ďMax, dearest of all my friends, I was supposed to be the hero.Ē The platform that upheld Vladimir during the intense firefight finally gives out. It cracks and squeals as the entire thing plummets down. A chariot whose horses dive down into the depths of hell. His own personal chauffeur. ďI had a dream of my wife, she was dead, but it was alright.Ē
The story of Max is a simple one, but to get what it is all about you actually have to play the original. The original was oozing with atmosphere and tension. Maxís character wasnít shy of letting the world burn because to him, the world had already come to an end when his wife and baby were killed. From anger, anguish, and finally sadness, the course of the story corrodes the players mind. This is how it is in Maxís world. He is not going to be happy once he extracts his revenge because nothing would ever bring back his family. He wasnít going to save the princess this time. There was no fix for this, no matter how hard he fights. The mob and corporations standing in his way are just a bread trail, but not the reason for his adventure. By the time you reach the top of the Aesir building, your up there because Horne needs to pay, but in the back of the playerís mind, nothing will come of this. There is no cure for this disease and the only bit of remedy is the fact that it will not cost him a thing.
Through out the six, or so hours we follow Max through the darkest alleys of New York City. A burnt out cop looking for a sign that he is not in some lucid dream where death takes what it wants and no one has a say in the matter. Through out the original Max Payne, Max witnesses nothing more than the worst New York City has to offer. Everything is masked in corruption and those guilty for his familyís death do not feel as such. After the victory at the end of Max Payne everything seemed to be looking up for Max.
Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne starts you off in a hospital not knowing how, or why your hurt, but obviously that victory didnít last. A cloud of pain follows Max wherever he goes and now it first shows us that Max hasnít gotten over any of the previous events. There never was a happy ending. What sets out to be a simple point A to point B adventure quickly turns mad before our eyes as those once thought dead rise. In that first mission where Mona reappears and the writers of Max Payne 2 bend reality and allow the dead to walk, there is a faint flicker of hope for Max, he doesnít have to be a vessel for death. That flicker, even as small as it is, is better than anything Max could find in the cold streets of New York and he latches onto it like a hungry dog latches onto old roadkill. It is that passion that sets the events in motion. By the end, for the first time in 2 years, he has a fighting chance to save the one he loves. This time he is not too late. It brings back anger in full force, anger unlike any felt before. This wasnít his wife, or his girl, but this time he had hope, there was a chance.
By the time the second story starts Max isnít angry. He isnít sad. Rather he doesnít seem too far gone in either direction. At this point it has been two years since the Aesir Corporation was dealt with and Max isnít the same old caricature. He is a human being who knows what loss feels like. The second Max runs into Mona, he is thrust back into the world that ripped him apart, but he remains human through out the rest of the tale. He knows what loss feels like and he has accepted it. He understands itís his curse. Mona brings a passion to Max that makes him feel, not just human, but alive.
Mona never wanted to be the damsel in distress, clearly mentioning it through out the various encounters in the game. She was never meant to be, she knew how to fight and was a valuable asset to Max and the player. As you play as Max, knowing that Mona was helping in some way in some other area was more than enough to feel safe. Despite what Max was feeling the player knew he had help and it wasnít just him against all these henchmen. Near the final stretch of the game and Mona is left out of commission, Maxís anger is directed towards saving her. As Max fights his way to Vladimir, the over arching events donít matter. Woden isnít even on your mind, it is all about Mona. Mona dies and all thatís left is a man who realized even in the cruelest world, there is always hope.
Max witnesses demons and monster beyond our comprehension. He canít win against the supernatural. Max struggles, but he gets torn apart every time. The creatures donít kill him. They let him live, over and over again, they torture him. The night he fought for Mona was enough to make him keep pushing through. The first stage of pain was over and he could move away from his family. Even without their warm there is still a chance for happiness. As he kisses Monaís lifeless lips something dark lets go, his realization that he isnít meant to keep the ones he loves. Everyone he loves is eternally his. He canít let go of them even when he canít save them. They are always with him. In the dawn he is reborn. A new man who understands he canít lift the curse. In the edge of sanity he is left. A better, more battered Mr. Payne.