Spoiler Alert - Max Payne 3
Spoiler Alert - Max Payne 3
Max Payne 3 was a fantastic ride through some of the best environments in some of the best (and worst) action movies you've ever seen - from Die Hard to The Last Boy Scout, from Taken to Hard Target, Max Payne 3 is a theme park ride of awesome, all slowed down so you can catch every moment.
Still, it had some weak moments in my opinion - moments I couldn't articulate without spoiling the **** out of the whole thing, and so once again we return to Spoiler Alert, a column where I revisit game reviews a few weeks later to talk about everything without fear of ruining a game nobody has played yet. Spoilers begin after the screenshot.
Max Payne is supposed to die at the end. I get that from a business perspective Rockstar aren't going to resurrect a franchise only to kill it off again immediately. That's a lot of brand building/revitalising for no real gain. Still, the end of Max's saga is that he dies - that's his reward - and so the end of Max Payne 3 is disappointing, because it clearly leads to a sequel.
But that's not the only reason why the end of Max Payne 3 is disappointing.
Max Payne is a man of many vices. He downs painkillers like a hungry hungry hippo with a back problem. He hammers more Scotch than Edward the First. And he has killed more people than Polio (are we making jokes about polio yet?).
Still, as Max made his way through every generic goon in Brazil (and his fair share of Italian American goons back in New York) there was progress. He was working towards his goal - even if that goal appeared to be mass murder.
The game is full of self-aware introspection, of Max realising his inherent futility and casting it aside in his pursuit of his ultimate goal - suicide by goon. Still, there's a moment of clarity and hope about three quarters of the way from the end, when Max decides to cut out the booze.
Previously, people who tried to make sense of things like 'Bullet Time' might have decided that it was Max's peculiar blend of prescription medication and single malt that gave our frowny faced hero his edge - but when Max cuts out the drinking he retains his 'super powers', rendering that observation moot.
This makes his newfound sobriety an important moment for Max. For Max the only time he's not drinking is when he's passed out from drinking - he's never given his hangover a chance to catch-up before.
Nobody decides to compound their attempted suicide by adding a decade-plus of stacked hangover to the ordeal - making the decision to quit drinking active development of Max as a character. It's a step in the right direction - he's trying to pull himself out.
Of course, as I already mentioned Max's reward (and punishment) is dying at the end - so his path out of rock bottom doesn't mean he still won't die. It's a destiny no amount of rehab can alter - but that doesn't diminish the character growth.
At the end of Max Payne 3 though - after Max and Wilson Da Silva catch up with Victor Branco (the guy who was transparently the bad guy the entire time) and arrest him in a scene extremely reminiscent of Bad Boys - Max celebrates his victory with a vacation on a beach some where in Brazil... and he celebrates with a beer.
Now don't get me wrong - as an Australian I understand the idea of a cold beer after a hard day of work better than most. As a games journo I have only a tenuous grasp on what a hard day of work is, but that's beside the point. I get the idea of knocking back a cold one on a beach at sunset - it's a picturesque setting, it has a clear sense of finality to it, and it's a sense of reward.
Except that Max Payne is a pill-addicted, spree-killing recovering alcoholic. Some will argue that a beer is a significant downgrade from multiple bottles of scotch - but let's face the facts... Max isn't stopping at one.
I contend that this ending destroys any semblance of character growth we see through the rest of Max Payne 3. Max drinking a beer at the end of the game is actually worse than him straight up not dying, because it's like punching a reset button on his character to allow the next game to come out with the Max we all know and love.
If gamers can get EA to change the ending to Mass Effect 3, I say we rise up and hold a Rockstar intervention! I want to see an extended ending of Max Payne 3 where the bartender on the beach questions Max about his choice of beverage, and our titular hero's internal monologue sees him swap the beer for a 'soda' instead.
"The bar hosted a tall one, covered in perspiration and full of weeks old alcohol. And then there was the beer. I knew if I didn't push it away then I'd be the same as I ever was - just a washed out lush with nothing but the bottom of a bottle to comfort me."
Or maybe I'm reading too far into this. I don't know. It's 12:30 pm, I think I've earned a beer.
Comments on this Article
Fri 06 Jul 12, 2:01pmsquidassist
Posted: Fri 06 Jul 12, 2:01pm
Fri 06 Jul 12, 2:37pmCheezel_X
Posted: Fri 06 Jul 12, 2:37pm
Fri 06 Jul 12, 4:05pmsquidassist
Posted: Fri 06 Jul 12, 4:05pm
Sat 07 Jul 12, 11:53amCheezel_X
Posted: Sat 07 Jul 12, 11:53am
Mon 09 Jul 12, 1:18pmBonzol
Posted: Mon 09 Jul 12, 1:18pm
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