Max Payne probably isn’t one of the best known characters in Gaming. Compared to the giant figures like Master Chief, Ezio Auditore and Cloud Strife, which leak over into other forms of media like an immigrant through a badly-maintained Border Patrol, (Take THAT America!), the unluckiest man in video games is barely a blip on the influence the industry has had on a global scale.
Despite his depressing monologues, his bitter disposition and desire to solve all his problems with a bottle of Jack, a tub of any kind of pills he can get a hold off, and a pair of badass pistols, he remains one of my favourite characters. He is well written and, though hardly what one could call ‘rounded’, he is amazing at one two types of expression, sheer, unadulterated misery, and a self-depreciating kind of rage that turns into some badass one-liners.. Perhaps the most depressing character I have ever enjoyed to play as, possibly for the fact he is so over the top with it. Sure, other characters have had periods of misery, but when it becomes a character’s entire personality it starts to become either annoying or hilarious.
For example, in Max Payne 3, one villain has been shot in the leg and arrested, then says ‘You know I’ll walk.’ In typical Payne style, the man, the myth, the legend himself, turns to him and says, ‘Yeah, you’ll walk… With a Limp!’ And then stamps down on his injured leg. It’s pretty standard action hero fare, but coming from the wasted figure of Max Payne, who originally looked almost like an American James Bond, it starts to become funny again. Or, at least for me.
Max Payne’s trilogy is a story of tragedy, with every relatively happy ending being slowly dissolved, ever half-victory taken from him, until he’s just an old bald man, with a bad beard, walking away from a mangled corpse on an air-strip. And I love Rockstar for it.