Follow TV Tropes


Video Game / Max Payne
aka: Max Payne 3

Go To
"Everything ripped apart in a New York minute..."

"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

NYPD detective Max Payne's wife and baby daughter are killed in their home by junkies strung out on the designer drug Valkyr. Three years later, Max has transferred to the DEA and gone undercover with the Punchinello crime 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 and a shady corporation, killing everyone in his way as he gradually unearths the truth behind the creation of Valkyr and the death of his family.

This 2001 Third-Person Shooter from Remedy Entertainment was an attempt to break video games into 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 players to slow down key points of the game while letting them aim and react as usual. This gave Max an edge over the bad guys as well as looking darn cool, especially since the game was one of the first to use projectile modeling for each and every bullet rather than a hitscan technique. Slowing down time slowed down the bullets as well, letting you see every bullet you dodge. The game also impressed with its highly interactive environments, deep soundscape, and interesting aspects of gameplay such as playable dream sequences.

Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne came out in 2003, 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, all of which seemed to revolve around Max's life somehow.


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 in 2012. 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 Gangbangers 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. It was heavily inspired by Man on Fire.

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.

The large collection of folders looked ominous. I braced myself for the sheer deconstruction of the series.

    open/close all folders 

  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer: The first game has these. Max has to use one to escape from Angel Punchinello's restaurant as his Mooks burn it down.
  • Accidental Misnaming: In the Hoboken Blues comic, the bartender at Max's local dive bar mistakenly calls him Matt even when corrected.
  • 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.
  • 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 and everyone on both sides of the law coming for him. 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. These manifest as playable dream sequences, many of which play into Max's Survivor's Guilt.
  • 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 during a discussion about bad decisions and predestination.
  • 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.
  • A.K.A.-47: Zig-zagged depending on the game.
    • The first game goes for a few generic descriptors like the 9mm Pistol (Beretta 92), Pump-Action Shotgun (Winchester 1300) or Sniper Rifle (Steyr SSG 69), while a few others go for either correct names like the Desert Eagle and Jackhammer, or aliases like the Colt Model 733 going by "Colt Commando" (a catch-all term for M16-based carbines made before the M4) and the MAC-10 called the "Ingram" (the name of the MAC-10's designer).
    • The second and third avert this for the most part, going for real names as much as possible - even going so far as to swap out Max's previous trademark Beretta 92s for their local Brazilian counterpart, the PT92 - though they still go for a few generic names, like the second game's Pump-Action Shotgun (a Remington 870 this time) and Sniper Rifle (the SSG 69 again), or the third's Auto 9mm (a full-auto-converted Glock 17) and Micro 9mm (a Mini Uzi shrunk to the size of a Micro Uzi). The third game also leans more heavily into this trope for the weapons that don't get their real names, though several are contracted versions of their real names like the DE .50 (a Desert Eagle) or still related to the real weapon in some other way like the SAF .40 (a Taurus MT-40 named after the FAMAE SAF it was based on). Both also have one misidentified weapon each, 2's "MP5" actually being a chopped and converted HK94 and 3's Remington 870 named the "M500" as if it's a Mossberg.
  • 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.
  • 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: Part 1 of the first game is titled "The American Dream". Part 3 of the second is titled "Waking Up From the American Dream."
  • Amusement Park of Doom: Mona's hideout in the second game, a funhouse that's themed after Address Unknown, turns into this for the Cleaners she and Max ambush, then for herself when Vladimir detonates a bomb that sets the place on fire and she has to go inside to save Max.
  • 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 noticeably, every time you've killed an enemy, so you know to move onto the next target or cease firing.
    • One of the features advertised for the first game was the Rubber-Band A.I. where the game got gradually harder, but when you died, the next time you played through, the bad guys were a little less accurate each time.
  • 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.
  • Arrow Cam: Employed whenever Max or Mona use a sniper rifle. The third game includes slo-mo bullet hits for killing the last enemy in the 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."
  • 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.
  • Artificial Stupidity:
    • Cleaners in the second have a tendency to run after their own grenades. Halfway referenced by Max:
      Max: "Cleaners" was a misnomer. They were making a mess of it.
    • 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 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. Mona goes from being in only two scenes in the first game to being Promoted to Playable in the second.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: Bosses have a lot more health and much better aim than regular Mooks. Rico Muerte, your first really bullet-spongy opponent, can withstand a full 36 rounds from your dual Berettas before dropping (compared to 4-7 shots to kill basic Mooks), and later bosses (Jack Lupino, Frankie Niagara, Boris Dime, and B.B.) can take a good 64-70 9mm pistol rounds to kill (though you generally have better ordinance by the time you fight them). Even Candy Dawn and Vinnie Gognitti, who you wouldn't expect to have any sort of combat skills, are quite a bit tougher than regular mob Mooks.
  • 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.
  • Award-Bait Song: Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne has Poets of the Fall's "Late Goodbye" as the country-inspired Recurring Riff and Solemn Ending Theme, which netted a 2004 Game Audio Network Guild Award.
  • Awesome Mc Coolname: Max Payne. Several characters, including villains, lampshade this.
    Frankie: Max Payne. I envy your name.
  • Badass Boast: His narration in the final level in the second game gives us this:
    Max: I was compelled to give Vlad his gun back... one bullet at a time
  • Badass Bystander:
    • Candy Dawn, a random hooker who tries to kill you, inexplicably has perfect aim (compared to the Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy aim of most mob Mooks) and about 3 times as much health as regular Mooks.
    • 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.
  • Bad to the Last Drop: In the first game, Max drinks several cups of coffee "that tasted like engine oil" at an all-night diner.
  • 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: Every gun, except for the 9mm pistol, which sounds fairly like the real thing.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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:
    • Corrupt pharmaceutical pusher Nicole Horne is the overall villain in the first game.
    • Russian gangster Vladimir Lem goes from a bit part in the first game to the overall villain of the second.
