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Why There Should Not Be a Max Payne 4
I just finished the story playthrough for Max Payne 3. I must say that apart from a few nagging difficult places where I kept dying every sixteen seconds the game was quite enjoyable. It takes us out of the frozen wasteland of New York’s “Hell’s Kitchen” and into the favela slums of São Paulo, Brazil. I picked up this little number on sale as a crapshoot so I wouldn’t be out of pocket too much if I turned out to hate it.
Max Payne is a lasting video game franchise that has stood the test of time. With the graceful narrative wordplay of neo-noir and the gritty overtones of a dime-store pulp fiction the series has never failed to impress. The developers constantly dish out dank and detailed scenarios dripping with atmosphere, coupled with the perfect mix of music to give the needed dose of tension. I’ve played through all of the games and even sat through that disappointing abomination that was the Max Payne movie (I don't blame you, Mark Wahlberg, as you did your job well with the fetid script they gave you. Maybe Christopher Nolan can re-do a proper Max Payne movie with the original game’s script and get Hans Zimmer to compose the score). As you might have guessed I am a fan of the series. So you're probably puzzled as to why I don't believe there should be another sequel.
First a little exposition for the uninitiated.
Despite being the titular hero of the series and a high-powered supercop Max is often shoved into the position of the fall guy. When strings are pulled behind the scenes Max is usually the one that unknowingly gets shoved into the line of fire to take the blame. However, much to the dismay of the bosses on both sides of the law, Max has a way of surviving.
By the end of the third game Max is probably in his mid to late 30's. Now most of us can run around and do some amazing things pretty well in our thirties, but Max is a different case entirely. With the barrage of alcohol, tobacco, and unidentified prescription drugs he's run through his system his heart and liver are probably ready to shrivel up and die. And don't forget the excessive amount of times he's been shot, stabbed, and beaten in the line of duty. Given all the physical and emotional abuse he’s been through by the end of the third game he probably has the body of a sixty-year-old. It seems quite improbable that he would be able to continue his tirade of running through depressed slums, guns blazing, constantly being peppered with bullets.
Maybe there’s a hidden backstory where it’s revealed he’s some sort of high-powered mutant that can quickly regenerate damaged tissue from ingesting painkillers. Please don’t use this idea, developers, as there is already enough suspension of belief supporting Max’s nearly supernatural abilities.
There is also a more personal reason why I don’t want another sequel. Max may be a completely fictional character, but he is so well developed I feel sorry for him. He's had a very hard life. He is a walking pariah. He lives most of his life in the past, because he has to. Nearly everyone he's ever loved or cared for is dead, and anyone that gets close to him usually ends up with the same fate, crumpled up in a ditch or a pine box. He’s been involved in enough horrific violence to fill the medical charts for several platoons’ worth of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder cases. And after all this he has yet to give up; no matter how much he drowns it out with booze there is something inside him that cries out to live.
Here’s a little spoiler for Max Payne 3. Don’t worry, as I’m not revealing any plot twists; I’m just stating the obvious. They don’t kill him off. They’re keeping him alive just in case there is another sequel, and that is what any owner of such a valuable franchise would do.
At the end of the third game we see Max having a lone beer at an unknown beachside bar before slipping a duffle bag over his shoulder and walking off into the sunset. Now maybe only I’m just seeing this, but for a brief period of time we see a look of content on Max’s face, as though he’s decided to finally see the world through sober eyes and live his life for himself.
If Max were to continue on his chemically-induced path of self-destruction, as is customary for this series, he eventually will reach a breaking point, and when that day comes it won’t be pretty. No matter how many times he gets shot full of holes the only person that will be able to kill Max is himself; it’s just a matter of what method he uses to meet the reaper.
I don’t want to see Max like this. I want him to find the peace he’s been looking for, retire like the old soldier he is, and die peacefully in his sleep. Not much of an ending to a legacy, but by this point in his life I think he deserves it.
Should there be a Max Payne 4?
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