"The cold night unfolded. In front of me, those eyes, slits of white promising—"
"Max, put a sock in it."
"Sorry, force of habit."
"They were all dead. The final gunshot was an exclamation mark to everything that had led to this point. I released my finger from the trigger, and then it was over."
— Max Payne
Three years ago, NYPD detective Max Payne's wife and baby daughter were killed in their home by junkies strung out on the designer drug Valkyr. Since then Max has transferred to the DEA and gone undercover with the Punchinello mafia family, intending to bring the Valkyr drug ring down once and for all. Then one night, as New York settles into the worst snowstorm in decades, Max's partner is murdered, Max is framed for it, and his cover is blown. With the police hot on his trail, Max wages a one-man war
on the mafia, killing everyone in his way as he gradually unearths the truth behind the creation of Valkyr and the death of his family.
This Third-Person Shooter
from Remedy was an attempt to break video games into an untapped genre, Film Noir
. A mixture of both the film and graphic novel treatments of noir, it featured such stalwart elements of the genre as the hard-boiled cynical hero, the capable and mysterious femme fatale, and the complex plot with myriad linear and tangential echelons of villains, all played under a gravel-voiced narration laden with gothic imagery and twisted arthouse metaphors. There are even a number of references to Norse mythology. The cutscenes were told in graphic novel form, made by photographing the scenes and altering them digitally to resemble watercolor drawings.
The game's biggest selling point, however, was the use of Matrix
-style Bullet Time
(despite the game being in the works before the movie came out), which allowed the player to slow down key points of the game while letting them aim and react as usual, which gave them an edge over the bad guys as well as looking darn cool. The game also impressed with its highly interactive environments, deep soundscape and interesting aspects of gameplay such as playable dream sequences.
Two years later, Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne
came out, in which Max investigates a highly organized and well-funded group of assassins who are wiping out the powerful syndicate The Inner Circle, while becoming entangled with the Circle's possibly-trustworthy-who-knows hitwoman Mona Sax
. This second featured better physics and graphics, actual in-engine cutscenes with new animation beyond the standard AI movements, more varied gameplay (including having Mona appear as a playable character for several chapters), and an original song
by the newly-formed Poets Of The Fall
. It also rewarded patient players with several additional stories they could choose to watch; if Max stopped at the various televisions scattered around the game, he could catch the latest episode of the obnoxious animated series Captain Baseball Bat Boy
, the self-mocking
cop show Dick Justice
, the amusing period soap Lords and Ladies
or the surprisingly creepy, Twin Peaks
-like psychodrama Address Unknown
Due to a combination of Max Payne 2
selling poorly and Remedy getting bogged down
working on Alan Wake
, it took eight years for Max Payne 3
to be developed and released. It was developed entirely by Rockstar, with no design work but constant feedback from Remedy. Set eight years after the end of Max Payne 2
, the third game finds Max, still unable to get over the death of his wife and child, continuing to drown his sorrows with painkillers and booze in Hoboken, New Jersey. Approached by academy buddy Raul Passos, Max is offered a fresh start as a private security guard for the wealthy Branco family in São Paulo
, Brazil. Unfortunately, he hardly gets started when a band of favela Gang Bangers
try to kidnap patriarch Rodrigo, before successfully capturing and ransoming the employer's young wife, requiring Max to set out to get her back. However, things get complicated fast by paramilitary extremists hostile to both sides, and what's the deal with the infamously Brutal Military Police
special forces? As things go From Bad to Worse
, Max has to kick his addictions, sober up, and pick up the thread before it's too late for his charge.Max Payne 3
received quite favorable reviews from critics and fans, though it didn't sell quite as well as expected. Early reports indicated it was doing well despite being released on the same day as Diablo III
, but it was later indicated that it had underperformed in brick-and-mortar sales. This doesn't account for direct-download purchases on Steam and elsewhere, though, so it can be assumed that the game has been at least a mild success if not the overwhelming one that Rockstar had hoped for.
As a promotional effort for the third game, three short digital comics were slowly released
. The comics are in order, After the Fall
, Hoboken Blues,
and Fight and Flight
. The comics are published by Marvel Comics
, co-written by Rockstar's Dan Houser and Max's creator Sam Lake, and deal with Max's early life, his courtship of his wife Michelle, the aftermath of the second game, and the period between the second and third games.
A movie based on the characters was released in 2008 to poor critical reception, but modest commercial success. Related tropes should go to its separate page
The Trope Namer came like a hurricane.
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- Absurdly Spacious Sewer
- Accidental Misnaming: In the Hoboken Blues comic, the bartender at Max's local dive bar mistakenly calls him Matt even when corrected.
- Action Bomb: During the third game Max finds himself on a roof confronted with numerous enemies. Luckily, he has an ace in the hole- a detonator rigged to blow up the support structures of the building itself, which will take the whole thing down. Threatening to activate it, Max holds off the bad guys... for about thirty seconds until he gets pissed and decides to blow up the building despite the fact that he's still on top of it.
- Addiction Powered: The insane crime boss Jack Lupino overdoses on Valkyr and takes an ungodly amount of lead before he bites the dust. Justified much later by The Reveal that Valkyr was originally developed by US military to create Super Soldiers, working exactly as planned.
- This and Reality Ensues apply to Max in 3, where it is revealed that the previous games' mechanic of taking painkillers to heal damage taken in battle has left him with a crippling addiction. Despite Max' substance issues, the mechanic is retained in 3.
- Adrenaline Time: Present in 3 as part of the Quick Melee kills. The parts in Over Crank are pauses that require input from the player to continue the attack, while the parts in Under Crank display the effects of the player's input.
- Adult Fear: The entire premise of the series, which not only has Payne's wife and baby daughter killed, but later leads to him being framed for getting too close to the truth, leaving him all alone in a Crapsack World with no-one to trust. Despite seemingly tying up all loose ends in the first game, it gets worse (hence the sequel).
- Adventures in Comaland: Max practically has dual US-Comaland citizenship.
- Aesop Amnesia: Well, not exactly a specific aesop, but the writers have had to reset Max's internal struggles with each game to keep the conflict going. At the end of the first game, Max is pretty satisfied with himself, and has Woden promising to get him out of trouble. In the second Max reveals he wants to be punished for his crimes, and that he's still miserable, having lied to himself that it was over; the conclusion has Max getting justice after tying up any loose ends. By the third, he's still dwelling on the life he can't return to, and is now a depressed drunk who has been run out of town by the mob. The conclusion of the third averts this (as of yet) as Max finally comes to terms with his past and gets the break he's earned.
- Agree to Disagree: Said word for word by Vladimir to Max in the second game.
- The Ahnold: Max Heat, an adult movie actor whose film is being watched by a couple of mooks in the 'A Mob-War' level in the second game.
- Air-Vent Passageway: Played with in 3: Max climbs into a large vent that can accommodate him, which then collapses because it's not meant to bear human weight.
Max: I was trying to work out what direction i was headed in when I discovered some more Brazilian architecture not designed for the American physique.
- A.K.A.-47: Averted, all the weapons are referred to by either the correct name, or the manufacturer. The only exception is that Max's sniper rifle is just referred to as "Sniper Rifle". Played straight, aside from a few weapons, in the third game.
- Alas, Poor Villain: Invoked by Max in 3 toward Serrano. Even after putting Max through hoards of gang members and killing an innocent woman, Max is willing to put it past them and let Serrano live (and let him have his revenge) cause he has "paid enough." Just to clarify, in this case, that means having his organs harvested while still being kept alive to assure a fresh product. Compared to Max's usual punishment of a bullet in the head, he suffered far worse than Vladimir Lem or Nicole Horne did.
- The Alcoholic: In the second game Bravura is a recovered alcoholic. He believes Max has a drinking problemnote .
- Max has descended into alcoholism as of the third game, and about midway through begins the struggle to quit.
- All Love Is Unrequited: During most of the cutscenes you see him in, Marcelo Branco in 3 complains about being in love with a woman who won't return his affections. If you pay attention to some of his actions in said cutscenes you'll find that the woman in question is implied to be Fabiana
- That would explain why he defies Victor and shows up in the favela with Rodrigo's $3 million, to try and rescue her a second time.
- All Your Base Are Belong to Us: Inverted in 3, where Max does this to the villains after wiping out the entire UFE battalion at their HQ.
- Played straight much earlier in the same game when the Fabricas Branco headquarters are destroyed by a Crachá Preto detail and Bachmeyer, though Max manages to slaughter them all anyway, or rather, just all of the Crachá Preto detail.
- Almost Lethal Weapons
- Always Close: The finale of the 'Deep Six' level in the first game.
- Always Night: The events of the first game takes place during the three nights. Max misses the daytime between them being drugged or knocked out.
- Ambiguous Situation: Just what Max Payne has become by the end of the third game is increasingly hard to describe, especially as his narration becomes more detached and contemplative. The game veers from a look at the "stranger in a strange land" and the stark contrast of the gloom behind the glitz and becomes a stark reflection on the value of Pay Evil unto Evil as Max gets closer to the horror and sobers up. By the end of the game, he's done a good thing, and is satisfied with the end result, but whether that makes him a good person is left unanswered.
- American Title: The first game has chapters called "The American Dream" and "Waking Up From the American Dream."
- Ancient Conspiracy: The Inner Circle may or may not be this. When asked about it, Vlad claims they are just another group of criminals who like to act like they are an Ancient Conspiracy, but in the Asgard Building "there were rows of cabinets, full of files." And Max claims that "The serpentine secret society went back a long way, always pulling strings from the shadows". Besides - Vlad had plenty of reasons to lie to the guy he was about to kill about the organization he sought to take control of. And Woden states that, due to Vlad's rebellion, the Circle was "reduced to fighting mob wars". Whatever it is, they definitely are a Government Conspiracy, with all these Senators in cahoots with them.
- Animation Bump: From the first game to the second, and an even bigger one to the third (which sorta drops the graphic novel portions in favor of a TV-esque filter with shifting colors and static lines that break into Panels in a graphic novel fashion).
- Announcer Chatter: Any time you or a teammate activate a burst, or a vendetta is started/settled, Max will chime in with something appropriate.
[Big Dog burst is used]
Max: Their second wind came like a hurricane.
- Anti-Frustration Features: In the first game, the final part requires an explosive weapon and a sniper rifle. Two mooks will inexplicably have these just in case.
- In the third, in some cases your health will reset to full if you die and need to go back to a checkpoint, even if you were on the verge of death when you trigger it. Subsequent deaths at the same spot will give you extra painkillers. You'll also get additional ammo, just in case ammo shortages are the problem.
- During a Last Stand, Max will do more damage, and all means of protection, like bulletproof vests and face shields, will be disabled, meaning it can be an easy way to kill minibosses by entering last stand and shooting through armor. Naturally, some bosses are immune (they'll flinch, but they'll keep gunning for you).
- Also, for most of the Achievements/Trophies where you have to kill a certain number of people during a scripted Bullet Time sequence, there will be a checkpoint immediately beforehand, allowing you to retry immediately rather than slog through part of the level first. Said sequences will also give you Bottomless Magazines with no need to reload, but rate of fire remains the same so you're SOL if you only have a slow-firing handgun.
- While in slow-mow (either normally or as a "shootdodge") the screen will flash, quickly but noticably, everytime you've killed an enemy, so you know to move onto the next target or cease firing.
- Anti-Hero: Max: he always goes after unrepentant, evil, evil villains, but there's no mercy in him - he's not above torture, pumping fifty rounds into a dying enemy, or simply walking into the nearest bad guy joint and blasting it up.
- Arc Words:
- The opening monologue of each game includes the phrase 'they were all dead'.
- In part one: "The flesh of fallen angels." Usually spoken by junkies tripping balls on V. In particular, Jack Lupino loves this phrase. It is later used in the fun house in part two.
- In part two: "...dearest of all my friends," spoken by Vlad to Max and other people whom he ultimately betrays.
- Each Part of the story also has a name that tends to relate to the overall situation.
- Max Payne 3 lacks the arc words, using Title Drops Once A Chapter instead.
- Armor Is Useless: Averted in the third game, where armoured paramilitaries and Dirty Cops are noticeably harder to kill than unprotected favela gangbangers or mobsters. The extreme of this are the thankfully rare Heavily Armored Mooks that are Immune to Bullets centre mass and can only be killed with headshots. It's especially obvious when Max goes to the UFE HQ and fights both the armoured frontliners and the unarmoured desk jockeys; the latter are much easier to kill.
- Arrow Cam: Employed whenever Max or Mona use a sniper rifle. The third game includes slo-mo bullet hits for some enemies, usually the last one in a group.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: When Max finds Nicole's computer, he says, "Hacking through Horne's computer would have unearthed criminal plans, strategies for world domination, spy helicopter reports, illegal wire tap recordings, Internet porno, all of the above, take your pick."
- Artificial Stupidity: Cleaners in the second have a tendency to run after their own grenades. Halfway referenced by Max:
- Many Mooks in the first game won't run if you throw a grenade at them.
- If you throw a molotov cocktail at a door opening or a tight corridor, chasing mooks will run across it and die.
- Some mooks armed with grenade launchers might use them in point blank range.
- Art Evolution: In the first game, all the characters in the graphic novel sequences were played by random dudes from the programmers' offices, and it definitely shows (the goofy grins that everyone sports in the supposedly "serious" scenes is a pretty big giveaway). In the second game the character models were based on actual professional models, giving the cast a more polished, if less unintentionally amusing, appearance.
- Art Shift: In the first game, the Captain Baseball Bat Boy series is a Peanuts-esque newspaper comic with the titular character being a Charlie Brown lookalike. In the sequel, it is in the style of a Saturday Morning Cartoon, and the titular character is now in full-on super-hero getup, wearing a mask, a cape and wielding a laser baseball bat. By the third game, Captain Baseball Bat Boy is now a children's cartoon with cliffhangers and anime-esque visuals combined with current day cartoons.
- Ascended Extra: Vladimir Lem and Vinnie Gognitti get upgraded from bit parts to major characters central to the plot in Max Payne 2.
- Atomic F-Bomb: In 3, after Max fails to stop Victor and Becker from escaping at the police station, he yells out an INCREDIBLY angry "GOD DAMMIT!", with surprisingly little Narm.
- Autobots, Rock Out!: About midway through the final level of the third game, in a relatively difficult section with a large gauntlet of enemies, the song "TEARS" kicks in.
- Awesome but Impractical: The Grenade Launcher in 3 will One-Hit Kill any mook. Multiple, in fact, with its blast radius. But that also makes it suck in close quarters. You can't carry much ammo for it. Furthermore, the slow projectile speed means you are almost always screwed if you get Last Man Standing'd while using it, because the grenade won't detonate before Max dies.
- Awesome McCoolname: Max Payne. Several characters, including villains, lampshade this.
Frankie: Max Payne. I envy your name.
- The Bad Guys Are Cops: In 3, the UFE.
- Badass Boast: To Neves in the third game.
Max Payne:"Well, your 'powerful people' aren't gonna help you out of this one, buddy."'
- Badass Bystander:
- On one level in the ghetto, a random civilian SUV drives by an alley you're stalking through. If you are particularly trigger-happy and shoot it, it will crash and the driver will come after you, guns blazing.