    • Max Payne 3 has three potential conspirators, all siblings in the Branco dynasty. Victor is the corrupt brother: he harvests organs from peasants in the favellas, runs the corrupt special forces, and covertly assassinates the entire Branco clan in order to inherit their wealth. Like previous villains, he is pretty much evil incarnate, looting from everyone in sight despite being fabulously wealthy already.
  • Big Bad Friend: B.B. in the first game, Vlad in the second, and Victor in the third.
  • 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.
    Max: This was the rotten core of the Big Apple.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Well, it is Film Noir. To be specific:
    • In Max Payne 1: Max stops Horne, 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 (unless the player beats the game on the hardest difficulty setting, in which case she survives). 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. His death is officially ruled suicide, but it's heavily implied that he was killed in retribution for his crimes. Max has finally moved past his wife and daughter's deaths, gotten over his alcoholism, and can finally relax.
  • Bizarrchitecture: The Million Dollar Question in MP2 features a building of luxury apartments, yet also takes you through an apartment that has no windows whatsoever.
  • Black Comedy:
    • Max will often have a pithy one-liner in spite of all of the violence.
    • Passos also cracks jokes often during gunfights.
  • 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.
  • Blinded by Rage: Max plays this card against Punchinello to get him mad enough to make mistakes. He tries to kill Max by trapping him in a burning restaurant, but Max escapes and takes the battle to the manor itself.
    Max: Pissing Punchinello off was a dangerous game, but when people get mad, they make mistakes. I should know. That's where I wanted Punchinello — mad enough to trip over his own feet, preferably into a grave.
  • 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.
  • Bookends: In the second game. Less explicitly, "Dearest of all my friends."
  • Boring Yet Practical: The pump action shotgun can carry you through a large proportion of the first game, thanks to its plentiful ammo (especially in comparison to the Ingram, which burns through ammo pretty quickly to boot, especially when dual wielded), good stopping power, and (for the most part) relative close quarters combat for much of the game. In fact, it renders the Sawed-Off Shotgun totally redundant, since the pump action can be acquired first, a progression that's inverted for the sequel.
  • Boss Subtitles: Done for the introduction of every major character of the second game.
  • Brand X: Various "Kampela" products in the second game. The word is Finnish for a flounder fish, by the way. Weirdness.
  • 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 
    • The second act of 2 has Max sneaking into the Cleaners' hideout in a condemned building via the back of a van, with Mona following him but initially only about to communicate via radio. In Chapter 2, Max is sneaking around and warns Mona: "These guys are packing, close to overkill. Hardcore professionals."; Mona replies back "Doesn't seem that way from where I'm standing," leaving Max to wonder what she meant. We get the answer in Chapter 4, when control is switched to Mona: as she moves along she gets Max's "hardcore professionals" comment, which immediate precedes her opening a door to watching some cleaners standing around laughing as one of them is prancing around and strutting it like a runway model.
  • 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. The Max Payne franchise was the first to use Bullet Time as an actual play mechanic. 2 actually allows you to quickly reload in bullet-time, which has Max (or Mona) rapidly spin with the guns magically reloaded at the end, one of the game's many stylistic cues taken from the Heroic Bloodshed films John Woo is famouis for. In the first game, there's even a Lampshade Hanging done by two guards, who discuss this trope in movies. Interestingly, Max Payne 3 has a notice on the copyright screen that "Bullet Time" is a trademark of Warner Bros., indicating that The Matrix is the actual Trope Namer- however, Max Payne was definitely the work that brought the term into public consciousness.
  • 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 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.
  • Callousness Towards Emergency: Justified in the first game, since the lady at the other end is the Big Bad.
  • Catchphrase:
    • Vlad calls almost everyone "dearest of all my friends".
    • Lord Jack's "Yes, Mama!" and Matriarch of York's "Good! Good!" in the Lords and Ladies TV show in 2.
  • Catapult Nightmare: The narrator of Address 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.
  • Character Title: Although it makes a pretty effective pun as well (since that's exactly what happens to Max's foes).
  • 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. 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. Max lampshades this in his narrative monologue:
    Max: ...who was I to talk, a brooding underdog avenger alone against an empire of evil, out to right a grave injustice? Everything was subjective. There were only personal apocalypses. Nothing is a cliché when it's happening to you.
  • Climbing Climax: End of the first game, where Max ascends to the roof of a skyscraper, only for the Big Bad to board an Armed helicoper.
  • Cluster F-Bomb:
  • 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 game.note 
  • Coolest Club Ever: Ragna Rock an obvious nod to the now closed Goth and Club Kid club venue Limelight. The real club didn't have pentagrams on the floor, but it did have an H. R. Giger room with paintings of his and statues related to the Alien film franchise he did artwork for.
  • 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.
  • Convection Schmonvection/Hollywood Fire: In 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.
  • 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.
  • Corporate Conspiracy: Nicole Horne was already part of the Government Conspiracy Project Valhalla, and when that was discontinued she took the Super Serum they were working on and sold it on the streets as a Fantastic Drug through her company Aesir Pharmaceuticals. Max notes that her computer probably has information on other conspiracies, but isn't interested in investigating further.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Nicole Horne. She has Max's wife killed because she found some incriminating evidence and is making money off a rejected Super Soldier serum by selling it on the streets as a designer drug.
  • Couldn't Find a Pen: A hidden room in the first game reveals a staked mook trying to spell out BUFF-
  • 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."
  • Creepy Monotone: Max himself, especially in 3 when you see him with the Thousand-Yard Stare he exhibits at times while doing this.
  • 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.
  • Crusading Widower: Max spends the first game on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge against the big conspiracy that killed his wife and newborn girl.
  • 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 Incompetence: In Punchinello Manor after Max kills a few of Nichole Horne's goons, the player opens a door and a cutscene starts where Max just gives up as more goons hold him up and their boss injects him with Valkyr. Had the player been in control killing those goons and their boss would have been almost trivial, having done so to more than that number of Mafia goons before that point. The player even goes on to kill more than that number of the same sort of goons afterward.

