SOMEWHERE IN NEW JERSEY:
So my head hurts like crazy and I’m feeling sick in my gut as a result of some personal things that’ve got me all worked up and I’m finally alone in my room. A recently borrowed copy of Max Payne 3 sits on a shelf, and I figure what the hell, let’s play the sucker, because hey, look at that guy, he’s very obviously Going Through Some Stuff, maybe I can learn a thing or two. You know, a poignant lesson in what not to do when life is pretty lousy. Or something.
But before I do anything, I have to brood.
For me, brooding is a Max Payne tradition. The original Max Payne may have been the first game I played on a PS2, and so when I first heard the games iconic theme—all dark and moody and wonderfully atmospheric—I thought, damn. I really should do some brooding before I go into this. So I did, both that time and every time I put the game on afterwards.
And then the second game added a string arrangement that was even better brooding music. It’s so good. If I ever auditioned for a spot in the Corleone crime family, I’d use this track.
So yeah. Brooding. It’s important. Especially when your opening credits sequence shows the protagonist drink himself into a very stylized stupor.
I, for one, think it would be kind of great if all of our drunken hazes were done up in Adobe AfterEffects.
So Max is home and drunk, and there are all these cool blur/haze transition effects, and I think that means I’m supposed to be home and drunk too, except I have this headache and really want to take some aspirin but then Max takes all these painkillers (because that’s what Max does) and passes out on the floor and I decide that I really don’t want to emulate any of his life choices at this juncture.
And then, blam. Max is Walter White with some badly mauled dude writhing at his feet.
By the way, have you guys ever seen The Wire? I’m just getting into the last season. It’s pretty good. There’s this guy, Jimmy McNulty. I’d pay good money to play a game with McNulty and Payne taking on street gangs around the world while dual wielding Jameson and 9mms and swearing a lot. It’ll be like 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand, but with more substance abuse.
But we were talking about Bald Max and how he was talking about how he had to kill this guy because that’s who he is and then flashback.
So Max Payne 3 is ostensibly a game about why Max shaves his head. I’m okay with this, because everyone knows that a guy who shaves his head is about to do things that are “Morally Gray” (what we say when a character we’re supposed to like is actually just “Fucking Evil”) and that makes for Good Drama. All of my favorite TV shows have guys who shave their heads at some point, so I’m totally down with this happening in a game.
Now for the game proper: Max is now working private security for wealthy socialites in Sao Paolo. This is his self-described “retirement.” I asked Max why in the hell would he do this instead of, you know, actually retiring, and he grumbled something back about how expensive prescription narcotics are when you eat them like popcorn and that I should just play the game and find out, for Pete’s sake. I told him I was sorry. He said it was cool as long as I try hard to not make him look like a fool during this tutorial mission.
Which is actually relevant because then armed thugs just raid the Penthouse. This is supposed to be kind of shocking, but Max and I just shrug it off—Max because this is kind of simple after having fought through hellish hallucinations to take down a pharmaceutical company headed by Nancy Pelosi, and I because I’ve played Modern Warfare 2 and know that Brazil is where video games take you to get shot.
So Max and I go about stopping them after they make off with a few hot rich people but not without complaining because screw the one percent. And to our surprise, it works. We save them. Good thing, too. It would’ve been a shame if they couldn’t hit up the club in a helicopter in chapter two.
In case you were wondering, Chapter 2 is a lot like chapter one in that young rich people are partying and Max is drinking and I’m wondering why I’m even playing given that my head hurts so much and then angry people start yelling at us in Portuguese whilst firing automatic weapons. Also, this time they get away with Fabiana. I’d say more about Fabiana, but I didn’t take notes for Chapter 2. I think she’s supposed to just be hot and kidnapped, so you’re not missing much. Don’t judge me. Max was drinking the whole time and you didn’t say a word.
Chapter 3, then, is about Fabiana’s ransom, and how Max, his pal Passos, and I go about trying to pay it. In a football stadium—which, in Brazil, might as well be a cathedral, Max observes. So of course a mysterious third party shows up and forces us to blow it all to hell. Max gets shot right away, which is no big deal since he’s been shot “hundreds of times” he tells me, but this one hurts much more because it’s scripted and not my damn fault for sucking at his game.
Max gets patched up by Passos, and I get Max to dribble a ball into a a goal—which was very hard, mind you—but no one is impressed. And then FINALLY A TV.
TVs in Max Payne games are the best. I’d been looking forward to finding one since I started playing. It didn’t disappoint either—I got to watch a great soap opera called Amor E Damas, which I think is Portuguese for Love and Women. I can’t say for sure, though, I don’t speak Portuguese. I speak Spanish. I dated a girl once who spoke Portuguese and she said they were pretty much the same but after hearing lots of Portuguese I think that’s a load of nonsense, and so we had to break up, obviously.
Anyway, you need to watch Amor E Damas. It’s wonderful.
After shooting up a bunch of both Secret Paramilitary and Original Recipe thugs, we make it to a helicopter and escape—but only because a Pragmatic Mercenary tells his partner to not shoot us down with a RPG (the rocket, not the genre). I wonder if he’s seen how much this game cares about showing us where bullets go, and if at some point it’ll render one going through his spleen as he contemplates the folly of not shooting us down when he had the chance.
But that’s for another time. And another life. Because we’re about to flash back even further, so we can make fun of New Jersey and Max’s terrible taste in neckties.
The Max Payne 3 Tapes will continue….