- In an early level in the second game, you have the ability to rescue a prostitute and a wino (who happens to be an ex-maverick cop) from a burning building. Both are carrying pistols, and will gladly take on the mob with you.
- There's also an old lady with a shotgun.
- The third game introduces Brewer, a nutty survivalist of a neighbor in Max's new apartment in Hoboken. He blows the face off a mob assassin to save Max, then detonates a suicide vest in the hallway to "cleanse them in fire" and blows up a good half-dozen mobsters.
- Badass Beard: Max's scruffy beard in the third game, though it's also a Beard of Sorrow.
- Badass Mustache: Bravura.
- Badass Normal: Mona Sax's ability to mow through mooks can be explained by the fact that she's a professional assassin. Max Payne is just a detective, and how much he survives over the course of all three games is... yeah. He's probably killed more than one thousand people by the time the credits roll on Max Payne 3.
- Bad Dreams: Boy howdy, does Max have these. Often, these segue into horrifying things, and the levels in the first game move into Scrappy Level territory.
- BAFTA: The first game won one. No really.
- Bag of Spilling: Max is twice relieved of all or most of his weapons in the first game, and three times in the second. Generally Justified (captured by bad guys, left for dead, in a hospital, etc). The third game constantly justifies it with most missions taking place on different days and Max showing up with the logical equipment for the job, instead of meeting his boss with a grenade launcher strapped to his back.
- In the later levels of MP3, Max's inability to hold on to his arsenal gets to the point where it's almost worthy of an Alan Wake-style running gag. At various points in time, he's robbed at gunpoint twice, disarmed by captors, arrested, and ditches all of his bigger guns in favor of a silenced 9mm.
- Bang Bang BANG: Averted with the 9mm pistol, which actually sounds fairly like the real thing. Played straight with every other gun, though.
- Bank Robbery: Max stops one of these near the beginning of the first game, completely unintentionally (he was there for a meet with Alex about something completely unrelated).
- Batter Up: Captain Baseballbat-Boy and Frankie "The Bat" Niagara. A baseball bat is also one of your possible melee weapons in the first game.
- Battle Couple: Max and Mona in the second game, where the last half of the game involves them fighting through Mafia goons.
- Beard of Sorrow: Max in the third game, after becoming alcoholic, having lost Mona, and being forced to abandon his home to some third-world shithole.
- Bedlam House: Pink Bird Mental Institute in Address Unknown in the second game.
- Bench Breaker: In the first game, Max waits until Franky is out of the room and then falls backwards on his chair in order to crack the wood.
- Benevolent Architecture: Every single door in the city of New York seems to be double-hinged.
- Berserk Button:
- In 3, Max kills a mob boss' son, and has to fight his way out of New Jersey then New York as a result. The reason he did it? The asshole hit a woman brave enough to stand up to him.
- Later on, that button gets pressed down and taped into place when he discovers the organ harvesting ring. Max has never been this angry, which is saying something.
- BFG: The Pancor Jackhammer in the first game. The Striker-12 shotgun and Mona's Romak PSL in the second game. The M82 anti-materiel rifle, RPD and HK21E in the third.
- Big Bad: Nicole Horne, Vladimir and Victor Branco in parts one, two and three.
- Big Bad Friend: B.B. in the first game, Vlad in the second, and Victor in the third.
- Bigger Bad Victor Branco is behind the events of the third game.
- Big "NO!": Max does this after his family was killed in the prologue.
- The Big Rotten Apple: The first two games are set in New York, using fictional locations. The third has flashbacks as well. Max actually name drops this trope in the lead-up to Jack Lupino's suite.
"This was the rotten core of the Big Apple."
- Bilingual Bonus: Given that the third game takes place in Brazil, it's natural that much of the dialogue spoken by enemies and side-characters isn't in English. Max doesn't speak Portuguese, so the subtitles provide no translation.
- Notable in that there is so much flavor dialogue in Portuguese (and Spanish).
- Knowing what enemies are shouting can also give you a slight advantage in combat, although most of what they say are threats and profanity.
- Some Brazilian players noted that Raul's accent & pronunciation seemed "off" for a native Brazilian. Later on its revealed that Raul is actually Colombian, and had been lying to Max as part of Branco's plan to hire him.
- Bittersweet Ending: Well, it is Film Noir. To be specific:
- In Max Payne 1: Max kills the head of Valkyr, saves the city and destroys the drug itself, avenging his family. However, the grief of losing his family still haunts him.
- In Max Payne 2: Max defeats Vlad and survives, but several of his police force/friends are dead, and Mona dies from a gunshot wound. While Max is grieving, he begins to overcome his depression.
- In Max Payne 3: Though he fails to save Rodrigo or Fabiana, Max exposes the organ theft ring and brings Victor to justice, defeating the UFE and disbanding them. Victor is found guilty, and a few weeks later is found hung in jail, either out of severe depression, or murder. Max has finally moved past his wife and daughter's deaths, and can finally relax.
- Black Comedy
- Black Helicopter: Shows up near the end of the first game. Trying to fight it is suicide (it has a minigun, you don't), but you still have to do it (just once, though).
- Black Knight: 3 alludes to the idea with the Cracha Preto Hired Guns. The name is Portuguese for "black badge", and according to supplementary materials they used to be lawmen who blacked out their unit insignia before going on Vigilante Man sprees.
- Bling-Bling-BANG!: Golden Gun parts can be collected for use in single-player and multiplayer in the third.
- Blood Knight: Max Payne hates admitting he's one but, dear god, is he ever.
- Blown Across the Room:
- When you use a shotgun, count on Mooks getting this treatment.
- In the first game especially, a kill shot from any gun will do this.
- Bodyguard Betrayal: Happens to Alfred Woden near the end of the second game.
- Also to Rodrigo Branco in the third.
- Body Horror: Remember the old Max from the original with the slightly closed eyes and constipated face? Yeah they put it in the second sequel as an updated model, look at it in all it's realistic glory here◊
- Also from the third game, allowing Becker to die of his injuries unlocks the "Bad Day Becker" skin in Deathmatch, which is Becker with the same horrific burns he had after being defeated by Max.
- Boisterous Weakling: 3 has Victor, who, after having their ass handed to them to unbelievable lengths by Max Payne, tries to boast. It doesn't end well:
Victor: [laughs] You know I'll walk.
Max: YOU'LL WALK WITH A LIMP!
[Max stomps on Victor's knee, fracturing his shinbone through the skin]
- Bond Villain Stupidity: Inverted in 3, where Max has Becker at his mercy and slowly strangles him rather than just give him a 9mm headache. This gives Victor Branco time to show up. Max does it again immediately by holding off on disarming the newcomer until the first villain is recovered enough to stun him, allowing both villains to escape.
- Book Ends: In the second game. Less explicitly, "Dearest of all my friends."
- Border Patrol: In 3, if you wander too far from your principal during an Escort Mission, a mook will pop up from nowhere and gun him/her down unceremoniously.
- Boss Subtitles: Done for the introduction of every major character of the second game.
- Bragging Rights Reward: In 3, some unlockable rewards aren't too unreasonable, but the unlimited Bullet Time needs you to get all gold awards in Score Attack, while One-Hit Kill needs you to beat Hardcore, and goodness forbid you want to go for the extra character models...
- Brains and Brawn: Max and Da Silva in 3. Without Da Silva, Max would have long lost the trail, making his gunfighting skills little use, and as Da Silva notes, without Max to act as an iron fist, he would at best be ineffectual and at worst made an example of.
- Brand X: Various "Kampela" products in the second game. The word is Finnish for a flounder fish, by the way. Weirdness.
- Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: In the final mission of 3, Max needs to turn on the power to get a tram so he can get to his destination. When he does, he quips:
"It worked. The trams were running again. Maybe they'd take me to my gate. Maybe they'd bring more guys wanting to whack me. Maybe both." It's both.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall:
- During the second Valkyr nightmare, Max reads a note telling him he's in a graphic novel. The cutscenes are told in a graphic novel format, and that particular scene even shows a a previous cutscene laid out like a comic page. The second letter read in this section tells Max he's in a computer game◊. It even hangs a lampshade on Bullet Time.
- Smaller funnier moments ensue by interacting with the environment: blast an alarm or an elevator speaker and Max will thank you for it; he'll even play rimshot on the drums, and try (unsuccessfully) to play the Max Payne theme on the piano.
- In the third game, if you linger around the tram terminal too long without activating the power, Max gets fed up and directly calls the player (you) an "asshole".
- Breather Episode: After a few action-filled levels, you are occasionally given a level where there is no enemy threat (e.g. a dream sequence, a fun house, etc.) Not that those levels keep you comfortable.
- Brick Joke: Part I of the first game is entitled "The American Dream". Part III of the second game is entitled "Waking Up from the American Dream."note
- Broken Ace: Pretty much Max's thing in a nutshell.
- Broken Bird: Mona Sax. Her twin sister was tortured to death, and she was shot in the head. She's fine in the second game though... right?
- Brother-Sister Incest: Referenced in the "Lords and Ladies" Show Within a Show in the first game.
- Bullet Time: The Trope Namer.
- Bullying a Dragon: In 3, when the bad guys initially (try to) kidnap Max's principals, they could be excused for not knowing how much of a Badass Max was. When they attack his principal's office to kill Max, specifically because he's killed so many of them (or so an interrogated mook claims), you start to wonder why on earth they're Too Dumb to Live enough to be so bent on provoking him.note
- Occurs later too, when Victor decides to taunt Max at the end of the game. You think that would be the very last thing someone would do after their private jet was blown out from under them. Oh, does he pay for it.
- In the flashbacks, the Jersey goons know full well who Max is, yet they still harass the guy even though by all rights he should be well known as a notorious mass murderer to anyone in the vicinity of New York. Max just ignores them until their ringleader hits a woman who was standing up to him, at which point he proceeds to massacre them all.
- Cain and Abel: In the third game, Victor Branco's desire to gain control of the family fortune leads him to pull this, on both of his brothers no less.
- Call Back:
- In the first game, the code to the D-6 district of the bunker was "665," to which Max quips "neighbor of the beast." In the second game, the code to the 7th floor of the apartment buolding is "667," and when the guy who tells it to Max makes the same joke, Max replies "yeah, I get it."
- A hugely subtle one, on one of the clues in the mission where you go through the swamps to get the girl, the ransom note where she was held says "Mona" in slightly larger letters than the other words.
- Captain Baseball Bat Boy makes a small appearance in the third on a tv.
- The New York graveyard nightshift worker looks and sounds suspiciously like the janitor with the walkman who hummed Late Goodbye in 2.
- The third game takes Max to a decrepit apartment full of gun-toting neighbours, a luxury flat high-rise, a junk yard, a garage, a classy nightclub, a warehouse, a police station with a jail block, an explosive- and bodybag-packed condemned building, a slum, a subway station, and a shipyard. Again.
- The incredibly rich, powerful, influential, and manipulative villain attempts an airborne escape, but is shot down explosively.
- In the nightclub level of 3, one of the random bystanders that gets killed happens to be a famous soccer star. In a later level at the local stadium, you find a memorial to him, and you'll find more as you work your way through the favela.
- The Call Knows Where You Live: Max declines a job working for the DEA because he wants to live a life that won't cause his family any undue grief or worry. Then he comes home and finds his wife and infant daughter dead, murdered by Valkyr junkies. The orchestrator of the attack calls the house to verify if her goons carried out the hit, to make it all the more literal. Sure enough, next time we see Max he's a DEA agent.
- Calling the Old Man Out: Vlad to Woden.
- Callousness Towards Emergency: Justified in the first game, since the lady at the other end is the Big Bad.
- Camera Screw: Quite a few times in 3, the camera just refuses to let you see who landed the fatal hit. Cue ignoble death from not being able to use Last Man Standing.
- The Capital Of Brazil Is Buenos Aires: Invoked with Passos: he's revealed to be Colombian, not Brazilian, in order to lure Max to Brazil as hired muscle. Max even comments on his phony accent after it seems Passos betrays him.
- Captain Ersatz: 3's U.F.E. are heavily inspired by the BOPE of Rio de Janeiro.
- The Comando Sombra were likewise inspired by a real-life São Paulo gang called the PCC, as well as Rio de Janeiro's Comando Vermelho.
- The Galatians soccer team is apparently this universe's equivalent of Corinthians: not only are the logos similar but the Epistle of the Galatians immediately follows the Epistle of the Corinthians in The Bible.
- Catch Phrase: Vlad calls almost everyone "dearest of all my friends".
- Catapult Nightmare: The narrator of Adress Unknown wakes up screaming from his encounter with his dark double and the pink flamingo.
- Cerebus Syndrome: While the series overall is pretty dark, the third game lacks the small comedic conversations between the mooks and the meta-jokes are almost completely cut away.
- Changed My Mind, Kid: In 3, Passos flies off with Giovanna without waiting for Max. Later, Max finds himself at a mercy of a paramilitary thug, only for the man to come back and bail him out.
- Character Title: Although it makes a pretty effective pun as well (since that's exactly what happens to Max's foes).
- Chekov's Gun: In 3, the ransom money lost at the tradeoff comes back later - brought to the kidnappers by Fabiana's brother-in-law.
- Chekhov's Gunman: In the first level of 3, Bachmeyer, Becker, Da Silva and Dr. Fischer show up, well before they're formally introduced.
- Halfway through the game, Max spares Serrano, the killer of his employer's wife for no apparent reason. He later turns up in the ruined hotel, having suffered a Fate Worse Than Death.
- Chickification: In the original Captain Baseball Bat Boy strip, Bicycle Helmet Girl is probably the only character in the strip's brief run who Captain Baseball Bat Boy couldn't defeat because of her protective bicycle helmet. In the episode of the Show Within a Show The Adventures of Captain Baseball Bat Boy in the second game, Bicycle Helmet Girl is more of a snarky Faux Action Girl. In the episode seen in the third game, she's a flat Damsel in Distress who immediately cries for the title hero's help the moment there's danger.
- Clear My Name: Max's primary objective in the first game is to find out who actually killed Alex Balder, a crime that he's framed for in the fourth chapter of Part 1. He ends up killing almost a thousand people.
- Cliché Storm: Oh, yeah. Max lampshades this in his narrative monologue: "Nothing's a cliché when it's happening to you." Invoked, both in the story and with the Show Within a Show (and self-parody) Dick Justice, which is a blaxploitation, over the top take on Max Payne.
- Climbing Climax: End of the first game.
- Clothing Damage: During the last level of the third game, Max starts out in a casual business suit getup. By the end of the mission the shirt is basically three tatters of clothing hanging on, and the rest of the outfit is covered in debris and his and others blood.
- Cluster F-Bomb: Vinnie Gognitti. In the first game, it's a Cluster Frick Bomb. The sequel gives us the genuine article. Vladimir Lem lets out a good number of F bombs too, mostly when things start going sideways for him.
- Coincidental Broadcast: Some fictional TV shows have a suspicious similarity to events that unfold (or appear to unfold) in-game. Examples include Address Unknown, where a serial killer is observing his detective shortly before you reach the hideout of the assassin spying on you.
- Cold-Blooded Torture: Max tortures Gognitti in order to find out Lupino's whereabouts in the first gamenote .
- Passos in 3 tortures an injured gangster to find the location of some stolen ransom money.
- Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: Near the end of "The Great American Savior of the Poor" in 3, the pillars that Max has to place C4 on are red.note
- Concealment Equals Cover: Zig-zagged. Some things that obviously can't take bullets, like cubicle walls, will be destroyed by gunfire, but others, like yacht hull or the ever-popular residential walls, can take them seemingly forever.
- Continue Your Mission, Dammit!: In 3, hanging around in an area for too long after all enemies have been cleared will result in Max telling the player to keep moving on.
- Also an implied Timed Mission in the second and end of the twelfth chapters, despite the lack of a countdown timer. Waiting too long to advance to the next area will result in a Game Over.
- Continuity Nod: Max guessing that he'll find the third game's final boss (Victor) at an airstrip. "Rich people love to fly away." In the cemetary flashback, you can find the graves of Max's family, Detective Winters, Vinnie Gognitti (or what was left of him to bury) and Nicole Horne.
- The police sketch of Max during the news broadcast of Rodrigo's death is of his appearance in the first game, complete with squint and slightly raised eyebrow.
- Continuity Cavalcade: Max Payne 3's mission "Ain't No Reprievement Gonna Be found Otherwise." Everybody's buried in the same cemetery.
- Convection Schmonvection / Hollywood Fire: On both games you have to navigate through burning buildings and the heat isn't a problem at all. If you touch the flames, however, you get damaged. In the sequel, characters at least cover their mouths against the smoke. A section of the third game takes place in a bombed building that's badly damaged enough to be practically melting under the heat, but Max and the enemies don't seem to mind much even when walking on glowing red beams. Max can still die from air loss if he fails to escape in time.
- Cool, but Inefficient: The laser sight attached to some of the weapons in the third game actually makes your aim actively worse. It may be realistic to have the laser jumping around when shooting, but still.
- Cop Killer: Max's real problems start not when he loses his family but when he is framed for murder of his fellow DEA agent. Gangsters in this game are cannon fodder that die in droves and no one really cares, but one dead officer is serious.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive:
- Nicole Horne.
- Victor Branco in 3.
- Couldn't Find a Pen: A hidden room in the first game reveals a staked mook trying to spell out BUFF-
- Coup de Grâce: At the end of the first level in Max Payne 3, you see some UFE members do this to downed gangbangers, the first sign that something's up with them.
- Cowboy Cop: Max is this in spades, especially in the first game. It is even lampshaded by Max himself when he is both investigating and attempting to escape from Jack Lupino's sleazy hotel. When Max enters Rico Muerte's room he discovers a letter from Don Angelo Punchinello regarding Valkyr which is the first time that definitive evidence of the Don's involvement has been found. Instead of collecting it, Max simply crumples up the letter and drops it on the floor stating that "Collecting evidence had gotten old a couple of hundred bullets back. I was so far beyond the point of no return that I had forgotten what it looked like when I passed it."
- Crapsaccharine World: 3 initially takes place in the beautiful, rich areas of Brazil, only for Max to later delve into the corrupt, crime-ridden underworld Hidden in Plain Sight from tourists and the rich.
Max: Nothing quite like the view of extreme poverty to make a cocktail penthouse party really swing.
- Creepy Monotone: Max himself, especially in 3 when you see him with the Thousand-Yard Stare he exhibits at times while doing this.
- Crime of Self-Defense: The mob boss in 3 wants to kill Max for killing his son, who wanted to kill Max unprovoked.
- Critical Existence Failure: Max never actually heals himself in any way. He simply chugs down painkillers. By the end of the game, he could easily have taken enough damage to empty his life bar a hundred times over and be full of so many bullets you'd have trouble finding something to shoot at that was still him, but as long as he can't feel it, he's fine and dandy. But should he suddenly be in a position where he feels actual pain, he falls over in slow motion.
- Cruel and Unusual Death: The Cracha Preto horribly murder Marcelo by necklacing for no real reason, when a gun or knife would have sufficed. Victims of necklacing executions can live for over fifteen minutes after ignition. Giovanna mentions that it's done so that UFE has an excuse to raid the area.
- Crusading Widower: Max.
- Cry for the Devil: In-Universe — In 2, Max seems regretful over killing Detective Winterson, even though it later becomes clear that she was Vlad's lover and actually working against Max. It's even implied that Max feels so remorseful over his choices because Winterson was in the same position as him; finding her grave in 3 has him expand on this, noting that killing Winterson because he still loved Mona is one of his bad calls he's still trying to bury.
- Cutscene Boss: In 3, there's Neves (the leader of Crachá Preto) who holds Max at gunpoint and then gets shot by Passos, his Dragon Milo Regos who is defeated by Press X to Not Die and Victor Branco who you don't fight in person, merely blow up his plane.
- Cutscene Incompetence: The third game has many situations that look like they're set up so the player can get the drop on the enemy, only for Max to bump into something or walk out in the open before the player regains control.
- One of the early occasions in the third game has Max lampshading his "natural grace and finesse". Given the sheer amount of times he gives himself away as well as his in-game tendency to dive into furniture, walls, and fixtures, it would seem to indicate that he is indeed something of an oaf.
- It seems that the third game's mechanics (possibly purposefully) deny any sort of stealthy or strategical approach—the enemies will home in on you the second you move or even come within a dozen feet of anyone, walls, barricades or cover be damned.
- Cutting Off The Branches: Max Payne 2 has two endings: the first one in which Mona Sax is fatally shot by Vladimir Lem and dies in Max's arms after he fails to save her, and the other one that can be obtained in "Dead on Arrival" mode, in which she survives being shot. Sadly, however, the former one turns out to be canon and carries over to Max Payne 3, in which Max still feels grieved at the loss of Mona, who had been killed nine years ago; and he has since been dismissed from the NYPD trying to nurse his alcoholism and addiction to painkillers.
- Cycle of Hurting: Possible in the third game. If you get sent into Last Man Standing in a bad position with multiple enemies covering Max, you could kill one guy and exit LMS only to have the others send you back. Repeat until you run out of painkillers.
- Definitely happens against the Elite Mook with the LMG in Chapter 6. If you can't figure out how to beat him, it's very likely if you get shot you'll get thrown into LMS. Shooting back only makes him briefly drop to his knee and if you get tagged in the open, you'll probably get shot up again before getting behind cover.
- Da Chief: Bravura, in the sequel.
- Damn You, Muscle Memory: Despite the third game's more closely resembling Gears of War-style cover shooters, there is such a very tiny amount of Regenerating Health - about enough to survive a glancing bullet or two, and only if you already have taken so much damage that a mosquito bite would kill you (completely red health bar) - that you cannot afford to play it like Gears.
- Also, those used to the common control scheme of other recent Rockstar Games titles may find themselves accidentally going into shootdodge when trying to take cover.
- An in-series example as well; on the PC, the first two games activated bullet time and shoot-dodge with the right mouse button. Now all that does is aim from cover, and those are done with separate keyboard keys.
- Dark Action Girl: Mona Sax.
- Darker and Edgier: Arguably the second game (see Indecisive Parody).
- The third game is this in spades, it's much more gritty in comparison to the first two games.
- Dead Man's Trigger Finger: Can happen in the second and third game to mooks wielding a single one-handed weapon, particularly if you shoot their legs out from under them just before they fire at you.
- Deadpan Snarker: Max adds lots of snarky comments in his monologue during levels. And Mona isn't exactly snark-free herself.
- The woman on the phone in the opening scene who we learn later on is Nicole Horne
Woman: Is this the Payne Residence?
Max: Yes! Someone has broken into the house, you have to call the cops!
Woman: Good. I'm afraid I can't help you.
- Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: Notably inverted in 3; now that saving is automatic (thus ruling out Save Scumming as an option) in order to prevent the game from becoming unwinnable, dying repeatedly will grant the player a few clips of ammo and/or more painkillers.
- Death Seeker: Max is this in 1, implicitly intending to kill as many criminals as possible before he dies. The discovery Nicole Horne is responsible for his wife and child's murder, however, gives him the catharsis to stay alive. Later, in Max Payne 2, Mona Sax does the same. In Max Payne 3, he's mostly just holding onto life via inertia.
- Deconstruction: 3, in it's entirety, is a deconstruction of Max himself. In 1 and 2, Max was a hardened, cool-as-ice badass, whose families death drove to become a Berserker, Bullet Time Badass who wades into battles with little more than a few guns and painkillers, yet somehow manages to survive. 3, however, makes Max's constant suffering more than a plot point, makes him fat and old, and moves him into a setting where his gung-ho "shoot first ask questions later" attitude gets him into even further trouble. Max feels legitimate grief for killing all the people across the games, and several of the issues he comes across, (mainly the deaths of Marcello, Fabiana and the mobster bosses son) could have been avoided entirely if Max had simply stopped and calmed down. The whole of 3 basically takes Max and shows the audience that being Max would fucking suck.
- Reconstruction: However, towards the end of 3, the story begins to show that despite Max's attitude and choices getting others killed, he can actually work for the betterment of others by exposing the organ harvesting ring and that all the people he kills are pretty shitty people, and were killed in self-defense. Max also get's over his self-pity, and realizes that despite all the shit he has gone through, he can still move on and live with his life.
- Decoy Leader: Max kills a lot of people, mistakenly thinking they're behind everything, only to find out that he aimed too low, and subsequently going after the next person on his hit list.
- Defector from Decadence: Villainous example in 3, where supplementary material reveals that paramilitary leader Neves used to be a cop but quit because he wasn't making a difference against the criminals.
- Department of Redundancy Department: In the third game Max makes a comment when he picks up painkillers, it gets grating when he laments on his obsession at least 10 times in slightly different wording.
- Despair Event Horizon: Max starts the second game on the cusp of this. By the end, he's gone so far over it that he actually breaks out the other side.
- Detective Mole: Detective Winterson in the second game.
- Determined Defeatist: Max goes through the entire first game knowing perfectly well that there are only two outcomes for him: either being killed during his Roaring Rampage of Revenge or being put away for life upon completing it. In fact, after he goes free thanks to The Man pulling a few strings, he considers himself to be a Karma Houdini, and subsequently suffers for it.
- Determinator: Rampaging through hundreds of enemies while subsisting only on painkillers. In the second game, Max squares his badassness and determination: He gets shot in the chest, thrown off a high cliff, is next to a bomb when it explodes, and ultimately gets shot in the head with a magnum, and not only lives from all of these incidents, but keeps on truckin' to get shit done. Damn. Early in the third game he even takes a glancing shot from a .50 BMG anti-materiel rifle and all he needs is some painkillers and bandages to get him back to normal.
- The Dev Team Thinks of Everything:
- Several times in the series dallying when Max is under pressure will have him continue to talk about how he needs to keep going and standing around is wasting time.
- In the second game when Max is attacked at his apartment, you can use the phone to call Winterson and report what's going on. It has no effect on anything and there's no prompt, leaving it to the player's initiative to try. And if you do, later in the level when you find recordings of Max's phone calls, the call to Winterson will be included or not depending on if you called her earlier.
- In the third game: Missed the hiding enemy in the soccer stadium's tower? Well he jumps out and gets ready to kill Max, then Raul takes over and does his Arrow Cam for him. As an extra bonus, it's just optional as you can kill the enemy yourself if you know where he is.
- Depending on the height and material, what you land on after a bullet dodge can hurt you extremely, but if you are on stairs however, Max slides down them on his side harmlessly.
- When Passos is hiding from the guards in the sniper segment, if he gets caught, there is a unique kill scene depending on where he is at the time.
- In the finale, you and DaSilva are in a car together, and you must fend off other vehicles. He will point you to a group of thugs to your right. But if you look left, he will say "Your other right!"
- Dirty Cop: The entire UFE in the third game, who are essentially the private army of the Big Bad and in cahoots with outlawed paramilitaries to organ-harvest the poor. Ironically, despite Rodrigo dismissing him as another of these, Da Silva is the only one we see onscreen who isn't.
- Disposable Woman: Both Max's wife and daughter were Disposable women in the classic sense. Mona and Fabiana become examples as well.
Max: I still hadn't forgiven myself for the Mona business, but I knew that was just grief. The insanity that comes with losing the life you had once built...
- Do with Him as You Will: When Max is confronting Arthur Fischer, the surgeon who works for the organ thieves, the meeting is interrupted by a visibly disturbed and angry Serrano, who has been imprisoned along with the other unfortunate organ-theft victims. Him and Max exchanges stares, and after a moment of consideration, the latter lowers his gun and gives a knowing nod to his former enemy, allowing him to kill the doctor with a scalpel.
- Driven to Suicide: Victor Branco hangs himself when he gets incarcerated in the epilogue of the third game. At least, it appears that way; it is implied it also could've been a faked suicide as retribution, or to silence him. Having friends in high places is a double-edged sword...
- Dull Surprise: The uninterested "Aaaaah" sound the Mooks make when you kill them. Many people also commented on Max's strangely constipated expression in the first game.
- Ear Worm: Both the game's theme tune and the song "Late Goodbye" by Poets Of The Fall in the second game. The latter is also an in-universe example, as various characters in the game are heard singing it or playing it on pianos.
- Edge Gravity: 3 is pretty good about using invisible walls to prevent you from falling off places to their death. The game won't stop you Shootdodging off them, though.
- Elite Mook: Each game has a variation. The first game has Punchinello's Trio (Pilote Providence, Joe Salem and Vince Manano) as well as Nicole Horne's goverment agents, the second has Vlad's personal guard, and the third has the UFE, and the occasional heavily armored soldier.
- Elevator Action Sequence: Inverted; the elevator rides are often a heaven-sent chance to reload, let the painkillers kick in and generally draw breath. Until the very last level. Look up, through the glass panel in the roof of the elevator. Yep, those are claymore mines lining the shaft.
- While Max is riding a glass-walled elevator down in the last level of the first game, a helicopter shows up and starts blasting away, forcing him to jump to another elevator.
- Enemy Mine: Vinnie, during the Escort Mission in Max Payne 2. He changes sides because a bomb was strapped inside his costume.
- Enemy Chatter: You can listen in on the mooks talking about action movies and TV series.
- Escort Mission: In Max Payne 2, to the irritation (or amusement, considering who the escortee is) of many players. The third game also has an annoying one involving covering Passos with a sniper rifle as enemies keep coming after him.
- An interesting inversion in the third game; Max is seriously wounded in an ambush and can barely limp along as his partner clears the route of enemies.
- There are also other missions in the third game, such as escorting an IT guy to a server room that seem like they might be this at first. But the escorted will stay far out of the way of fire and the enemies focus on you, making this more of a subversion.
- Everybody's Dead, Dave: The very first line of the first game: "They were all dead." Also occurs in the third game during the attack on Branco's building after telling Rodrigo to close up his office...
- Evil Albino: Bachmeyer.
- Evil Counterpart: Max and Mona for Vlad and Winterson. Even their clothing colors mirror each other, and the criminal/cop genders are reversed. Note also how Winterson and Vlad apparently can't keep their hands off each other, while Max and Mona barely touch the other. Except for that one scene.
- Evil Is Not Well Lit: Aesir Plaza and, in particular, Nicole Horne's demonic-looking office. Ironic, since the building is designed to resemble a hyper-modern office. Played completely straight with Jack Lupino's club Ragnarok N Roll.
- Evil Twin: Mona jokingly describes herself as Lisa Punchinello's evil twin when she and Max first meet (though considering Lisa is the wife of the Don of an incredibly violent Mafia family...).