  • Da Chief: Bravura, in the sequel. He chews Max out for working with Mona and even has him turn in his guns and put him behind a desk. He also tries to get Max to get his life back together, mistaking his PTSD for alcoholism.
  • Dark Action Girl: Mona Sax is a badass assassin who dresses in black, and racks up a body count to rival Max's.
  • 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.
      Max: He had a baseball bat, and I was tied to a chair. Pissing him off was the smart thing to do.
    • 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.
    • Also, Passos in 3:
      Max: Time to see what's waiting for us outside.
      Passos: Well, it ain't gonna be a warm cup of milk and a blowjob.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Déjà Vu: Max experiences this in the original game—while having a bad Valkyr trip. In his hallucinations, he enters a room with a ringing telephone. When he picks up, he hears only gibberish and puts it down. However, the next room he enters looks exactly the same, and the voice on the phone tries to tell him he has been drugged—to which he declares that he only hears gibberish and puts the phone down.
  • 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 a massive guilt complex for getting away with it all.
  • 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.
  • Developers' Foresight: In the second game, if the player kills the very first cleaner before he turns hostile, Max will note that he saw through the cleaner's disguise.
  • Dirty Cop: Across all three games there's someone wearing the badge that isn't on the up and up.
    • In 1, it's Max's lone DEA contact B.B. after Balder is killed and Max is framed for it - the implication is heavy that it was B.B. himself who shot Balder in front of Max. Max gets the hint when he meets B.B. in the third act - no way a guy on a normal police salary can afford a suit and watch that nice.
    • In 2, it's Detective Winterson, who's in bed with the Big Bad Vladimir Lem in a somewhat more literal manner than usual for the term. Winterson uses her position to cover Vlad's activities and later tries to get rid of Max and Mona with lead.
    • In 3, it's the entire UFE force, 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 Sex Worker: Referenced in a flashback in the Max Payne 3 prequel comic, where Max is sent to catch the Serial Killer known as "The Silent Hunter", who kills newlyweds.
    Bravura: If there's one thing people can't stand, it's young lovers getting their hands chopped off by a psychopath.
    Max: I think I'd care just as much if it was hookers and their clients. People are people.
    Bravura: To you and me, yes, but to the morons in the press, let's just say some people are more equal than others.
  • 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...
  • Donut Mess with a Cop:
    • In the first game, Max remarks in his narration that he's been living on "an endless supply of week-old doughnuts."
    • In the third game, several plates with coxinhas (Brazilian chicken crockets), which are often considered "cop treat", can be seen around the UFE headquarters.
  • Driving Song: "Late Goodbye," the Theme Song of Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne, is a melancholy country tune implying a never-ending Stern Chase.
    Lonely street signs, power lines, they keep on flashing, flashing by
    And we keep driving into the night
  • 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.
  • Dynamic Difficulty: Depending on how well the player is doing, the game would adjust the level of aim assist and enemy health, adding more a challenge if you were doing well and giving you a bit of a break if doing badly. This is disabled on Hard Boiled and Dead On Arrival difficulties, which permalocked them to the hardest levels.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: The first game, beyond the tonal differences noted elsewhere on this page, has a few gameplay wrinkles that were ditched in the later games. Notably, if Max was heavily wounded, he would visibly limp until he recovered enough of his health back. Max would also automatically get up after landing from a Shootdodge, having no option to remain on the ground to fire at enemies.
  • Easter Egg: There is an apartment in the final level of 2 that contains a memorial to one of the developer's friends. The room contains little else.
  • 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 the Commandoes and Killer Suits, who have better aim and about twice as much health as regular Mooks, with the Killer Suits being slightly tougher than the Commandoes. The Commandoes frequently throw grenades and carry hard-hitting Colt Commando assault rifles and Desert Eagles, while the Killer Suits are often equipped with the best weaponry in the game and have a much higher rate of fire and accuracy even when they're just carrying regular 9mm pistols.
    • The second game has Vlad's Cleaners when they're equipped with full Commando gear, suggesting they're what's left of the Commandoes from the first game, now working for Vlad. Like in the first game, they've got twice the health of regular Mooks, and are usually equipped with M4 assault rifles and grenades.
    • The third game has UFE soldiers equipped with body armor and wielding military-grade weaponry. Unlike gangbangers, they can also throw grenades to flush you out of cover. Crachá Preto paramilitaries also wear ballistic vests and throw grenades, though they're not quite as well-equipped as the UFE, having slightly less advanced weaponry and lacking ballistic helmets.
  • 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.
  • Embarrassing Hobby: Mobster Vinnie Gognitti collects action figures, as Max finds out in the second game. This is especially embarrassing to Vinnie, as he strives to project a tough-guy image despite not actually being one.
  • 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.
    • In a sniper support variation, Max himself is the escortee while Mona, under the control of the player, clears the path for him. He's not totally helpless, as once he gets free of the collapsed scaffolding, he fights back with an M4.
  • 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 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 Power Vacuum: Vinnie Gognitti takes over the Punchinello family operations by virtue of Max effectively wiping them out in the first game. Vlad takes over Jack Lupino's business interests, including his nightclub.
  • 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...).
  • 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.
  • Expositing the Masquerade: From the first game: "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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 555: You can find posters that say 555-PSSY in the game.
  • 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.
  • Foreign Cuss Word: In 3, you can expect to hear "Filho da Puta!"-Portuguese for "Son of a Bitch!" quite a lot.
  • Foreshadowing: In 2, Max starts feeling contempt for Vlad even before he stabs him in the back.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Initially an undercover cop, Max Payne quickly becomes a one-man-army that everybody afraid of.
    • Angelo Punchinello: He's coming for me! You've gotta hurry... Please...
    • Thug: He's comin'! I-I can hear him! Okay, this is it. Any moment now, Payne's gonna bust through that door with murder in his eyes.

