go? Vodka, pills, a foggy haze of intoxication, weight gain, a beard and a nice sunny scenery to wake up to after a night of puking on yourself.
Now comes Max Payne 3. This is the first Max Payne game not written by Sam Lake or designed by Remedy. Rockstar took all control of the game. Rockstar is responsible for Grand Theft Auto, Red Dead Redemption, basically anything a gamer plays today Rockstar has made it . Dan Houser took over the writing of the script which I was actually opposed to at first when the game was announced in 2009 but I was extremely surprised at how much depth he added to Max. He wrote my second favorite Max Payne line “There are two kinds of people: ones that are trying to build their future and ones that are trying to rebuild their past.”
Violence is fully visible in this game. A man being burned alive, people being shot in front of their family but it is not for shock value it is to prove how dark the world can be and how Max’s perception, though a bit warped at times, is right. Enough of constant violence, killing and war makes you abandon your ways for ones you never thought you’d ever run to. You’ll put down your own kid for a gun to make it to sunrise if it will make your kids life better. Max goes back to his old ways of bloodshed to save a girl from painful death or a life where death would be a better option.
My eyes widened with surprise in this game at some scenes, I was shocked at who died next or who betrayed who. But what got me the most was how Max took hold of the situation with a clear head. He didn’t let his personal demons cloud his vision. Nothing he does in the 3rd game is for himself, it is all for Giovanna Taveres and her sister Fabiana Branco. Max forgets about his own misery when he see’s that someone is in a worse place than his.
I’ve aged with Max Payne, I’ve had sad times, I’ve had great times all while the Max Payne games came out. But if I’m ever down or feel that I may have reached some limit I go to Max and smile because that guy is worse off then I’ll ever be and he still gets up in the morning. He usually has a bottle in his hand and a gun but at least he’s up.