- Evil Versus Evil: In 3, Max finds himself caught between favela gangbangers, paramilitary thugs and indiscriminately Brutal Police, none of whom have any love for each other. Or do they?
- Exploding Barrels: A stab at realism is made by using gas cylinders, and only putting them in areas where there's a reasonable explanation for them being there. Shooting at them causes the valve to pop off and a jet of flame to appear at the neck (probably Truth in Television if they're full of acetylene), sometimes letting you use cylinders that have fallen over as field-expedient cruise missiles. Then they explode violently for no apparent reason except Rule of Cool.
- Eyepatch of Power: Senator Alfred Woden wears a half dark glasses of political power. This, along with the name, helps feed the speculation that he's really Odin.
- Face-Heel Turn:
- Vlad, though he was never really a face, just on Max's side for a time.
- Passos seemingly pulls one in 3; when Max confronts him, it turns out he was in it for the money, but didn't realize it was as bad as it is. He promptly pulls a Heel Face Turn and rescues Max.
- Facial Composite Failure: In Max Payne 3, Max sees a newscast that reports that he is wanted for questioning as the unidentified man that has been seen leaving Rodrigo Branco's blown-up company headquarters, the report also shows a facial composite that looks almost nothing like Max in-universe, but fans of the series will recognize it as the constantly constipated Max Payne from the first game that was based on Sam Lake's face.
Max: "Oh, Jesus... Look at that!"
- Fake Difficulty:
- The third game has a habit of dropping you out of cutscenes with a few dozen mooks shooting at you at once and overriding whatever you have equipped with a single handgun. Some times, it'll even take away your painkillers during a mid-level cutscene for no good reason.
- Mooks are completely fearless, to the point where they will never retreat when shot and never take cover while being targeted by blindfire. This means it's impossible to force them to duck before trying to get a bead on their position, like every other cover based shooter in existence.
- There are no grenades available for Max to use in the single player campaign aside from the Grenade Launcher. This is really dumbfounding because mooks use them all the time and they're a major component of online multiplayer.
- Fake Nationality: In-universe: Raul Passos from 3 is actually Colombian, whereas Max believes him to be Brazilian - which was a ploy to get him hired for Branco.
- False Flag Operation: The Cracha Preto from 3 use gang-style executions in order to create the impression that the Gang Banger problem is worse than it actually is, and thus encourage people to hire their services.
- Family Values Villain: The second game has Vlad, who in both games tries to confine his battles to fellow criminals. It doesn't work, as Vlad's indirect connection to the killing of Max's wife and daughter, and his attempts to kill off Mona and the inner-circle result in Winterson's death and the two friends being forced to kill one another. Even lampshaded by Max:
Max:Vladimir was one of those old-time bad guys with honor and morals, which made him almost one of the good guys.
- Victor Bronco is running on a right-wing law and order ticket, but is actually heading both an organ theft ring, and pitting paramilitary groups against eachother to frighten people into voting for him. He also had his brothers murdered to gain access to the family fortune
- Fashion Victim Hero: Intentionally invoked with Max in the third game, probably in order to show how much his alcoholism has affected him (though well within realistic bounds). He's seen wearing an extremely wrinkled gray suit on two different occasions, the second time after it's already been soaked through with sweat and probably blood. After his sobering up, he dresses in a pretty goofy Hawaiian shirt/cargo pants getup before finally putting a little effort into his clothing choice (a simple black suit, white shirt, and tie) near the end of the game.
- Fatal Family Photo: Subverted in Max Payne 3 by Anders Detling. Max stops him from showing him a picture of his wife and kids after finding him in a nightclub restroom during a kidnapping, and he makes several more appearances all the way till the end of the game completely unharmed.
- Flushing Edge Interactivity: The games have toilets and many other objects than can be activated just for the sake of it.
- Foregone Conclusion: Thanks to the flash-backy and flash-forwardy nature of the games, we know from the very beginning that Max ends up on the top of a skyscraper, armed and surrounded by police, in the first game; winds up in a hospital, having sent Detective Winterson to the morgue and getting Bravura wounded in a shootout in the second game; and baldly ends up with a horribly mutilated man at his mercy in front of a burning hangar in the third game.
- In 2, Max starts feeling contempt for Vlad even before he stabs him in the back.
- One of the TVs you can watch during the third game mentions an attack on a boat in the Panama Canal. Towards the end of the game, one of the levels takes place during the attack and you get to learn why the boat was attacked in the first place.
- From the Panama level itself, Max makes a comment in the opening cutscene that he should really quit drinking so much, stating that he'll ruin his liver if he doesn't. Passos says that if that happens, he could "always get a new one." The next level has Max discovering the organ harvesting ring.
- Also from Panama, Daphne Bernstein mentions that Marcelo is going to be the death of her.
- A minor one, but when Max is trying to let air into the engine room on Daphne's yacht, he says he didn't care if he got shot the second he got out of there. Guess who's waiting for him outside. Yeah, two pirates with guns.
- In the aftermath of the failed kidnapping that kicks off the third game, when UFE arrives, you can see police officers executing wounded gang members, instead of arresting or calling for paramedics, signifying their lawlessness and disregard for life. This is exactly why they go after Max halfway through the game, and foreshadows them being part of the conspiracy.
- The plastic surgeon at the party during the first level is the doctor who is harvesting the organs on behalf of the UFE and Victor.
- Forgot About His Powers:
- In Chapter 2 of the second game, Max will single-handedly clear out an abandoned office building full of cleaners. Then he's forced to leap out a window to avoid an explosion, and the rest of the chapter is spent playing as Mona providing cover fire for Max. He'll get pinned down behind barriers several times over the next several levels and will be helpless until Mona can take out the lone man firing on him. The implication is that the impact to the head that ended his section knocked him for a loop, and he's still not up to his usual strength.
- In 3 Max finally tracks down Fabiana as wells as Marcello, both held hostage by multiple gangsters, as he knew they would be throughout his entire investigation. He has the element of surprise, is heavily armed, and he's...well, Max Payne, a dynamite gun fighter who makes Time Itself his bitch when he has to. He walks directly into the room, gets disarmed, captured, and his failure gets both of the siblings murdered in front of him.
- Also in 3, there's a portion where you have to take a sniper rifle and guard Passos as he runs from paramilitary thugs. Somehow, Passos forgets that he's a perfectly capable gunman and doesn't bother picking up any of the guns the dead goons drop.
- For the Evulz: After UFE is called in after Fabiana's murder, Max witnesses them tear up an entire neighborhood - initially, just the Comando Sombra, and then anyone they see, civilians and Max included. Max even lampshades this.
- From Bad to Worse
- Referenced by Max in the first game, after he finds out about Project Valhalla — specifically, the truth about what happened to his family three years ago.
- In Max Payne 3, Max is living with the harrowing agony of having an unlimited bank account in a dream job most of us would kill for. He treats this with the amount of angst you'd expect. Then of course things get worse.
- Game-Breaking Bug: The French version of the first game sold with Steam is infamous because it always crashs at specific points of the game (including the loading screen between the first and second levels), and French Steam-users are forbidden to buy the bug-free English version of the game. Despite this bug being well-known and reported to Steam, it has never been fixed. It is possible to manually correct the problem by replacing the level files with uncorrupted ones.
- Gameplay and Story Segregation: As noted under Hyperspace Arsenal. A few other examples pop up from time to time.
- Max is shot by a sniper in the arm pretty early on in the third game and shows realistic reactions to it like numbness and shock, but any other time in the game he gets shot it's like getting hit by a BB gun as it only leaves blood spots, which leads to hilarious moments in otherwise dramatic situations when Max comes in looking like he just came from a paintball fight.
- As in Grand Theft Auto IV when the mooks just stumble when they get shot, the mooks have an...interesting way to react to being shot. Near the end when you fight the armored enemies, when they get shot, they fall, and when they do that, they end up spinning around in a circle as they get turned into a bullet sponge.
- You find golden gun parts in the strangest places.
- Probably one of the more infamous examples. During the favela missions, Max barges straight into a hostage situation and gets the Distressed Damsel killed, having conveniently forgotten having a Bullet Time ability the has use for cutscene to gameplay transitions.
- Gang Bangers: The plot of Max Payne 3 is kicked off by favela thugs trying to kidnap Max's principal. They come back for seconds and Max keeps clashing with them, though they eventually get superseded by better-equipped foes.
- Genre-Busting: While the gameplay is fairly standard third-person shooter fare, the games as a whole are a curious blend of Film Noir (specifically neo-noir), Hong Kong action films and conspiracy fiction.
- Genre Savvy: Is what Da Silva in 3 proves to be, as his motivation for using Max to do his grunt work is that he is aware the heads of the conspiracy will pull a He Knows Too Much on him if he investigates it any further himself. Max is already known to and targeted by the conspirators and is actively tearing them down, so he points Max in the right direction and lets him do all the work.
- Giant Mook / Heavily Armored Mook: In Max Payne 3,Max fights a few of these at various points throughout the game (at the office building, the derelict hotel and the police station). They're armed with light machine guns and can survive almost Juggernaut-levels of damage before going down if you don't get headshots. There're actually two varieties: One can take multiple headshots, doesn't flinch from body shots and gets a cutscene whenever it shows up, while the second only needs one and can be knocked down.
- Golddigger: Max's opinion of Fabiana.
- Her husband's opinion of Fabiana.
Rodrigo: She does not love me for my body.
- A Glass in the Hand: Max does it rather indifferently in 3 to show just how much of a mess his life and body are in.
- 3 opens with a heavily injured Becker covered in burns and minus an arm desperately trying to escape a ragged and bloody Max.
- Pretty much what happens to some mooks after Brewer's suicide bombing.
- Happens to Fabiana's brother-in-law, Marcelo, who is set on fire and burns to death, screaming and Max has to watch the whole thing without being able to intervene for fear of alerting the paramilitaries.
- Gosh Dang It to Heck!: Characters don't generally very strong language in the first game, preferring to use "freaking" in place of actual profanity. In the second game, not so much.
- Government Conspiracy: Project Valhalla.
- Grey and Gray Morality: You can count on one hand the number of people throughout all three games in the series that could be considered truly "good" people, and Max is certainly not one of them.
- Guide Dang It: At one point in third game, you must shove a file cabinet over to escape a burning building. Trouble is, you have to have Bullet Time engaged when the prompt comes up for it to work-otherwise, Max will simply heave futilely against the cabinet.
- Gun Porn: The guns have detailed animations, which was uncommon in third person shooters at the time of the first game. They also make pretty sexy sounds while reloading during Bullet Time.
- Guns Akimbo: A mainstay of the series since the first game, which allows to Max equip a pair of his signature Beretta 92F pistols or MAC-10 submachineguns. 3 expands the functionality of this gameplay mechanic, allowing Max to equip any two one-handed weapons together. This allows the player to fire, say, a magnum revolver or a Sawed-Off Shotgun alongside a machine pistol.
- A Handful for an Eye: Done by Max in the third game.
- He Knows Too Much: The reason Michelle was marked for death in the first game. In the third game, Da Silva is Genre Savvy enough to know this will happen to him if he digs too deep, so he points the much more combat-competent Max in the right direction instead.
- Hellhole Prison: The UFE prison in 3 is one, if the widespread abuse of prisoners is any indication. There's also a quick glimpse of a prisoner who hanged himself/was hanged in his cell that no one seems to care to take down.
- Hero Insurance: Averted, Subverted, and played straight.
- Explicitly explained in the first game. In exchange for killing Nicole Horne, Alfred Woden promises that no charges will ever be filed against Max for any of the murders he's committed in his quest for revenge. Quite justified, because Woden needs something to offer to Max.
- One wonders how Max managed to beat the rap from his antics in the second game, given that he kills hundreds of goons, actively assists a wanted assassin in killing even more goons, and Act III outright has Max being hunted for shooting his partner. Plus, Woden gets killed near the end of the game leaving Max without any friends in the power elite to bail him out. For what it's worth, everyone Max kills is either a mobster or secret society rent-a-commando actively trying to murder him, and his partner was literally in bed with the Big Bad.
- Taken to extremes in the third game, where Max essentially massacres the entire São Paulo police Special Forces division, right before shooting down a powerful politician's private jet with a grenade launcher, and one week later is shown walking off into the sunset unburdened. Then again, unlike the previous two games, Max is never caught by the police, and there are no living witnesses to his actions, and it also helps that a local cop works with Max to expose the fact that the politician and police Special Forces were pretty much engaged in systematic mass murder against the city's poor population and criminal element.
- Newspaper clippings in the third game indicate that Max was fired from the NYPD for the events of the second game. This makes sense as There's a recording on Vladimir Lem's answering machine of Detective Winterson promising to kill Max Payne. So he wouldn't be guilty of murdering his partner but it's unlikely he'd be forgiven for the body count he left behind.
- He Who Fights Monsters: By the end of the third game, Max seems to seek and find fulfillment in [constructive] violence, rather than being guilt-ridden and brooding over his body-count. Surprisingly, this is a positive development, since life has forced Max Payne to return to his kill-racking ways over and over again. Given that he can do so constructively (e.g., by taking down government conspiracies), being able to feel proud of (or even just being able to accept) what he has accomplished, violently or not, is one of his healthier responses.
- Max basically invited The Call in by the third game, as he shoots the Jersey Shore wannabe gangster who happens to be the son of a crime boss, and he makes it his mission in the third to get Fabiana back.
- Hired Guns: The cleaners in the second game. A whole army of them.
- The Crachá Preto in the third.
- Hit Scan: One of the first games to make a big deal of averting this; all of Max's weapons fired modeled projectiles, the bullet-time mechanic was created largely so you could see this more clearly.
- Hollywood Silencer: Zig-zagged when Max duct tapes a water bottle to his pistol in 3 as an improvised silencer. While it's superior to any real life improvised silencer, it only lasts for a few shots before totally deteriorating (albeit three or four more shots than a real life one could take) and becomes useless after.
- Surprisingly averted in an earlier chapter as, despite using a pistol with a real suppressor, it still makes enough noise to attract nearby attention.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: In 3 you get several chances to shoot grenades or rockets out of the air, killing the original user in the process.
- How We Got Here: The first game opens immediately after Max kills Nicole Horne, and then flashes back to how he got involved in the whole thing.
- The second game start right after the conclusion in Woden's mansion, then flashes back to Max in the hospital after his shootout with Winterson earlier that night, which serves as the first level of the game. At the end of the level, Max finds her body, which causes him to flash back againnote to the events that led to the shootout in the construction yard, starting with a routine mission the previous night. By the time that flashback ends, there are only a few levels left of the game, which are spent telling how Max wound up at the conclusion.
- The third game opens with Max arriving in Brazil, before jumping forward to Max's final-act revelation as he stands over a severely burned Becker; the late-plot-Max then has a flashback to the early days of protecting the Branco family, and later has flashbacks-within-flashbacks involving him being chased out of New Jersey and a shady job he did in Panama.