  • Gameplay and Story Integration:
    • Ever so rarely one can hear the Bullet Time sound effects in cutscenes when Max actually has a shootout in the story. Most memorably when he and Vinnie get each other at gunpoint in the first game, where Max dodges a shot in the middle of a panel fade-in and hits Vinnie non-fatally in return.
    • A minor example occurs when Mona bursts into the flames that have engulfed the theme park to rescue Max. She fires off two rounds from her Desert Eagle to knock down a barrier in her way before diving through the gap. When the player is given control, her gun has eight rounds in the magazine instead of a full load of ten.
  • Game-Breaking Bug: The French version of the first game sold with Steam is infamous because it always crashes 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.
  • 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.
  • Give My Regards in the Next World: The boss fight agains Boris Dime in the first game starts with a cutscene in a Dutch Angle where he approaches the player and says "Tell the devil that Dime sent you".
  • Golden Ending: In the second game, if you complete the game on the hardest setting, Mona survives. Until the release of Max Payne 3 and its story, it also doubled as an example of Earn Your Happy Ending.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: In 3, when Serrano kills :Dr. Fischer, the camera cuts away just before he plunges the scalpel into the doctor.
  • Gorn:
    • 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 use 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: The original game covers the aftermath of Project Valhalla, a US government-sponsored drug research that was Tested on Humans during the Gulf War. There is also the Inner Circle, a group of filthily rich old men who more or less control the US government (and are hinted to have been behind the Kennedy assassination).
  • 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.
  • Guilt-Based Gaming: All three games (the PC versions) have a special screen that asks if you're sure you want to quit to desktop. If you decide to quit, it's becuase Max is either too scared, tired, or guilt-ridden to go on.
  • Gun Porn: The guns in the first two game have detailed animations for their time, with weapons visibly cycling new rounds and magazines being visibly removed from guns during reloads. They also averted Everything Fades, with bullet holes, spent brass, and empty magazines persisting in the level. 3 takes this further with details like triggers, hammers, and barrels moving and tilting, magazines actually having visible bullets if they are half-empty, and in Bullet Time you can hear a gun's inner mechanics working as it fires.
  • 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.
  • Hard Boiled Detective: The narrative of all three games is based around Max being this.
  • He Knows Too Much: The reason Michelle was marked for death in the first game.
  • Heroic Bloodshed: The tone and styling of the first two games are notably informed by this genre almost as much as Film Noir. By the third game however, there's little trace of this beyond Max's gunfighting antics.
  • 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 partnernote  but it's unlikely he'd be forgiven for the body count he left behind.
  • Hide Your Children: Averted as after the Junkies kill Max's wife and daughter you can see her body in the crib.
  • Hired Guns: The cleaners in the second game. A whole army of them.
  • Hitscan: One of the first games to make a big deal of averting this; all of the weapons fired modeled projectiles, the bullet-time mechanic was created largely so you could see this more clearly. Played with in 3 - Bullets are hitscan in real-time, but are modeled projectiles in bullet-time.
  • 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.
  • 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. The Beretta Model 12 submachine gun has also had its stock and foregrip removed to allow it to be fit in Max's shoulder holsters (although both it and the Sawed-Off Shotgun still look ridiculous when they're stowed there). There's an element of Gameplay and Story Segregation in play in the early games, however, as several frames in the graphic novels in the first game depicts Max carrying a duffel bag full of weapons.
  • 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 
  • 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: Basic mob Mooks have really atrocious aim, even if you're not dodging around using bullet time. 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.
  • 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).
  • Indecisive Medium: The comic book cutscenes.
  • The Insomniac: Max Payne. Doesn't help his apathetic mood and depression.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Intimate Telecommunications: A sad example combined with Platonic Prostitution in the second game. Max has taken to calling a phone sex hotline just for someone to talk to.
  • Ironic Nursery Tune: heard in Max's first nightmare along with his dead baby's cryings.
  • I Shall Taunt You: Max in the first game rubs it in Puchinello's face after he captures the arms shipment from Boris Dime at Vlad's request, trying to get him to not think clearly.
    Max: [narrating] Pissing Punchinello off was a dangerous game. But when people get mad, they make mistakes. I should know. That's where I wanted Punchinello, mad enough to trip over his own feet, preferably into a grave.
  • Is This Thing Still On?: As he makes his way up to her office in the first game, Nicole Horne accidentally turns on the PA system she'd previously used to taunt Max, letting him hear her confusion over how her entire highly-trained and well-equipped security team can be unable to stop one man.
  • 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.
    Horne: 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.
  • Karmic Death: Nicole Horne gets killed when her chopper is crushed by a tower (courtesy of Max) just when she was about to escape.
  • 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, Kyra Silver, 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 confirmed dead. By the end of the third game, it gets a little bit better, with Passos, Giovanna, her unborn baby and Da Silva surviving.
  • Kinda Busy Here: Max in the second game's mission where both him and Mona storm the Mook's hideout.
  • Lady Not-Appearing-in-This-Game: 3 has a number of important female characters, none of whom bear a resemblance to the lady on the cover.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Leap and Fire: The "Shootdodge" mechanic. Interestingly, other enemies in the first two games also did this in a few sequences. In the third game's story, only Max ever does this.

