Over the last week or so my MMO consumption has gradually diminished, as I found myself fully immersed in Max Payne 3.
If you’ve read my previous entry on male protagonists, you’ll note that I am tired of the archetypal masculine heroes that every mainstream developer throws at us. Of course, some of you may find it comforting to boot up your favourite title at the end of a long day and be immediately greeted with
“Good day to you, brave Sir Knight! The beautiful princess Irrelevantcharacter has been kidnapped by evil beast Bigreddragon! Please go to Distantplace and retrieve her to save us all!”
There is a time and a place for this, however I would like developers to be rewarded for titles that prompt us to ask questions and do more than kill things for which we are materially and verbally rewarded.
So it may surprise you to know that Max Payne 3’s storytelling has me engrossed.On the surface, he is the same as any other male player character: muscled, monosyllabic, a killer whom the player guides through mazes from A to B, shooting everyone that gets in the way in glorious slow motion.
However there is something different with Max:
He is an alcoholic, a proscription drug abuser whose grasp on reality has been severely impaired.
He is a down-and-out, a loser, a has-been, having lost everyone who meant something to him.
Everyone he gets close to ends up dead.
Following the previous 2 games, it is too late for Max to ‘win’ anything – the best that he can do is to fight for his life and hope for something better.
MP3 is a classic case of someone else’s story. I am never fooled into thinking that I am experiencing my own personal adventure – indeed the frequent cutscenes that make you lose control of your character are horribly immersion-breaking.
Furthermore the Noir tropes and aesthetics have been largely cast aside, a daring move on Rockstar’s behalf.
Nevertheless the game has a compelling narrative and reflects the studio’s continued movements to bridge the gap between storytelling in films and interactive entertainment.
This an out-and-out action game that wears its credentials on its sleeve, yet has the player transfixed with one of the first video game characters in my memory to inspire a different emotion: pity.