- Hyperspace Arsenal: Max can fit a ludicrous number of guns in his jacket in the first two games, but it's averted in the third game. He can carry one large rifle or shotgun and two smaller weapons (also letting him mix and match them, so he can carry an Uzi and a revolver, one in each hand if you wish). Max will even realistically carry his longarm in his off hand due to the lack of a sling, even during cutscenes. And if he needs to go Guns Akimbo, he has to drop the long gun. The game even edits cutscenes to take account of whether or not Max entered the scene carrying a rifle and has to put it down or have it taken, and he later carries a duffel bag throughout a level.
- I Call It "Vera": Played with. The evil commando calls his gun "Dick Justice."
- Idiosyncratic Difficulty Levels: Popular in the series:
- 1&2 have Fugitive/Detective (first/second game); Hard Boiled; Dead On Arrivalnote ; New York Minute (Time Trial); and Dead Man Walking (Endless Game).
- 3 has (in order): Easy; Normal; Score Attack; Hard; New York Minutenote ; Old Schoolnote ; Hardcore; and New York Minute Hardcore.note
- Idiot Ball: In Max Payne 3, Max is apparently so drunk during the Panama mission that he completely overlooks how suspicious Passos is acting, and only starts realizing how hinky the entire thing is in hindsight, when he's sober and talking about it two months later with Da Silva. It's possible he reacted to finding the ship's passengers' bodies by crawling even further into a bottle and has been trying not to think about it at all.
- Also when Max sees Fabiana and Marcelo being held at gunpoint by Serrano and his cronies, he carelessly busts through the door, turns his gun on Serrano, yells at everyone to drop their weapons despite the fact that he's outnumbered at least 12 to 1 and he almost immediately gets disarmed and Fabiana gets shot as a result, wouldn't it have made more sense for Max had shot Serrano and his mooks through the window? then maybe he could've saved her.
- Although in this case he couldn't see half the mooks in the room as they were out of view from the window.
- Giovanna herself is not the brightest bulb in the box. When you free her from the gang and have to shoot your way out with her in tow, she repeatedly does dumb things like running out of cover while snipers are targeting her, or inside a new room before Max can get there and make sure it's mook-free. In her defense, she's not at all used to being shot at and was probably going haywire from the adrenaline.
- Max notes how stupid he's being throughout the game. In the final level, he even points out exactly how stupid his plan was and how a perfectly sensible one was available. The implication seems to be that Max has something of a death wish and/or is an adrenaline junkie and/or his substance abuse is really screwing him up.
- Some of Max's dialogue hints at a desire for some much needed catharsis for which he requires a (not unjustified) bloodbath. This would account for his "path of most resistance" mindset in the latter half of the game.
- During the third game Max gets jumped and stripped of all his guns in no less than three ocasions because he goes into a room in what can only be described as a war zone and lets his guard down without even bothering to check wether said room is even empty, much less secure. This, of course, is all done during cutscenes, where control is wrested away from the player.
- Idle Rich: Max's opinion of the entirety of the Branco family in 3. He's right about Fabianna, but Marcello takes the entire cake.
- Ignored Epiphany: Max in 3 ignores the moment of clarity he had at the end of 2. It's bitterly lampshaded up and down the game.
- I Knew There Was Something About You: When Max Payne busts down the door to face Vinnie Gognitti, Gognitti tells him "I knew from day one there was something screwy about you!"
- Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: Lampshaded by Max during Mona's section in the second game:
Max: "They have hit everything but me here. If you don't hurry they'll eventually shoot me by accident."
- Painfully averted in the first game, where enemies can peg you in the face with a pump-action shotgun blast from the other end of a football field, and in the third game, where some soldiers can drop smoke grenades that don't impede their aim at all.
- Important Haircut: Max shaves his head in the third game after failing to prevent a kidnapping and murder, as part of his attempts to sober up. Interestingly, he elects to shave his head of hair off, but not his Beard of Sorrow. Possibly as a reminder of his screwups, to motivate himself to kick his alcohol habit completely, or maybe just because he didn't have a lot of time on his hands.
- In Memoriam: The first game was dedicated to Gathering of Developers * founder Doug Myres, who died a couple months before the game's release.
- Indecisive Parody: The first game goes back and forth between over-the-top, tongue-in-cheek parody of gangster movies and film noir (replete with cartoonish villains and melodramatic Private Eye Monologue) and darker, more serious fare, such as Max's dream sequences. The second game, however, is much more consistently serious in tone (with occasional flashes of black comedy).
- Infant Immortality: Gruesomely averted in the first game. We see a bloody crib and what's left of Max's baby in the very first level.
- Ink-Suit Actor: People might not initially be aware, but in Max Payne 3, young Max looks an awful lot like his voice actor, James McCaffrey. It seems that this time around, Rockstar modeled the character after his original actor instead of either Sam Lake or Timothy Gibbs.
- Indecisive Medium: The comic book cutscenes.
- Inspector Javert: Bravura in the original game was out to capture Max Payne. Even ignoring the fact that he was framed for Alex Balder's death, Payne killed at least a dozen mooks before that scene, and hundreds after.
- Instant Death Bullet: A few scripted sequences in the third game have enemies die in one shot, regardless of where you hit them. This also happens in Last Man Standing, unless they're wearing armor.
- Insurmountable Waist-Height Fence: Despite being armed with enough pistols, shotguns, assault rifles, and grenades to field a small army, Max is helpless against locked wooden doors and plywood barricades. Made all the more frustrating when the time comes for you to blast open locked doors or shoot apart plywood barricades, but the game only lets you do this to specific ones that bar the way forward.
- Interface Screw: In 3, the game has constant flashes of color and blurryness to emphasize that Max is completely wasted most of the time. When he cleans himself up, they tone down somewhat, but there is still a reaction when he downs a bottle of pills.
- Internal Monologue: Max, constantly (very much in the style of Private Eye Monologue). It even leans on the fourth wall at times where, if you shuffle your feet in moving towards the objective, Max might make a quip in his own style that encourages you to press on.
- Ironic Nursery Tune: heard in Max's first nightmare along with his dead baby's cryings.
- Irony: In 3, you get the chance to visit the New York cementery, where Max' family (from 1), Detective Winterson (from 2), Nicola Horne (from 1) and Vinnie Gognitti (from 1 and 2) are buried. They all have... very suggestive epigraphs about their lives and deaths:
- Winterson: Death Has Many Faces. Winterson had been two-faced to Max and got killed for it.
- Horne: An Angel Who Fell From The Sky. Horne was not only a fallen member of the Inner Circle, but also a mythological stand-in for Lucipher, who too fell from heaven as an angel. Appropriately enough, she also slammed back onto Earth in her helicopter in the first game's ending.
- Gognitti: His Flame Burned Brightly To The End. The very aspiring Gognitti ended up dying a very fiery death.
- It Gets Easier
- Joisey: Max is actually very happy with his little Jersey-side home in Max Payne 1, describing it as "The American Dream come true". Then the plot happens.
- By Max Payne 3, he's very resentful of the area.
- Just One Man: Nicole Horne describes Max this way.
:What do you mean, "he's unstoppable"? You are superior to him in every way that counts. You are better trained, better equipped, and you outnumber him at least twenty-to-one. Do. Your. Job.
- Karma Houdini: Possibly Serrano. Then again, by the time Max finds him, he's had most of his organs ripped out, can barely see, and can barely walk. After Max lets him stab the sick surgeon who was harvesting organs from live people, if he survived Max's explosion, he wouldn't have much longer to live.
- Victor taunts Max at the end of the third game claiming he'll be this. Not so much.
- You never get to cap Anthony DeMarco Sr. for all the grief he gave Max, though you did leave him in great grief.
- Karmic Death: Nicole Horne gets killed when her chopper is crushed by a tower (courtesy of Max) just when she was about to escape.
- The doctor doing the organ harvesting in the third game is killed when one of the people he was going to harvest kills him with a scalpel.
- Serrano from the third game, in all likelihood.
- Kick Them While They Are Down: In 3 enemies will attack Max while he's sprawled on the ground. You can return the favour on downed enemies and have no reason not to.
- Kill 'em All: By the end of the second game, every single character whose name is uttered (including every character who merely has his name mentioned once in conversation, such as gangsters, cops, hitmen and bystanders) is dead, except for Max, a badly injured Lt. Bravura, and, in one out of three cases, Mona Sax. Then Bravura dies of a heart attack in the Hoboken Blues comic and Mona is all but confirmed dead. By the end of the third game, it gets a little bit better, with Passos, Giovanna and Da Silva surviving.
- Kinda Busy Here: Max in the second game's mission where both him and Mona storm the Mook's hideout.
- Large Ham: Jack Lupino in the first game. Vladimir in the second. Anthony DeMarco, Sr. and Serrano in the third. Max is an odd sort of ham whose consistently moderate hamminess is what makes him so very hammy (and downplayed slightly in 3).
- Last Breath Bullet: In 2, Winterson pulls a non-lethal variation when Payne fatally wounds her, only for Winterson to shoot him in the back before dying.
- Last Stand: What Max will try to do in 3 if he has extra painkillers, and takes a shot that maxes out his pain meter. Slow-motion automatically activates as Max falls down. Kill the enemy who maxed out the pain mater, and the painkillers will be used to keep Max alive. Fail, and he dies.
- Le Parkour: Early in the first game, Max chases Vinny Gognitti over and across several rooftops, while the latter has a motherlovin' gunshot wound to the belly.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall:
- In the third game Raul asks Max to push the button of an elevator. As Max does so, he replies "What am I, the button pusher?" and Raul says "Yeah, you're so good at it. Good job.", also making fun of how tasks like these are often left to the player and rarely performed by NPC's. Lampshaded in one of the final levels in the third game, after Max pushes yet another button.
Max: I was getting good at this.
- During the first flashback level in New Jersey (one of only two times the player returns to the New York and mobster-filled scenes of the first two games), one of the random lines for Raul if you take too long to move forward says "Look, I know you're enjoying this nostalgia trip, but we gotta go."
- When you interact with the piano in the abandoned hotel with the organ theft operation, Max finishes playing the series' theme, then says it's the soundtrack to his life.
- Mad Bomber: Vlad's general schtick.
- Made of Iron:
- Just give him some painkillers, and Max can walk off anything. In cutscenes, he's survived a lethal overdose of Valkyr, having his skull used for batting practice, wandering through the worst snowstorm in New York's history without even buttoning up his coat, getting shot in the head (several times, once with a Desert Eagle), falling off a cliff, and having high-powered explosives detonate with him standing nearby. The third game introduces bullet wounds (including exit wounds) for both Max and the enemies, so it's not uncommon for a cutscene to have Max littered with holes and still going about business as usual.
- In the first game, Elite Mooks and bosses could survive truly incredible amounts of damage before dying. The second game tries to be a bit more realistic and averts this, with even kevlar-wearing commandos going down with only a few shots from a decent automatic weapon. The second game also mostly does away with boss fights; Kaufman is the only real "boss" in the game, and even he only has about 4 times as much health as a regular Mook, while the final opponent is largely a Puzzle Boss fight.
- The Mafia: Most of Max's villains. The Punchinellos have seen better days: It's implied that Angleo's restaurant, which includes a second floor ballroom, has fallen on hard times, and the mob-controlled block of tenements is a pit of vice and decay. Max laments the hotel as a "sad old thing", a kitschy relic from the seventies which the gangsters never bother to maintain.
- The Mafiya: Vlad's other schtick, though it turns out he's fighting for control over the Inner Circle in the second game.
- Man in White: Vlad in the second game.
- Mangst: Max pretty much defines it.
- Match Cut: Utilized many times in the third game.
- Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: The ex-cop in the third game. It's debated whether he is a hallucination or unknown entity showing what Max's life would turn into if he didn't lose his family, or just a guy in the wrong place at the wrong time. Given that he disappears immediately if you turn to where he is hiding after having JUST talked to him (and Rockstar is known for their attention to detail), and his uncanny ability to always be near Max seem to point to the former.
- Meaningful Echo: In the beginning of the first game, immediately prior to going home and finding his wife and daughter dead, Max stubs out a cigarette in front of Alex and says "See? My last smoke. It's bad for the baby." Three years later, when B.B. is trying to persuade Max to abandon his Roaring Rampage of Revenge, he offers him a cigar, to which Max venomously retorts, "I don't smoke."
- Meaningful Name:
- Max Payne. One of the major components of the game is downing bottles of painkillers.
- John Mirra in Address Unknown, riffing on "Mirror."
- Alfred Woden, the one-eyed figure who knows everything going on in the first game. "Woden" is the Old English/Anglo-Saxon name for "Odin."
- The ill-fated Alex Balder is named after the Norse god Baldr, who is betrayed and killed at the beginning of Ragnarok.
- Don Punchinello is a reference to the Victorian-era puppet show character, signifying that the don is Nicole Horne's puppet.
- Horne's last name itself is a reference to her evil nature, given the traditional horned appearance of The Devil.
- Also, she's referred to as "the hag" repeatedly. In keeping with the Norse theme, that's N. Horne = Norn.
- Jack Lupino's name conveys his wolf-like tendencies. During his crazed tirade, he makes a reference to "the wolf" and howls. This might be considered another Norse reference as well, to Fenris.
- Rico Muerte's last name is Spanish for death.
- The Sax twins' names are Mona and Lisa.
- Ragna Rock is a reference to Ragnarok, the Norse apocaylpse.
- The Aesir Corporation is named after the Aesir, the chief pantheon of Norse gods.
- Max learns about Project Valhalla by accessing a computer network called Yggdrasil, the name of the giant tree from which Odin was hung, an ordeal which gave him secret knowledge.
- Valkyr drug makes user high with potential deadly results. Much like Valkyries, flying creatures who take the warriors to Valhalla. After they die, of course.
- Most of the names of the second game's levels. Though most of the allusion goes to the quotes present within the level, some are relevant to the general situation ("No 'Us' In This" is a level where you would expect to have Mona as a sidekick, but she runs off) or even gameplay features ("Dearest Of All My Friends" is exactly how much you have to protect Vinnie during the game's Escort Mission).
- Meet the New Boss: Supplementary materials for 3 state that the Cracha Preto liberate favelas from the Gang Bangers oppressing the people and then go right on oppressing.
- Mêlée à Trois: Happens twice in 3: First in chapter 3, where Max and Raul's meeting with the Comando Sombra is rudely interrupted by the Cracha Preto, and second in chapter 9 where the UFE stick their heads into the same.
- Mercy Kill: You have the option to give one to Becker in the third game, but he dies on his own if you refuse, which also nets you an achievement and unlocks his burnt, half-dead corpse as a playable character in multiplayer Deathmatch.
- Mighty Whitey: A Smug Snake military leader accuses Max of trying to be this in a confrontation towards the end of the third game. It rings pretty hollow considering that he and his men have been pretty much re-enacting the Holocaust with the city's poor and criminal element by kidnapping them and harvesting their organs.
- Interestingly, Payne agrees with him in a show of defiance, though as he's up-shit-creek and has a personal stake in things, he doesn't meet the spirit of the trope at all.
- It's also subverted by the fact Max is completely inept in certain areas and requires help from locals. And it's a local cop whom Max is working on behalf of.
- The Mob Boss Is Scarier: There's an amusing scene in Max Payne 3 when the hero, still clueless as to how law enforcement works down south, suggests they just arrest the corrupt politician dealing dope and selling organs. Gee, why didn't the DEA think of that?