  • 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 (Rico Muerte, the first really bullet-spongy opponent you face, can soak a full 36 rounds from your dual Berettas before dropping, and some later bosses like Jack Lupino are even tougher). 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.
    • BB in the first game is the closest thing the entire series has to a Damage-Sponge Boss. Just one direct him from a grenade launcher or a bullet to the head from a sniper rifle is not enough to take him down.
  • The Mafia: Most of Max's villains. The Punchinellos have seen better days: It's implied that Angelo'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.
  • Mangst: Max deals with the death of his wife and child by shooting up entire armies of mobsters and thinking in metaphors.
  • 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.
    • Nicole Horne's is called "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 apocalypse.
    • 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).
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Multiple Endings: In Max Payne 2, Mona lives if you beat the game on the "Dead on Arrival" difficulty.
  • Murder Simulator: The second game has a woman filing a police report about her boyfriend and how she destroyed her own TV because he gamed too much. She goes on to state that she's worried that the controller even resembles a gun to her. The cop taking the statement tells the woman that, unless someone was hurt, no crime was committed, then goes on to snark about it.
  • Mythology Gag: The second game makes several to the first:
    • "Dick Justice" is a blaxploitation retelling of the original game.
    • Vlad's new restaurant used to be "Ragna Rock", a nightclub run by Jack Lupino in the fist gane
    • Captain Baseball Bat Boy affects the plot of the second game after getting referenced a few times in the first game.
    • 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.
  • Motion Comic: The first two games are notable the use of motion comics to know the story instead of cinematic cutscenes, all with the Point of View of Max himself.
  • 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.
  • 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. The hardest difficulties have anti-Save Scumming features. The third game has no quicksaves, and the checkpoints tend to be spread apart. The third game also has 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 contemplate 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 the cutscenes and comic-book sequences almost always depict Max armed with his Beretta - even in sections of the game where the Beretta isn't in his inventory. There is an exception in the second game where Max shoots at Vlad with an MP5 in the game engine cutscene that leads into the final battle. This is actually a clue how to defeat Vlad. 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.
  • 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 What It Looks Like: Vinnie's Captain Baseball-bat Boy collection.
    Vinnie: 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: The games simply go from the original to 2 with a subtitle and then 3.
  • 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 .
    • Max discovers an elaborate conspiracy perpetrated by a higher power note .
    • Max getting framed for a crime he didn't commit and trying to prove his innocence.
    • 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 Known by Their Nickname: B.B. Lampshaded by Max:
    Max: Right, what's it stand for anyway? Backstabbing Bastard?
  • 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: 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.
  • Pistol-Whipping: The second game added this as a quick melee attack without needing to switch weapons. The third game also has plenty of this in Max's execution animations.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Pop-Star Composer: Max Payne 2's Recurring Riff and Solemn Ending Theme, "Late Goodbye" was the first release of Alternative Rock band Poets of the Fall, which suddenly became the Breakaway Pop Hit that properly launched their careers in their native Finland, and began their sideline of composing for videogame soundtracks.
  • Private Eye Monologue: How Max tells the story throughout the games. Coupled with Purple Prose that gives it its narmy goodness.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Recurring Riff: Poets of the Fall's "Late Goodbye," the Theme Song of Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne, is a melancholic country-inspired tune hummed, sung and played on piano by multiple characters in-game before appearing in full as its Solemn Ending Theme. Max even owns the album.
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • 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 willful 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: The climax where Max confronts the mastermind of his family's murder occurs on a hele-pad on top of the Aesir Pharmaceuticals high-rise building.
  • Rule of Scary: In the second game, there's no logical reason why an abandoned funhouse should still have electricity running throughout the entire building to power the attractions - but the funhouse would have been a lot less spooky and memorable if the attractions weren't active.
  • 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.
    • Also:
      Punchinello: Dime? Angelo Punchinello here.
      Max: [chuckles] Angie! Tell me, how much did Dime cost you? I'll bet it was more than his name.
      Punchinello: 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[Max hangs up]
  • Sarcastic Title: The second game has a chapter near the end titled "Dearest of All My Friends." In it, Max has to protect his long-time enemy Vinnie Gognitti against their common foe Vladimir Lem's men, despite the fact that Max and Vinnie still hate each other. The title is dropped at the end by Vlad who proceeds to try to kill his former ally Max.
  • Save Scumming: Quicksaves makes the games much easier. They are limited on harder difficulties.
  • Sawed-Off Shotgun: Played realistically. More on trope page. Oddly enough, in the first game it's acquired after the pump action shotgun, making it redundant the moment Max acquires it. The second game remedies this by making it the first weapon (after the Beretta, of course) that can be aquired by killing an enemy.
  • 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.
  • Serial Escalation:
    • In the first game, Max starts the first night fighting street criminals with basic handguns, and the most powerful weapons he uses are shotguns and hand grenades. On the second night, he fights mobsters, and upgrades to Uzis and sniper rifles. On the third, he's fighting black ops commandos, and finds assault rifles and grenade launchers.
    • The third game is a roller-coaster. Starting out fighting Gangbangers, paramilitaries are introduced in the third level, but several subsequent levels go back to the gangsters. The gangsters eventually get wiped out by military police special forces, who become the final enemy type after the paramilitaries are later also killed off.
  • 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 since enemies will die if so much as one pellet hits them in the head.
  • 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.
    • Among other John Woo nods, the medium difficulty setting in the first two games is named Hard Boiled.
    • The spinning Bullet Time reloads Max does in the second game are probably in reference to similar moves done in the finale of The Replacement Killers
    • In the first game, you can find a picture of a Dopefish.
    • This exchange between two bums:
      Bum 1: It's never been this cold! Never-ever! It's like the sky's falling!
      Bum 2: Yes, sir! It's like The End of the World as We Know It!
      Bum 1: And I don't feel fine. I don't feel anything!
    • 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."
    • In the Lords and Ladies show, the Evil Matriarch says to her son: "Ride like the wind, fight proud my son!"
    • When Max assaults the Ragna Rock nightclub, he passes through a room full of occult books. One isn't surprised to see pop-cultural books like Necronomicon, Paradise Lost and Malleus Maleficarum, but De Umbrarum Regni Novem Portis is a fun oddity.
    • In the third game, Da Silva talks about Max, a drunk picked up in a bar "with A History of Violence".
    • The third game's usage of Interface Screw, on-screen subtitles that emphasize certain words, as well as much of the cinematography and stylistic flourishes, are taken right out of Man on Fire.
    • 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 taping 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."
  • Shower of Awkward: When Max finally finds Mona in her secret hideout, she is taking a shower (The player doesn't see more than a Toplessness from the Back shot). She is rather calm about being interrupted, and just casually asks him to pass her a Modesty Towel, before strutting to her room to get dressed. To his credit, Max is obviously awkward does a good job ignoring her being a tease.
    Mona: Now that you are here, you can watch my back while I get dressed.
  • 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. The game also shows bullets holes on Max's person as well as on the mooks' bodies when he shoots them.
  • 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.
  • Singing in the Shower: At one point in Max Payne 2, Max comes upon Mona singing "Late Goodbye" in the shower.
    Mona: I'll tell you one thing, Mona, you're no singer.
  • Sliding Scale of Silliness vs. 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 Tim Burton's Batman films, Aesir security looks like Imperial Starfleet officers and the "killer suits" are dressed like Agent Smith. 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.
  • Sniping Mission: When Max is trapped under some collapsed scaffolding, the player must control Mona and give him sniper support. This involves multiple sniping points to take out enemies attempting to gun down Max from various angles he can't reach himself.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Stern Chase: Max Payne 2's Theme Song "Late Goodbye" has a couple chased endlessly by "the Devil" though its unclear whether its literal or metaphorical.
    The devil grins from ear to ear when he sees the hand he's dealt us
    Points at your flamin' hair, and then we're playin' hide and seek
    I can't breathe easy here, 'less our trail's gone cold behind us
    'Til in the john mirror you stare at yourself grown old and weak
  • 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.
  • Stop, or I Will Shoot!: Max's entire career and primary method of dealing justice. Deconstructed in the third one, as a newspaper article in Brewer's apartment (chapter 4) refers to psycho detective Max Payne getting the boot from the NYPD.
