Split Screen Series: Reflections on Max Payne 3

Max Payne Pic 1

Split Screen Series is a critical dialogue of videogames by Justin Keever of Virtual Narrative and Miguel Penabella of Invalid Memory, investigating the stories, themes, aesthetic choices, gameplay, and formal properties of videogame art.

Justin Keever: People often forget the utter absurdity of the original Max Payne – the prolix monologues of the eponymous hero obscure a profoundly stupid noir-ish story of an undercover cop with an eternal smirk squaring off against corrupt city officials and Italian-American stereotypes over the distribution of a drug called Valkyr, whose effect is not unlike that of bath salts laced with Scarecrow’s fear gas. Max is forcibly injected with this drug at several points during the game, and in the final of the accompanying “trip” sequences he suddenly becomes conscious of the UI elements that surround him, finally coming to the grand realization that he is a character in a videogame – a realization that he doesn’t seem to carry with him when he returns to a state of lucidity. Neither Max nor the game he belongs to are invested in exploring the implications of this newfound self-awareness; it’s just an iota of absurdity buried in an abundance.

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