- Mook Promotion: In the first game, Vinnie Gognitti is a ratty, low-level flunky who Max chases and torments for information, and is so pathetic Max figures he's not even worth killing. By the second game, Vinnie seems to be pretty much running the entire Mafia, due to Max having killed everybody else in the Family hierarchy during the course of the first game.
- Mooks but No Bosses: Invoked in all three games, which have Elite Mooks at several points and a "sequence" as opposed to a final boss:
- The first has Max shooting the last of Horne's mooks, before crushing her helicopter;
- The second has Max collapsing the structure Vlad is on, which then turns into an Elite Mook fight;
- Finally, the third has Max a shootout with Becker and his goons, before he chases and blows up Victor's jet in Da Silva's car.
- Becker likely counts as a Flunky Boss, due to very high health, superior weaponry, his engaging Max directly, and him posing likely the greatest challenge in skill and endurance for a single character in the game.
- Moral Dissonance: All the games have had a degree of this, with Max soliloquising on his murderous antics occasionally, but more often than not resolving with very few civilian casualties. 3 on the other hand has a massive death toll, civilian and hostile as a direct and indirect result of Max's actions and inactions, and yet he washes his hands of the whole thing unscathed.
- Motive Decay:
- The first game is an unusual example of the protagonist experiencing this. In Act 1 he's mainly interested in tracking down the supplier of Valkyr and finding out who murdered his partner, but his Cowboy Cop tendencies get noticeably further out of control as the game progresses... And then he does track down the supplier of Valkyr and learns several important facts about them (starting with the fact that they murdered his wife and baby daughter as part of a cover-up) and... Well, he's not really interested in collecting evidence anymore.
- Supplementary materials for the third game reveal that the Crachá Preto paramilitary Hired Guns started out as law enforcement types going Vigilante Man in order to eliminate the crooks that the law couldn't or wouldn't touch. Then they lost their way.
- Mugging the Monster: In 3, Max gets a gun waved in his face by the punk son of a mob boss, who gets killed shortly after. He later lets himself be robbed by a bunch of favela gangbangers to avoid the attention a gunfight might bring. When they cross paths some time later, he doesn't let them try a repeat performance.
- Multiple Endings: In Max Payne 2, Mona lives if you beat the game on the "Dead on Arrival" difficulty.
- Mr. Exposition: Da Silva in 3. He literally shows up every two hours of gameplay to explain the storyline and what to do next.
- Mythology Gag: Max Payne 2 has a bunch to the original, such as "Dick Justice", a blaxploitation retelling of the original game, the fact that Vlad's new restaurant used to be "Ragna Rock", a nightclub run by Jack Lupino, Captain Baseball Bat Boy, etc. Also, some one-off lines from the first game ("frigging zombie demons from outer space", "Noir York City", a thug naming his gun "Dick Justice") show up as story elements in the shows-within-a-show woven through the second game.
- A police sketch of Max in the third game looks like his facial model from the first game.
- Max Payne 1 and 3 ends with Max shooting down an airborne vehicle carrying the very rich and powerful villain after storming their headquarters... and that comes after escaping an exploding building that contained the secrets to the conspiracy.
- Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Nicole Horne, Jack Lupino, Rico Muerte, and Max Payne himself.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Max's alliance with Vladimir Lem in the first game sees him stealing a huge shipful of illegal contraband for the Russian mobster in return for his assistance in taking down the Punchinello crime family. Years later Vlad's private army of assassins are bringing New York to its knees and Max is being shot at with guns that may very well have come from that boat. Oh bugger.
- In the third game, Max's employer, Rodrigo is attacked in his work building. You spend the first half of the level trying to activate the building's security. However, once you do so, you find out that this was exactly what an assassin needs to slip in, kill Rodrigo and plant a bomb that kills almost everyone in the building.
- Nintendo Hard: In every game to date; there is no Regenerating Health, painkillers are quite scarce, the gunplay is very fast-paced, and Max is very much a Glass Cannon who can be taken out if he takes only a handful of unlucky hits. Even since the first game, a small bite in your luck can result in Max taking a large amount of damage that could become troublesome for you down the road, whether via wasted painkillers or otherwise. Also, in the first and third games a large portion of the enemies you face from the halfway point onwards are Elite Mooks who can survive more damage than you can. Through gratuitous usage of Quicksaves, however, one can essentially retry a specific gunfight as much as they want to get a theoretical perfect run.
- Naturally, the hardest difficulties put a limit on the amount of quicksaves per level you could do, to the point that if one doesn't ration them carefully, a single enemy getting a good shot in could send you pretty far back, if not to the beginning of the level entirely. Console gamers were stuck with checkpoints.
- Gets worse in 3; there are no quicksaves, console version or PC, and the checkpoints tend to be spread apart. A single death could send you a good distance back in later levels. One begins to feel glad when a cutscene occurs, as typically these are the checkpoints.
- Especially notable in 3, which has New York Minute Hardcore. Normal New York Minute rule (one minute time limit that's extendable with kills), but on the hardest difficulty and death sends you back to the Chapter 1 intro. It's not as tough as it sounds, but enemy memorization, bullet time abuse and spare painkillers are key to even contemplating winning.
- Noble Demon: Max considers Vlad to be one in the first game, calling him "one of those old time bad guys with honor and morals, which almost made him one of the good guys." He's wrong
- No Cutscene Inventory Inertia:Played straight in the first two games, where all of the cutscenes (with the exception of the opening cutscene in the first game, in which he's holding a sniper rifle) and comic-book sequences depict Max armed with his Beretta - even in sections of the game where the Beretta isn't in his inventory. Averted in the third game.
- No-Gear Level: The escape from the basement of Lupino's hotel in the first game, and the escape from the hospital in the second game.
- No Name Given: Max's baby daughter, Rose, went unnamed until the third game.
- No Range Like Point-Blank Range: Done after the end of a Pistol-Whipping combo in 3.
- Non-Action Big Bad: Victor Branco in 3. The one time he tries to pull a gun on Max, he gets disarmed quickly and only The Dragon saves him. The "boss fight" with him is just blowing out his private jet from under him.
- Noodle Incident: During 3, Passos and Max sometimes mention "Panama". Turns out it's a playable mission and part of the plot.
- They also mention working a wedding in Aruba.
- The Jersey levels count too, as they are mentioned in passing as having caused Max to move with Passos to the protection job, until it's visited later in the game.
- Nostalgia Level: The nightclub "Ragna Rock", which serves as the final level of the first chapter in the first game, and is revisited twice in the sequel in various stages of renovation.
- Hoboken in 3. A Max Payne game without a seemingly neverending supply of mobsters? Blasphemy.
- Used to the full extent in Old School mode of Max Payne 3, where it resembles the old gameplay style... slightly. In the sense that it removes last stands, but still retains a cover system.
- Not So Different: Pulled on Max by himself in usual Self Deprecatiing style in the third game, where he considers how the Cracha Preto are gunmen on a payroll and wonders if that's all he is.
- Not What It Looks Like: Vinnie's Captain Baseball-bat Boy collection.
"What? I'm a collector! There's nothin' nerdy about it, I'm a collector! Lots of tough guys are into this stuff! Frankie was into this stuff, he was a fuckin' tough guy! Just you wait till I sell my collection on eBay..."
- Numbered Sequels
- Obstructive Vigilantism: One of the graphic-novel cutscenes has Max contemplating this, but he ultimately decides to come clean. Sort of.
- An Offer You Can't Refuse: Vlad says this to Max when they meet the first time. Then he says that he always wanted to say that.
- Once Killed a Man with a Noodle Implement: Rico Muerte excitedly relates a story of two mobsters who were about to kill each other — then decided to settle their differences by playing Mortal Kombat or some such. The anticlimax so disappointed Rico that, in frustration, he strangled both of them with the controller wires.
- Once per Episode: Many events are repeated through all three games. Namely:
- A woman dies, which upsets Max note .
- Max's apartment/house is thrashed by the bad guys note .
- Max finds himself trapped in burning building and has to escape note .
- Late in each game Max is confronted by heavily armed spec-ops guys note .
- Obligatory sniper section.
- No Final Boss engages Max directly. note .
- An optional one: Max plays his theme on a piano.
- One-Man Army: Max Payne by the end of the first game. Mooks comment on it by the third.
- Max is definitely this throughout the games but it's used to the max (no pun intended) by the third, where Max kills over a thousand Mooks, destroys huge gang, and spends the conclusion tearing down an organ harvesting ring, an entire police station, several vehicles and an ENTIRE PLANE.
- Person of Mass Destruction: Given his role in the games, especially how he is essentially strategically deployed in the third game, makes him a sort of gritty realist Reconstruction.
- Only a Flesh Wound: The shot Max takes in the soccer stadium in 3. It goes through his shoulder and severely hampers him...at first. When Passos gives him some painkillers and patches him up, he shows no signs of incapacitation at all. However, what truly makes it this trope is he was shot with a anti-materiel round, meaning he survived (wholly intact and with full use of the injured part of his body) being shot by a weapon that would otherwise disable a vehicle.
- Only Known by Their Nickname: B.B. Lampshaded by Max:
Max Payne: Right, what's it stand for anyway? Backstabbing Bastard?
- Organ Theft: This turns out to be the man reason why Rodrigo, the UFE, and the Cracha Preto are working together - they kidnap, kill, or shoot up civilians and gangsters, take them to an abandoned hotel, and take their organs for sale on the black market - and these organs are worth quite a lot.
- Optional Stealth: 3's third chapter has several rooms where you can either directly engage the enemy, or wait in hiding until they leave.
- Outrun the Fireball: Once an Episode.
- Max's escape from Cold Steel facility in the first game.
- Max's escape from the collapsing construction site in the second.
- Max's escape from Rodrigo's office in the third.
- Past In The Rearview Mirror: From the second game:
Max Payne: With no way to deal with the past, I kept my eyes on the road, off the rear view mirror and the roadkill behind me. I chased lesser mysteries, other people's crimes.
- Perma Stubble: Averted in the third game. Max's facial hair grows as the (present-day) plot progresses. He starts off with some week-or-so-old scruff, progresses gradually to a Beard of Sorrow, and by the end of the game it's a Badass Beard.
- Plot-Powered Stamina: Taken to extremes in the third when a half burnt and injured Max kicks an entire commando team's ass, but to be fair, it's Max Payne. The pain pills probably help.
- Police Are Useless:
- In the second game, the Cleaners attack the hospital Max is interned in, even though it's swarming with police (including Lt Bravura personally) and security guards. The Cleaners still proceed to butcher them utterly, because the badly armed guards don't dare to shoot first.
- In the third level of Max Payne 3, major firefights break out between the Max-Passos duo and an outlawed paramilitary group at a major stadium, yet there's no sign of police response. Turns out there's a sinister reason for that.
- Police Brutality: Vinnie screams "Stop! Police brutality!" while Max tortures him, to which Max quips "Uh-huh. I rate pretty high on that." And then there're the UFE in the third, who essentially gun up an entire favela, innocents and all.
- Press X to Not Die: 3 has several instances. In one, Max must disarm and kill a machete-wielding Crachá Preto gangster. Failure to do will result in said machete to the neck, or a bullet to the stomach.
- Pretty in Mink: In a flashback in the third game, Max is in a bar late at night, and one of the few other patrons (until the Don's son and his pals show up) is a lady in a fur jacket.
- Pretty Little Headshots: Averted in the third game. Getting a headshot will typically result in grisly entry and exit wounds.
- Private Eye Monologue: How Max tells the story throughout the games. Coupled with Purple Prose that gives it its narmy goodness.
- YMMV but 3 gets rid of most of the Narm, with the story focused on relating drama and anger we all feel.
- Professional Killer: The bad guys that Max guns down, particularly the Trio from the first game, are hitmen. Mona, on the other hand, is an assassin. The second game almost universally has Cleaners - Mafia goons who hit a place and clean crime scenes up - as a ubiquitous enemy.
- Progressively Prettier: Max's face in the first game was modeled on one of the writers, Sam Lake, and ended up looking squinty-eyed and constipated. For the sequel, Timothy Gibbs was hired for the face model and (sadly) looked a lot less constipated.
- Lampshaded in the second game. One of Max's rambling doubles during a dream sequence says, "I didn't used to look like this!"
- Then in the third game, a news report clue shows an artist's rendering of Max, and it's the Sam Lake face in all its squinty, eyebrow-raising glory. Plus you can unlock the models of Max from the first two games, complete with the original having the same constipated grin - in creepy-looking HD!
- Psycho Serum: Valkyr; originally conceived as a Super Serum, the military abandoned it after the negative side effects (addiction, hallucinations, violent tendencies, declaring yourself to be the Fenris Wolf) became known. Nicole Horne, the project lead, decided to sell it as a street drug. In the process, she had Max's wife killed.
- Punch Clock Villain: One overheard conversation in the first game has a mook telling other that he isn't a cold-blooded killer, but a family man working 9 to 5.
- Put Their Heads Together: Max does this to two UFE officers in the third game.
- Puzzle Boss: Both games' final bosses stay well out of your line of fire, requiring you to find an indirect way to kill them. One boss in Max Payne 3 has to be coaxed out of cover by shooting the weak ceiling above him.
- Ragdoll Physics: Implied in the first game, but actually present in the second. The third game uses the Euphoria software that was present in Red Dead Redemption and Grand Theft Auto IV, allowing for more realistic bullet damage and physics. Even Max's shootdodging incorporates Euphoria, leading him to painfully slam into whatever objects the player nonchalantly flings him into or tipping him over onto his back or shoulders from his legs hitting a desk on the way over.
- Rare Guns: Less than twenty Pancor Jackhammers were ever produced. Funny how more than that can be found in New York City.
- Although they are all owned by members of Horne's special forces goons. It wouldn't be hard for a villain that powerful to have them made privately to kit out her hoodlums.
- Rasputinian Death: Even the weakest of goons in 3 can take massive amounts of punishment before dying, falling down multiple times before finally snuffing it. What's more, unlike Red Dead Redemption (The game this engine was cribbed from) they don't exhibit consistent injuries such as ruined arms or legs, and generally soldier on as if unharmed after two 9mm rounds to the knee caps.
- Real Is Brown: An aversion. The present-day missions in Max Payne 3 occur in lush São Paulo, while the flashbacks take place in icy New Jersey.
- Reality Ensues: Reality ensued all over poor Vinnie, a mob lieutenant with more enemies than friends and such an incurable fanboy for a cartoon Kid Hero that he'll cosplay without hesitation. Doing so straps him into explosives, and since that puts him in an Enemy Mine situation with Max, you figure The Hero should be able to save his life. And he did. Temporarily.
- In the third game, the favela Gang Bangers can threaten Max because of their numbers and Max's Cutscene Incompetence. They are still an untrained rabble, however, and are utterly dominated by trained, better-equipped paramilitaries or military police special forces.
- Reality Has No Subtitles: Max Payne 3 plays around with this. Max doesn't speak Portuguese, so for most of the game you have no idea what the people around you are saying. Occasionally though, he will catch a cognate, such as amadores (amateurs), and react to it.
- Averted in the final sequence in the stadium, where Alvaro Neves and Milo Rego (the Cracha Preto commanders) discuss why they don't need to shoot down Passos's helicopter. Max isn't even in hearing range so the subtitles are strictly for the audience's benefit.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Vlad gives one to Max near the end of second game.