  • Stylistic Suck: While Max Payne 2 was a Darker and Edgier sequel with a more serious and less campy story with a higher budget, Remedy deliberately decided to still keep the Shows Within a Show low budget cheesefests and Sam Lake cast almost all of the characters in them from the protagonist of Adress Unknown to the Evil Matriarch in Lords and Ladies.
  • Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: Detective Bravura was a Hero Antagonist in the first game, and Da Chief in the second. He shows up early in the game during a firefight in which Max is ambushed, outnumbered and unarmed, appearing just long enough to shout a warning before he's gunned down. It's only technically a subversion that he lived (probably helped that he was shot in a hospital,) since for the rest of the game he's in critical condition, assumed dead any second, and has no further bearing on the plot. A flashback scene in the third game indicates he died of a heart attack between games, leaving Max with no influential allies left to get him out of the trouble he's always getting in. The second game also kills off Vinnie Gognitti, Alfred Woden, Mona Sax and Vladimir Lem.
  • Sudden Sequel Heel Syndrome: Vladimir Lem in the second game. It wasn't that he was a particularly nice guy to begin with, being a high-ranking member of the local Russian mob as well as more fond of explosives than is strictly healthy, but he was a Worthy Opponent in an Enemy Mine situation. As Max himself puts it:
    Vladimir was one of those old-time bad guys with honor and morals, which made him almost one of the good guys. None of us was a saint.
  • Super Window Jump: Max performs it in all three games.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
    • At the end of the first game, Max avenged his family's murder and took down an evil drug-dealing empire, but he's still miserable because his wife and daughter are still dead, and so are his best friend and Mona Sax. And the only reason he gets away from all the crimes and wantom murder he committed is having a friend in high places, something that Max ends up resenting very quickly.
    • Plus, the second game has him suffering from survivor's guilt from the events before and being a cop, he feels like a monster for killing all those mooks in the first game, even if they deserved it; it gets worse with the crap piled on in this entry, such as: Max killing his partner because she was about to shoot Mona (she was revealed to have been working for Vlad and intended to murder him and Mona, but Max shot her before this revelation and because of that, and the fact she has a blind son to take care of, he feels awful) and Mona Sax's real death.
    • The third game has Max's depression Up to Eleven, since now he's a depressed, painkiller and alcohol addicted wreck who gets exiled from Hoboken, failed to rescue the passengers on a yacht from getting slaughtered, then all of his employers got murdered, plus, he's still suffering from everything else that had happened to him
      • The comics made to tie into this game reveals that he had a really bad childhood as well. With all of these horrible events happening to him and Max refusing to get any help aside from becoming a barely-functioning drug addict and alcoholic, who shuts everyone out of his life and dives deeply into work, whether or not he was stable enough to be working in the first place, he becomes a reminder that depression does not go away without a fight, drugs and self-pity do not replace professional therapy, and that being Max Payne would suck so much; it is a miracle he hasn't contemplated suicide at all during all this.
    • In the second game, 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.
  • 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.
  • Suspicious Video-Game Generosity: Just before Max faces Jack Lupino, there are several shotguns and Ingrams as well as painkiller bottles just lying around. You will need them.
  • 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...
  • Talks Like a Simile: A defining feature of the games.
  • Tarot Troubles: In the first game Max comes across three tarot cards laid out in the Punchinello mansion, apparently by Lisa: The Tower, The Devil, and Death. Max proceeds to make a (amateurish) reading of it, with Tower referring to the mansion, Devil being Don Punchinello and Death as Max, coming for the Don. More accurately, this works as a simple reading of Max's life in past-present-future configuration: The Tower signifies disaster and being brought low (death of Max's family and his life collapsing after that), The Devil is addiction (Max stuck in the shadow of his personal tragedy) and Death is change (Max moving forward from the death of his family).
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Title Drop: All of the chapter titles are spoken during cutscenes, usually as part of Max's Internal Monologue.
  • Tomato in the Mirror: The unnamed protagonist of Address Unknown. He IS in fact the murderer John Mirra himself. He realizes this when he hides in a bathroom and looks at himself in the mirror, finding John Mirra looking back at him.
  • Too Dumb to Live: During the subway sequence in the first game, Max finds a transit cop who survived the massacre. The cop lets Max into the subway control room by punching in his code. Then the cop immediately walks in front of the opening door and eats some buckshot from a bad guy. He didn't even draw his gun, assuming he even had one. And if he didn't, why did he try to just stroll into an unsecured room instead of letting Max handle it? Force of habit?
  • Train Escape: Done by Vinnie Gognitti in the first game.
  • 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.
  • Trapped Undercover: The main plot of the first game kicks off when Max's handler is killed, leaving him trapped on the wrong side of the law.
  • Trope Maker: The success of Max Payne would result in a number of third-person action shooters built around slow-motion bullet-time acrobatics being released in the early 2000's, most of which tried to set themselves apart by incorporating melee combat into the mix. Prominent examples include the BloodRayne, Dead to Rights, and True Crime: Streets of L.A. series.
  • 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.
  • The Un-Favourite: Lord Valentine to his mother, Matriarch of York, after falling in love with a lady of a lower class in the Lords and Ladies soap opera in the second game.
  • 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.
  • Vengeance Feels Empty: Present to an extent in the series.
    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.
  • Vengeance Feels Empty: Even after achieving his revenge in the first game, Max is still haunted by the trauma of the deaths of his wife and daughter in the second and third games. He even outright states to a sex chat line in the second game that killing everyone responsible hasn't helped.
  • Vengeful Vending Machine: In the third level of the first game, a vending machine refuses to co-operate with a mook, prompting the following conversation between two mooks:
    Mook 1: Piece of crap! (kicks the vending machine)
    Mook 2: Haha, ooh, careful! It might kick back! (starts singing) De dee de de dee, killer vending machine...
    Mook 1: You talkin' to me?
    Mook 2: Tough guy, scary...
  • Very High Velocity Rounds: Averted in the first game, where Max's and enemy bullets are the same speed. Played straight in the second and third games, where Max's bullets are significantly faster than anyone else's.
  • 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), and all Max does is Follow the Plotted Line. 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.
    Max: There are no choices. Nothing but a straight line. The illusion comes afterwards, when you ask "why me?" and "what if?". When you look back and see the branches, like a pruned bonsai tree, or forked lightning. If you had done something differently, it wouldn't be you, it would be someone else looking back, asking a different set of questions.
    Vlad: Hypothetically, if the only choice you have is to do the wrong thing, it's not really the wrong thing. It's more like fate.
  • 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. Bonus point in the first with the Valkyr junkies, who will start crying when you shoot them, and satisfyingly moan in agonizing pain when they die.
  • Video Game 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.
  • Villain in a White Suit: Mafiya boss Vlad wears one in 2, and is a traitorous piece of work.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Both Horne and Vlad undergo these as Max closes in. Slightly subverted with Horne in that she gets annoyed, but remains confident that Max will die. Her subordinates however, are much more terrified than she is.
  • Visual Pun: In the first two games, The icon that displays Max's amount of Bullet-Time is two pistol bullets joined at the tips to form an hourglass symbol.
  • Vocal Evolution: Particularly in 3, James McCaffrey'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, but bowed out due to fan outcry and the fact that the long development period meant McCaffrey had aged as much as the character).
  • Vocal Dissonance: Max's voice really doesn't fit the facial expressions Sam Lake uses in the first game.
  • The Voice: Vinnie's boss in 2. You only hear him on Vinnie's answering machine, where he tells Vinnie that he went against his orders to not go to war with Vlad, and he's on his own. He's listed as "Godfather" in the credits.
  • Walk It Off:
    • If Max is 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.
  • 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: No, 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.
  • "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.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Max does this to himself all the time.
  • 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.
    • The third game also has the moment where Max is visiting his family's grave and gets attacked by a bunch of italian mobsters who want revenge on him. The first thing he does? Take cover behind his wife and daughter's grave which is then shot to bits as it offers him protection, something that Michelle and Rose have been doing for Max through out the entire franchise.
  • 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 Candy Dawn and Nicole Horne in 1, and 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
  • 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.
  • 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 Have Outlived Your Usefulness: When Max breaks into the Deep Six facility, the Killer Suits set the place to self-destruct to destroy all evidence, which includes the Commandoes guarding the facility. When a Commando objects to this, the Suits gun him down with extreme prejudice. The Commandoes, for their part, stick to their orders and start massacring the Deep Six scientists.
  • You Killed My Father: Anthony DeMarco family patriarch's reason for hating Max is that he killed his son.
  • You Watch Too Much X:

    Max Payne 3 

  • Action Bomb: 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: This applies to Max, 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.
  • Air-Vent Passageway: Played with: 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.
  • Adrenaline Time: Present 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.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Max feels this way about Serrano. Even after putting Max through hordes 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 being beaten to a pulp and likely 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.
  • All Love Is Unrequited: During most of the cutscenes you see him in, Marcelo Branco 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.
  • Atomic F-Bomb: 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.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: The Grenade Launcher 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, and its trajectory is so poor that you have to practically aim it skywards to have any hope of hitting your target. 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.
  • Badass Beard: Max's scruffy beard, though it's also a Beard of Sorrow.
  • Badass Boast: To Neves.
    Max: Well, your "powerful people" aren't gonna help you out of this one, buddy.
  • Badass Bystander: 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.
  • The Bad Guys Are Cops:the UFE.
  • Beard of Sorrow: Max , after becoming alcoholic, having lost Mona, and being forced to abandon his home to some third-world shithole. It starts as Perma-Stubble in Chapter 1 and gets thicker over the next two chapters.
  • Berserk Button:
    • 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.
  • 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), that some have argued that this hurts the game more than it helps, as the sheer amount of untranslated dialogue means that players who do not understand it miss out on many subtle details and world-building conversations.
      • 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.
    • Also, some of the TV shows and commercials in Portuguese have jokes which, in order to the player understand them, it requires not only to know the language, but a little of Brazilian folklore too.
  • Bling-Bling-BANG!: Golden Gun parts can be collected for use in single-player and multiplayer.
  • Blown Across the Room: For the most part, the death animations realistically show the effects of being shot. At one point in the twelfth level, however, you've got an enemy standing in front of a glass panel. If you kill him with a shot from a handgun, he'll simply slump against the glass, but killing him with a rifle or shotgun will cause him to be flung backwards hard enough to shatter the glass.
  • Body Horror:
    • Remember the old Max from the original with the slightly closed eyes and constipated face? Yeah they put it in as an updated model, look at it in all its realistic glory here
    • 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: 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 when 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.
    • Played straight at the end of the third chapter, where Rego has a clear shot on Max and Passos's helicopter with his RPG, but is talked down by Neves, who says they're just there to get the money, not kill Max. If he had allowed him to take the shot, the game would've ended there and the bad guys would've gotten away with everything.
    • At the end of Chapter 12, Neves has Max at his mercy, but chooses to engage in Evil Gloating instead of just putting a round in Max's head, which gives Passos a window of opportunity to intervene.
  • Border Patrol: 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.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Shows up during the boat chase in Chapter 5 and the bus shootout at the end of Chapter 12. The former has your gun overheat if you shoot too much, while the latter gives you an infinite supply of magazines. There's also the Glock 18, which somehow manages to squeeze 33 rounds into a standard 17-round Glock magazine.
  • Bragging Rights Reward: 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. 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.
  • Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: In the final mission, Max needs to turn on the power to get a tram so he can get to his destination. When he does, he quips:
    Max: 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.
  • Brick Joke: One of the Clues that Max can collect is a conversation with an American tourist. In the strip club mission, the tourists admits he's only there because it offers the cheapest women of any place he's gone to, and that all the girls said they were 18 or older. When Max breaks out of his cell in U.F.E. H.Q., he notices the same tourist in another cell, who keeps insisting that the girls told him they were 18.
  • Bullying a Dragon: 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: 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:
    • The 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, 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.
    • Most of the single-player achievements in 3 are named after Max's quotes from the earlier games.
  • Camera Screw: Quite a few times in 3, the camera just refuses to let you see who landed the fatal hit when you get downed. 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.
  • Changed My Mind, Kid: At the end of Chapter 10, Passos flies off with Giovanna without waiting for Max. Two chapters later, Max finds himself at a mercy of Neves, only for Passos to come back and bail him out.
  • Chekhov's Gun: 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, 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.
  • Clothing Damage: During the last level, 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.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Passos 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", the pillars that Max has to place C4 on are red.note 
  • Continue Your Mission, Dammit!: 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 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 Winterson, Vinnie Gognitti (or what was left of him to bury) and Nicole Horne.
  • Continuity Cavalcade: The "Ain't No Reprievement Gonna Be found Otherwise." mission Everybody's buried in the same cemetery.
  • Cool, but Inefficient: The laser sight attached to some of the weapons actually makes your aim actively worse. It may be realistic to have the laser jumping around when shooting, but still.
  • Coup de Grâce: At the end of the first level, you see some UFE members do this to downed gangbangers, the first sign that something's up with them.
  • 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.
  • Crime of Self-Defense: Anthony De Marco wants to kill Max for killing his son Anthony Jr., even though it was Anthony Jr. that started the fight.
  • 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.
  • Cutscene Boss: 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 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.
  • 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.
  • Darker and Edgier: Gone from this entry are the fantastical criminal conspiracies, instead being replaced by a more realistic, horrifying organ theft scheme/political scandal. The violence has also gotten worse with enemies having gory exit and entry wounds when shot, a scene where a bunch of mooks are turned into paste from a firebomb, a guy getting necklaced (getting immolated while trapped in tires), a man getting horrifically disfigured by a grenade being blown up in his face, and the Big Bad suffering a compound fracture in his leg courtesy of Max himself. Speaking of Max, holy shit does this guy need a hug; the poor man is a shadow of his former self, becoming an alcoholic and pill addict, he's more bitter and cynical than ever, and he repeatedly fails to rescue the people he cares about, only being able to extract revenge on the people who hurt them.
  • 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.
  • Decon-Recon Switch: 3, in its entirety, is a deconstruction of Max himself. In 1 and 2, Max was a hardened, cool-as-ice badass, whose family's death drove to become a Berserker, Bullet Time-using 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 boss's son) could have been avoided entirely if Max had simply stopped and calmed down. Likewise, his copious use of painkillers, due to them being the health packs, left him addicted to them. The whole of 3 basically takes Max and shows the audience that being Max would fucking suck. 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 gets 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.
  • Defector from Decadence: Villainous example, 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.
  • Double Tap: Max does this to Becker if the player chooses to Mercy Kill him.
  • 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. 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...
  • Elite Mooks: Elite U.F.E. tactical troops are equipped with full body armor and military-grade weaponry; they can take multiple shots to bring down (what would be fatal damage to a gangbanger only knocks them down for a couple seconds), and wear ballistic helmets that can deflect one or two headshots.
    • Gas Mask Mooks: Some of the U.F.E. elite soldiers wear gas masks and use laser sights on their guns. Justified as these guys usually try to use tear gas against you.
  • Evil Versus Evil: 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?
  • Facial Composite Failure: 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 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.