- Red Herring: Max finds some tarot cards belonging to Lisa Sax at one point and presumes that the Tower refers to the Punchinello Manor, the Devil refers to Punchinello and Death refers to Max himself. In fact, the Tower is the Aesir Corporation building and the Devil is Nicole Horne.
- Also that isn't what those cards represent in the tarot. But then, Max probably would only know the stereotypical interpretations anyway, since the more accurate reading from them ends up coming true as well. The Tower is his past card and represents the death of his family, the Devil is his present and represents the antagonist of the game, and Death is his future which stands for how he changes to accepting what his life has become by the ending (before the second game at least).
- Revenge: Seems to be Max's only constant companion...
- Revision: In the first game, the Inner Circle is an Ancient Conspiracy, but in the second game, it's revealed to merely an image they cultivate, and they are just a very old and very influential crime organization that controls all organized crime in the New York area.
- Revolvers Are Just Better: The protagonist of Dick Justice carries a 44 Magnum revolver.
- The third game has revolvers in .38 Special and .357 Magnum varieties. Both pack a serious punch.
- Riding into the Sunset: 3 ends with this. Max Payne walks off into the sunset of a beach in Bahia, Brazil.
- Right for the Wrong Reasons: Somewhat deconstructed. Max shoots and mortally wounds Winterson to protect Mona. He later finds out that Winterson was in cahoots with Vlad and was never planning on arresting Mona but was going to kill both her and Max for being a threat to Vlad's plan. But this knowledge does nothing to comfort Max, and he goes on to consider this wilful slaying of a fellow officer to be one of his biggest mistakes.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Two full games worth (though in the second game, the "revenge" part doesn't really kick in till about two-thirds of the way through)!
- The third game starts out as an extended rescue mission, but pretty much turns into a rampage in the last third of the story.
- Rooftop Confrontation
- Rule of Symbolism: The first game has a lot of surprisingly accurate Norse symbolism, with character names and effects reflecting the narrative of Ragnarok, the end of the world. The second game, the symbolism is more diluted, but aims for a more traditional Christian theme, with Max and Mona as Adam and Eve, and clear analogs to a charming but manipulative and corrupting Devil rebelling against God and turning Adam and Eve against him.
- Sadly Mythtaken: A minor example, but several times during the comparisons to Ragnarok, comparisons are made to Fenris Wolf eating the sun. Actually, the wolves who pursue the sun and moon, and who will eat them during Ragnarok, are called Sköll and Hati, both separate from Fenris. Of course, it IS Jack Lupino saying this, the Valkyrie hopping lunatic who shot one of his own men because he wanted to see what his brains looked like splattered on the wall.
- Sarcasm Mode: Max loves this, along with Deadpan Snarker, and it pisses off a lot of his enemies.
Frankie: Nice to meet ya, I'm Frankie "The Bat" Niagara.
Max: Niagara, as in you cry a lot?
Inner Monologue: He had a bat and I was tied to a chair. Pissing him off was the smart thing to do.
: Dime? Angelo Punchinello here. Max
: (chuckles) Angie! Tell me, how much did Dime cost you? I'll bet it was more than his name
: Max Payne?! Max
: Right the first time. Punchinello
: You're dead, punk! Max
: Are you sure you're not talking about Boris here? But you are right, of course. Pretty soon we should get together and have a talk. Punchinello
: You sonuva-
- Save Scumming: Quicksaves makes the games much easier. They are limited on harder difficulties.
- Sawed-Off Shotgun: Played realistically. More on trope page.
- Say My Name: When Max thinks he has finally cornered Becker in the third game.
- Scenery Porn: Max Payne 3 takes this Up to Eleven; in order to give the player a chance to take in the game's beautiful environments without being riddled with bullets, the creators included the option of hiding the pause menu.
- The Schizophrenia Conspiracy: In Address Unknown. Justified, because he really is a paranoid schizophrenic.
- Schmuck Bait: While in the police station in the second game, you can come across a heater with a big sign on it saying, "DO NOT USE." Use it, and apparently the temperature in the station goes way up; not only do the two people nearby call Max out on it, but other people complain about the heat and think someone turned on the broken heater.
- Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: In 3 the paramilitary leader says that he knows a lot of powerful people. Max tells him that they won't be able to help him now.
- Sequel Reset: 3, which has Max up and leave North America due to the second game burning quite a lot of bridges; save for Max, only a handful of characters survived the second game,note hence the necessity for a full change in scenery.
- Shaped Like Itself: In 3, the Unidade de Forças Especiais are a special forces unit of military police. The name translates from Portuguese as "Special Forces Unit".
- Shoot Out the Lock: Even as early as in the tutorial level of the first game.
- Short-Range Shotgun: Averted and played straight at the same time. For you, especially at higher difficulties, shotguns have so much spread that they are almost useless against anything farther than five meters away. For the enemy, however, shotguns behave more realistically and can inflict heavy damage even at long range, making them the most dangerous gun for mooks to carry.
- Seems to be averted in the third game, as all but the sawn off shotgun can perform respectably at range. You still have to be close to get a One-Hit Kill bodyshot, but mid/long range headshots are quite easy.
- Shout-Out: In one level, Max bursts into an apparently empty apartment, where a machine pistol lies on the kitchen counter. A thug then casually walks out of the bathroom.
- The first game has a shout out to director John Woo in the form of a password, John Woo's Heroic Bloodshed films were a major influence on Max Payne. The game also has a shout to actor Chow Yun-fat who starred in many of Woo's films.
- In the first game, you can find a picture of a Dopefish.
- This exchange between two bums:
- A mobster can be found in the fourth level, killed with a wooden stake in a boarded up room. Near him are some letters in blood on the wall that spell "BUFF."
- Inthe Lords and Ladies show, the Evil Matriarch says to her son: "Ride like the wind, fight proud my son!"
- In the third game, Da Silva talks about Max, a drunk picked up in a bar "with A History of Violence".
- In the second game, a mobster sings the line, "for I'm a rain dog too" before stepping out into the rainy night.
- The Captain BaseballBat Boy comic strips from the first game are an obvious style homage to Charles Schultz's Peanuts, though the second game's adaptation of the comics into a TV show moves farther away from the source material.
- A news bulletin on a television set at Asgard Building in the first game reports that some people are worried about Aesir Corporation being a greater monopoly than Mi- ... CRR ... -soft was. This segment was, naturally, removed from the Xbox port of the game.
- Max describes Rico Muerte as "a regular Keyser Soze".
- The scene of Max tapping a water bottle onto the muzzle of his Taurus PT92 reeks of being an homage to Steven Seagal doing the same trick in On Deadly Ground.
- In the first, when taking the elevator in the laundromat, the player can look up and shoot the speaker playing Muzak, after which Max will say, "thank you." This was lifted straight from Blood 2: The Chosen.
- Jack Lupino's obsession with the occult and demons (along with being quite hard to kill), plus the nightmare sequences, seem to evoke a lot of elements from Acclaim's Shadow Man.
- In Max Payne 2, when Jim Bravura orders Max Payne to write a report on what happened on the upper east side, Max (in narration) feels that he is in a "cartoon moment when the gravity waits for the coyote to realize his mistake before the plunge."
- Shows Damage:
- Max's model changes notably in the second game, first after his hospital visit, and then after he is shot. One of the dream sequences has him facing the increasingly more damaged versions of himself.
- It is used more extensively in the third game, where Max often suffers damage as the level wears on, and used extremely on the last level and those proceeding it, as Max begins with a shirt and tie getup, and by the last few minutes, it turns into a half burned and injured Max with most of his shirt burnt and ripped.
- Show Within a Show: Televisions around the environment will give plot information or strangely mirror Max's current situation.
- Both games feature reports from the fictional NYCNN news channel commenting upon the in-game events.
- The first game features one episode each of Lords and Ladies, an over-the-top period soap opera, and Address Unknown, a Twin Peaks-esque psychological thriller. In 2, multiple episodes can be seen — Lords and Ladies focuses on a brother who is in love with a woman below his breeding and his brother and mother conspire to put an end to the affair, and in Address Unknown the full plot is revealed as a man hunting a serial killer who has framed him for the murders, only to find out it's his split personality.
- In Max Payne 2 there is Dick Justice (a blaxploitation parody of the first game), The Adventures of Captain BaseballBat Boy (based on the comic strip of the same name, which appeared in the first game), and Max Heat, a porno.
- Max Payne 3 features several television sets as per the rest of the series, with most of them in Portuguese save the news broadcasts.
- Shown Their Work: In 3, Max carries a G36 assault rifle variant by the carrying handle. Despite the name and appearance, that's not what that part of the gun is used for. It is, however, a common mistake made by people unfamiliar with such weapons, such as former New York cops with drinking problems.
- Also in 3, Max's iconic Beretta 92F pistols are replaced with the near-identical PT92, a Brazilian copy made by Taurus and used by the police and military, which one would be far more likely to find in São Paulo.
- Singing in the Shower: At one point in Max Payne 2, Max comes upon Mona singing "Late Goodbye" in the shower.
Mona Sax: I'll tell you one thing, Mona, you're no singer.
- Sliding Scale of Silliness Versus Seriousness: At least in its presentation, the series moved perpetually downwards with every sequel:
- In the first game, Max for instance faces off against gangsters clad in fedoras, suits and trenchcoats (silly gangster garb even for late '90s standards), some are even Dress-Coded for Your Convenience in fabulous purple like they're straight out of a Tim Burton Batman film, Aesir security guys are either dressed like Mr Smith's associates or like Imperial Starfleet officers. Even Max wears fancy 'street-wise' attire when he should be wearing three-layer winter clothing.
- The second game still indulges in fancy stereotypes, but from entirely contemporary and non-comical works (The Mafia is strutting around in tracksuits, legere jackets and blazers, The Mafiya in camo pants, sweaters and pelt coats, the cleaners in... well, cleaning overalls - and those adorable cleaning company caps) but everyone actually dresses like reasonable Turn of the Millennium New Yorkers.
- The third game comes as close to the serious (and nigh-unimpressive) end as the Max Payne formula allows it; the Favela thugs look like straight out of any Real Life favela, and the private contractors and police are closely modeled on actual organisations - there are no fancy exaggerations (apart from Bald!Max' (much-mocked) Hawaiian-Shirted Tourist get-up, and Hoboken's "spray-tan Guido douche" stereotype).
- Slipping a Mickey: Mona does this to Max in the first game, right after he says "As long as you don't try to slip me a mickey."
- Sniper Scope Sway: A pretty standard version. Hold your breath and all movement ceases. Move and the sway becomes much worse, crouch and it lessens. The sniper shot bullet cam can get pretty annoying.
- Snow Means Death: New York City is gripped by a historic blizzard in the first game. It's snowing in Jersey during Max's mob troubles in the third.
- Soap Within a Show: Lords and Ladies.
- Soft Glass: Max regularly dives through plate-glass windows and never suffers so much as a scratch.
- Played to a ridiculous extreme in 3, where if Max has shot a pane of glass in any spot, you'll be able to fling him through it with no problem whatsoever.
- Soft Water: In the third game, Max drops about thrice his height into a tiny patch of water that doesn't fully cover him even when lying horizontal. Partially subverted, as when he gets out, he's heavily injured and implied to have broken several bones, but partially played straight in that if he had actually fallen like that, he wouldn't even have been able to move.
- Solemn Ending Theme: Max Payne 2 has "Late Goodbye" by Poets of the Fall.
- Sophisticated as Hell: Max, who has a high vocabulary (as shown in his voiceovers) and enough metaphors to rival Shakespeare, is intelligent but more goal oriented and emotional (and sarcastic) in conversation rather than eloquent.
- Spanner in the Works:
- Max in the second game. He coincidently happens to be nearby the gun-smith just as the Cleaners make the hit against it and decides to investigate it, during which he, completely by chance, meets Mona, and he unknowingly gets caught up in Vlad's power-struggle, and he ends up bringing it down. It is quite clear that Vlad had planned to pin the gun-smith job on Vinnie, and had Max not been in the area, or merely arrived just a few minutes later he would have missed Vlad's goons and Mona and have been none the wiser and Vlad would have probably been able to pull off his scheme without any problems.
- Da Silva in 3.
- Spoiler: At one point in the first game, one thug is discussing the Twist Ending of The Usual Suspects with another thug, who it turns out hasn't seen it.
- In the second game, an amusement park funhouse level based on the show-within-a-show "Address Unknown" gives away the show's eventual The Killer In Me Twist Ending. Then when you return to the level later on (still well before the show "ends" in-game and Max has a chance to see it), it is lampshaded by one thug explaining the ending to another, and the other thug complaining of being spoiled.
- The How We Got Here starter for Max Payne 3 lets the observant know that U.F.E are in league with the bad guys.
- Sprint Meter: The third game adds the ability to sprint.
- Standard FPS Guns
- Stupid Surrender: Averted in the first game with a situation where even player control would not have helped, but played very straight in the third.
- Sudden Sequel Heel Syndrome: Vladimir Lem in Max Payne 2.
- Super Window Jump: Max performs it in all three games.
- Survivor Guilt: Max has a bad case of this; in the first game it's because of his family, in the second there's all that stuff he did in the first game on top of that. He keeps trying to rationalize it away, and fails miserably.
- Take Cover: Max Payne 3 introduces a cover system.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Nicole Horne and Victor Branco are surprisingly similar Big Bad 's. Both high ranking corporate big shots secretly behind the events of the events of their respective stories, employing a private army to do their dirty work under cover of legitimacy, and both embroiled in schemes that exploit the poor and desperate.
- Take That: At one point, a TV review about Aesir says that it "may become a bigger monopoly than *static* ever was". You can clearly hear "Microsoft" in there, though. Talk about biting the hand...
- In 3, Max comments on the tactics of the U.F.E by saying they "made the NYPD look like the Hare Krishnas".
- Take Your Time: 3 usually plays this straight, but in chapters 2 and 12, screwing around too long gets you game overs as the kidnappers get away and the block collapses under Max respectively.
- Terms of Endangerment: Vlad calls various characters "Dearest of all my friends." Invariably, he ends up betraying and/or killing everybody he addresses this way.
- Theme Naming: May be unintentional, but both known UFE leaders, Becker and Bachmeyer, have German-Brazilian names.
- There Is No Kill Like Overkill: 3 has Becker, who gets a grenade explosion to the torso, throwing him several feet, covering him in burns and ripping off his arm. There's also a slow-mo killcam when you kill the last enemy in an encounter, giving the option to riddle the body with bullets as it collapses.
- Think of the Children!: The police precinct in 2 features a civilian reporting on her husband, whom she's convinced is learning to kill from playing violent video games.
- This Is Reality: In a blatant comment on the first game's reveling in Film Noir and revenge tropes:
Max: There are only personal apocalypses. Nothing is a cliché when it's happening to you.
- Time Skip: The third game actually starts roughly nine years following 2, though Max aged surprisingly gracefully for all the crap he put into his body during the interval.
- Title Drop: All of the chapter titles are spoken during cutscenes, usually as part of Max's Internal Monologue.
- A strange, optional, wordless variant - one of the tracks is called "Die Slow" and is one of the more iconic songs of Max Payne 3. In the end, you're given the chance to allow Becker to die slow.
- Token Romance: An In-Universe example invoked by Max in 3 regarding Mona Sax. It appears he's gone on to dismiss his brief relationship with her as a misguided way to deal with his grief over his wife and daughters' deaths. See the Disposable Woman entry above.
- Tomato in the Mirror: The unnamed protagonist of Adress Unknown. He IS in fact the murderer John Mirror himself. He realizes this when hiding in a bathroom and looking himself in the mirror, finding John Mirror looking back at him.
- Tone Shift: 3 presented a different noir setting and dispensed with the graphic novel format, though the meat of the gameplay is unchanged. Fans complained in droves, so Rockstar added some flashback levels to pay homage to Max's origins.
- Took a Level in Badass: Against all common sense, a past-his-prime, out-of-shape Max Payne, caught flat-footed and so drunk off his ass that his vision is blurred, manages to be even more badass in the third game than before. Probably because he is that drunk.
- In the same game comes a subversion, when Max begins to turn his life around, quit the sauce, get a new haircut, and approach the world with a much more focused and goal oriented attitude. The level immediately after is a series of Epic Fails on his part. After that though, the new focus and stronger will pay off in droves.
- Took a Level in Dumbass: Possibly due to the aforementioned drinking, Max holds the Idiot Ball at least twice in the third game (see above). Max lampshades it at length near the end of the game, musing over his idiocy, but it's very hard to tell how he actually felt about it and why he acted in such a way even when he was somewhat aware of his boneheadedness.
- Train Escape: Done by Vinnie Gognitti in the first game.
- Max in the third at the end, though it is more of a train chase as he is trying to catch up to the Big Bad.
- Tranquil Fury: Max, usually. Particularly notable during the last chapter of the first game, which is Max making his final strike on Nicole Horne's building. Rather than play up-tempo action music, throughout the entire level the only music sounds like a heart beat and a church bell. It gives the level a very calm atmosphere. Also, in the cutscene preceding the level he says he drives around for a while first to let his rage build.
- Averted in the third game, where he becomes, for lack of a better word, "offended" enough to just not hold back. See Unstoppable Rage.
- Tropical Epilogue: 3 has one for Max himself as he kicks back in Bahia, looking on as the results of his handiwork are reported on the news. It's implied Da Silva played a hand in helping him escape punishment for shooting up half of Sao Paulo to bring Victor to justice.
- Trying to Catch Me Fighting Dirty: Trying to attack while near enough to an enemy in the third game will cause Max to use a nasty melee finisher, often involving Pistol-Whipping to the face, Use Your Head and/or Boom, Headshot.
- Troperiffic: Par for the course for a story attempting to inject a classic genre into a new medium.
- Two Shots from Behind the Bar: There is a shotgun tucked behind the (unmanned) reception desk in one of Vinnie's apartments, near the laundromat.
- A bartender in a strip bar in 3 whips out a sawn-off shotgun to shoot at Max and keeps a pair in a storeroom behind the bar.
- The bartender in the Hoboken levels surprisingly doesn't have one, but he has a few painkillers behind the counter instead.
- The Unfought: The third game has Serrano. You get close to him but never have a proper gunfight.
- Unorthodox Reload: In bullet-time in the second game, Max spins around when using his dual pistols.
- Unreliable Narrator: It is important to have in mind that the accounts of Max's Roaring Rampages Of Revenge is always told from his own point of view, and always after the fact. The developers has hinted that certain details, such as the absurd amounts of mooks he guns down throughout the games, might have been embellished through the lens of Max's guilt complexes and addictions.
- He gets really hard to read at the end of the third game due to a combination of mixed signals and an oddly surreal detachment from the action.
- Unstoppable Rage: The second to last level of Max Payne 3 finally flips Max's switch once he learns the Awful Truth. The final level has Max deciding to quit pussy-footing around and just assault a heavily fortified, special-ops infested airport.
- He then finally gets some much-needed catharsis by stomping on Branco's leg so hard that the bone sticks out.
- Vengeance Feels Empty: Present to an extent in the series. At the end of the first game, Max has completed his Roaring Rampage of Revenge, and even feels a moment of satisfaction in having destroyed Nicole Horne's drug empire. However, Max also realizes that having committed countless justified first-degree premeditated murders(Nicole Horne, a high-ranking government official turned multi-billionaire drug kingpin, murdered his family in cold blood precisely to conceal a series of capital crimes and would not only surely escape justice but go on to commit future crimes unless he, himself, hunted down and wiped out her entire organization), he will never be able to live a normal life in a society that permitted all that to happen.
Just when you thought you had reached the deepest depths of horror, it suddenly got worse. How to turn off that small voice inside your head that started to whisper that you should be glad; that now, if not before, your revenge was justifiable on any conceivable moral scale. That small voice proved, beyond any doubt, that I was damned.
- By the time of the second game, however, he's wracked with shame and Survivor Guilt, not only wishing he'd been punished for the events of the first game, but a pathetic shut-in unable to trust anyone or anything around him.
- Verbal Tic: Matriarch of York's "good, good" in Lords and Ladies.
- Video Games And Fate: The second game is entirely linear, with No Sidepaths, No Exploration, No Freedom (although there are two Multiple Endings depending on difficulty level). It also features numerous ruminations upon the nature of free will and destiny, with several of the characters debating whether they truly have agency of their own or if their actions are simply pre-determined.
- Video Game Cruelty Potential: The rag doll physics in general offer no shortage of opportunities to watch corpses act in amusing ways, such as in 2 when the player can blast a mook off of a cleaner's lift, through a few planks and several stories to his death. The games are usually good on making noncombatants run or hide, but quick and cruel trigger fingers can nail some civvies for Max's body count.
- Videogame Demake: An odd official example, Max Payne saw a release on the Game Boy Advance. The game was a 2D-based isometric view platformer with levels that were based on the levels of the original, albeit heavily simplified, and many levels were also removed entirely (including the opening level in Max's home and both Valkyr dream sequence stages). Even so, the game did retain bullet time and much of the plot as well as many intact cutscenes with full voice acting, as well as much of the blood and cursing from the original Max Payne.
- Vigilante Man: According to supplementary material for 3, the Cracha Preto were originally lawmen hunting down criminals the law couldn't or wouldn't touch. Originally.
- Villainous Breakdown: Both Horne and Vlad undergo these as Max closes in.
- Slightly subverted with Horne. She gets annoyed, but remains confident that Max will die. Her subordinates however, are much more terrified than she is. See Quotes.
- Violation of Common Sense: In the collapsing Branco HQ, Max eventually comes upon some windows to the outside on the second floor. Logic would dictate that shooting out the windows and dropping the 8-10 feet to the ground would be safer then scrabbling through a burning building, but this is Max Payne we're talking about.
- Vocal Evolution: Particularly in 3, James McCaffery's portrayal of Max becomes more dynamic and vivid (whereas earlier entries were paying tribute to classic noir-style storytelling, thus giving Max a deeper, more matter-of-fact voice) with frequent inflection and emotion. It is also likely to do with Max's worldview becoming considerably more tainted and jaded after 2 (Rockstar was playing with the idea of changing the actor to give Max an older and more world-weary tone).
- Vocal Dissonance: Max's voice really doesn't fit the facial expressions Sam Lake uses in the first game.
- Walk It Off: If Max or Mona are injured beyond a certain point, they walk with a limp and the amount of damage slowly decreases until it is at this threshold. The second game dispenses with the limping.
- In the third game, Max takes a .50 to the arm and is left stumbling and half-coherent from blood loss and shock, but is back to normal with painkillers and bandages. In the meanwhile, he really does essentially walk it off.
- Max is severely injured in an explosion in the third game, and is almost dead, barely being able to stand upright. One level and probably a few off-screen painkillers later, and he's fine.
- More to the definition of the trope, the third game features health regeneration in both modes. It is featured in single-player in a limited fashion (it kicks in, at least on hard and below, when more than 80% damage is taken, and regenerates only up to that point), while multiplayer has full health regeneration, with the speed of regeneration inversely proportional to the weight of your character's loadout.
- Wall of Weapons: There's a slight example in the third game. At one point in the 12th and 13th chapters, Max finds what he calls an arsenal, though unlike most examples there's only enough visible guns to equip a squad or two, and the ones you can actually use are far fewer.
- Wasn't That Fun?: Subverted in Max Payne 2. After getting rid of dozens of mobsters trying to kill Vinnie Gognitti and finally escaping, Vinnie comments "Well, that was fun - in a fuckin' terrible, sick, not-at-all-fun way".
- We Can Rule Together: B.B. offers this to Max in the first game. Max doesn't even flinch for a second in rejecting it.
B.B.: "You can't win this one, Max."
Max: "Maybe, but I can make damn sure none of you do either."
- We Gotta Stop Meeting Like This: Mona Sax says this to Max upon meeting by drawing guns on each other for the second time in the game. It's also the line spoken by Mona upon their first meeting in the second game.
- We Have Been Researching Phlebotinum For Years: Max Payne: "We were all involved in the early stages of the Project during the Gulf War..." This refers to Project Valhalla, the origin of the mysterious drug Valkyr that has caused Max so much trouble, to put it mildly.
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy: A voice mail in the final chapter of the game reveals that Vlad is this with Woden.
- What Measure Is a Mook?: Played with in the first game - Max himself does not even try to pretend his actions are morally justified, and at the beginning of the next game is wracked with guilt about all of the people he's killed. However, the news anchor Kyra Silver continually tries to paint him as some sort of heroic, crusading vigilante, much to his and Bravura's consternation.
- The third game averts it by virtue of having every enemy be a lethal and hostile aggressor, usually killed in self-defense while Max is being harried and threatened. Later on in the game, you learn that all the people you kill are very likely terrible, terrible people who will otherwise never be held accountable for their crimes. Yes, there are that many of them.
- With one other sort of aversion. During the mission "The Great American Savior of the Poor" Max uncovers an organ harvesting ring. A freshly harvested victim is one of the Commando Sombra Max had been fighting for most of the game. Fabianna's kidnaper and murderer, Serrano comes in shortly after Max. To say he is horrified is an understatement. Max even begins feeling slightly sorry for him. Even as rotten as these guys were, they did not deserve that.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Max does this to himself all the time.
- What the Hell, Player?: In 3, wait long enough, and Max will complain about standing around, or blatantly remind the player to go do the obvious to proceed.
- What Were You Thinking?: In 3, Max thinks about asking this of Giovanna and the now deceased Marcello, but stops and reminds himself that his long list of failures gives him no right to criticise.
- World of Pun: The achievements and trophies list in the third game, and the grinds. Here are a few examples, "Payne In The Ass", "Leg Payne"', and "Payne Bringer".
- World of Symbolism: All over the place.
- The original game is all an allegory for Ragnarok. The story is set during the worst blizzard in the history of New York, which parallels the Fimbulwinter that starts off Ragnarok. It begins with the murder of Alex Balder, who represents Baldr. Jack Lupino explicitly identifies himself as the Fenris Wolf at one point, and runs a club called Ragna Rock. Alfred Woden (Odin), a one-eyed and secretive man who apparently knows all the secrets in the world, dispatches the lone mortal hero against the forces of the duplicitous Nicole Horne, who has already ensured the deaths of everyone in Woden's circle except himself. The drug Valkyr is also a reference to Valkyries, who transport the dead to the afterlife.
- The second game includes a number of references to Paradise Lost and Genesis, with Vlad representing the serpent/Satan, Woden representing God and Max & Mona representing Adam & Eve. The final level includes wall art depicting the Garden of Eden.
- The third game, amusingly, is filled with symbolism of Max's drugged up state (appearing as video game "glitches", oddly placed stark lens flares, and television static). It's just not mythological in any way. There's also a lot of cultural symbolism, though that might be easier to pick up for someone familiar with the area.
- Wouldn't Hit a Girl: Played With. Max ends up killing a thug in 3 because he pistol-whips a woman that stands up to him, but Max goes as far as killing Valerie Winterson to defend Mona in 2.
- Why We Can't Have Nice Things: During the escort mission, if you shoot Vinnie's Captain Baseball-bat Boy collector's items, he will begin protesting your actions, claiming that they would have been worth a lot of money. Unfortunately, he wouldn't be caring for more than a few minutes....
- Why Won't You Die?: Vlad delivers one to Max in the second game.
Vlad: "What the fuck is wrong with you, Max, why don't you just die!!! You hate life, you're miserable all the time, afraid to enjoy yourself even a little. Face it, you might as well be dead already. Do yourself a favor, give up!"
- Wreaking Havok: Most obvious in one of the rooms in the backdrop of the funhouse, in which the player is given the opportunity to lob rubber balls at various props purely to show off the physics engine. The third game moves over to the Rage engine and comes with all the requisite next-gen physics upgrades, including a section where you can shoot the wheel block away from a truck and let it roll down a ramp to crush some bad guys loading it up.
- The jump physics in 3 are truly a sight to behold. Jump into anything you really shouldn't be diving into, and watch as Max's body realistically crumples under the strain at the appropriate angle. You will likely wince along with Max when you go for those back breaking twenty foot balcony dives.
- Wrong Genre Savvy: The Cleaners fall into this a few times, often getting action movie tropes completely wrong... and them completely dead.
Two mooks try to disarm a bomb
: Mook 1
: Red, blue or green? Mook 2
: In the movies, it's always red or blue. Mook 1
: So, green? Mook 2
: NO NOT THE GREEN BOOM!
- Wrongful Accusation Insurance: He got off whatever charges that could be laid against him from the first game, due in no small part to Alfred Woden. Lampshaded by Max Payne noting that he must have had to work big time to cover up him raiding a corporation.
- X Meets Y: Max Payne 1 & 2 is John Woo's Heroic Bloodshed genre meets Film Noir meets The Matrix.
- You Bastard: Max more or less is talking to the player at the start of Max Payne 3.
Max Payne: So I guess I'd become what they wanted me to be, a killer. Some rent-a-clown with a gun who puts holes in other bad guys. Well that's what they had paid for, so in the end that's what they got. Say what you want about American but we understand capitalism. You buy yourself a product and you get what you pay for, and these chumps had paid for some angry gringo without the sensibilities to know right from wrong. Here I was about to execute this poor bastard like some dime store angel of death and I realized they were correct, I wouldn't know right from wrong if one of the them was helping the poor and the other was banging my sister.
- Immediately after, you are given a choice that is a chance to express and/or solidify your own and Max's morality, so the speech is subverted into a challenge rather than a condemnation.
- Another amusing interpretation for the monologue is that it's from Dan Houser to his paymasters at 2K.
- You Don't Look Like You: Max's appearance changed drastically between each game, though the third game, at least, has an explanation for Max's new design - he's getting old and alcoholic.
- You Killed My Son: Anthony DeMarco family patriarch's reason for hating Max.
- You Watch Too Much X: When Woden introduces Max to The Inner Circle, he says that they have watched too much The X-Files.
There was something disturbingly familiar about the letter before me. The handwriting was all pretty curves.
"You're on a trope page, Max."
The blue bar crept up on me like an angry ghoul from some dark pit, grotesque claws of recognition dragging me to a sharp realization of fact. The intricate patterns that made up the cruel joke that is my life were laid out before me like some sort of metatextual shopping list, as if hundred upon hundred pairs of busy hands had made an attempt to dissect them into easily digestible bullet points. I was on a trope page. Funny as Hell, it was the most horrible thing I could think of.