    • In the right circumstances, enemies can instantly kill Max with a headshot. Not even Last Chance will save Max if this happens.
  • Fake Nationality: In-universe: Raul Passos 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 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: Victor Branco is running on a right-wing law and order ticket, but is actually heading both an organ theft ring, and pitting paramilitary groups against each other to frighten people into voting for him. He also had his brothers murdered to gain access to the family fortune
  • Fashion-Victim Villain: Hero, really, but intentionally invoked with Max, 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. In the two flashbacks (Chapters IV and VIII), Max is dressed as he was in the second game, right down to that horrific necktie.
  • Fatal Family Photo: Subverted 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.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • On the second level, Giovanna mentions that during her charity work she has noticed people have been going missing and more bodies have turned up. This hints where the the organs are coming from
    • One of the TVs you can watch 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 them or calling for paramedics, signifying their brutality 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.
    • Also from the first level, the American tourist is a retired policeman from Bismark, North Dakota - which is Ludendorf, North Yankton in Creator/Rockstar world, where Grand Theft Auto V starts.
  • Final Death Mode: Drop the ball in "New York Minute Hardcore" mode and you're going back to the start of the whole game.
  • Firing One-Handed: Zigzagged. Max normally fires handguns with both hands, but if you have a two-handed weapon in your inventory, he'll fire with one hand while holding the other weapon with the other hand.
  • Forgot About His Powers:
    • When 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 there is 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.
  • Friend or Foe: The "Paranoia" burst is meant to invoke this on the enemy team. To set the base, friendly fire is off by default in most multiplayer modes. Level 1 Paranoia causes the enemy team to see everyone, friend or foe, as an enemy (including red player names and red reticule when aiming at them), causing them to either hesitate when aiming (as they take a few seconds to verify the target's allegiance), or waste ammo on friendlies and cause them to reveal themselves to the other team. Higher levels of this burst outright turns on friendly fire for the other team, meaning bad calls can lead to unintentional blue-on-blue incidents. All effects of this burst, however, are countered by someone carrying the "ID Tags" equipment.
  • From Bad to Worse: 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.
  • Gameplay and Story Integration: In a rare case in gaming, Max averts No Cutscene Inventory Inertia by hauling the guns you bring into a cutscene. This is most noticeable if you're carrying a two-handed weapon, where his cutscene animations actually accommodate for this by keeping it in the off-hand, unless a situation either forces his weapons from his hands or he swaps to a different weapon for a set piece.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation:
    • Max is shot by a sniper in the arm pretty early on 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.
    • 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.
    • A major criticism was that Max's alcoholism is effectively an Informed Flaw as far as gameplay goes: it never impacts upon his ability to aim or run.
  • Gangbangers: The plot 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 Shift: The first two games were heavily inspired by the works of John Woo and other Hong Kong action filmmakers. The third game is based more on Hollywood action movies like Die Hard.
  • A Glass in the Hand: Max does it rather indifferently to show just how much of a mess his life and body are in.
  • Gold Digger: Max's opinion of Fabiana. It's also her husband's opinion.
    Rodrigo: She does not love me for my body.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: When Serrano kills Dr. Fischer, the camera cuts away just before he stabs the doctor with a scalpel.
  • Guide Dang It!: At one point, 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.
  • A Handful for an Eye: Done by Max.
  • Happy Ending Override: At the end of the second game, it seemed like Max was in a better place psychologically, having finally come to terms with his family's death. When the third game opens, Max has fallen into alcoholism and is filled with more guilt and self-loathing than ever.
  • He Knows Too Much: Da Silva knows this will happen to him if he digs too deep, so he points the much more combat-competent Max in the right direction instead.
  • Heavily Armored Mook: Max fights about 3 or 4 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. To a lesser extent there are also U.F.E. Elite Mooks equipped with full tactical body armor; they can take multiple bullets to bring down and their helmets can even deflect poorly aimed headshots.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: By the end of the 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.
  • Hellhole Prison: The UFE prison 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.
    • Before that, we have the Imperial Palace Hotel, a dilapidated building that was once a luxury resort, but sometime after it was abandoned and condemned was used by the Cracha Preto to hold favela residents, criminal or not, rounded up, and sold to them, by the UFE. The captives are then kept alive long enough so that a surgeon can cut their organs out to be sold on the black market.
  • Hired Guns: The Crachá Preto.
  • Hollywood Silencer: Zig-zagged when Max duct tapes a water bottle to his pistol 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.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: 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 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.
  • 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 amoral 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 shot as a result. Maybe he couldn't see some of the mooks who were out of view from the window, but it would still have made more sense for Max to shoot Serrano and the mooks he could see from outside first. Then maybe he could've saved her.
    • 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 whether 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. He's right about Fabianna, but Marcello takes the entire cake.
  • Ignored Epiphany:
    • Max ignores the moment of clarity he had at the end of 2. It's bitterly lampshaded up and down the game.
    • Max also promptly forgets his drug-induced realizations that he is in a graphic novel and a computer game as soon as he sobers up.
  • Important Haircut: Max shaves his head 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.
  • Improperly Placed Firearms: UFE uses the M1911 as their side-arm. Real-life Brazilian police, especially the special forces on which UFE is based, use the PT92. Especially baffling since the PT92 is in the game, but is only used by the Commando Sombra.
  • Incredibly Durable Enemies: Even the weakest of goons 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.
  • Ink-Suit Actor: Max is modeled after James McCaffrey, who has been the voice actor for Max across the series. In fact, most of the major characters in 3 are modeled after their voice actors.
  • Instant Death Bullet: A few scripted sequences have enemies die in one shot, regardless of where you hit them. This also happens in Last Man Standing, unless they're wearing armor.
  • Interface Screw: 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.
  • Irony: You get the chance to visit the New York cementery, where Max' family (from 1), Detective Winterson (from 2), Nicole 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.
  • I Surrender, Suckers: Chapter 13 has Max turning himself in to UFE to get to Becker.
  • Karma Houdini: Victor taunts Max at the end of the game claiming he'll be this. It doesn't turn out that way.
  • Karmic Death: The doctor doing the organ harvesting is killed when one of the people he was going to harvest kills him with a scalpel.
  • Kick Them While They Are Down: 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.
  • Last Stand: What Max will try to do 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.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall:
    • When 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 NPCs. 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.
  • Limited Loadout: Unlike the previous games, you can only carry two handguns and one long gun. Max has holsters for the handguns but not the long guns, so if you want to dual-wield you have to drop the long gun.
  • Match Cut: Utilized many times.
  • Meet the New Boss: Supplementary materials state that the Cracha Preto liberate favelas from the Gangbangers oppressing the people and then go right on oppressing.
  • Mêlée à Trois: Happens twice: 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 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. 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 when Max, 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?
    Max: So, you're gonna bring him down?
    Da Silva [chuckles] Yes, because I want to lose my wife, and my children, and then get killed myself, all that after watching him walk free.
  • Money Is Not Power: When Max reaches the innermost part of the Imperial Palace Hotel, he discovers Dr. Fisher, who frantically attempts to excuse his part in the crime of stealing organs from the kidnapped urban poor en mass by claiming that this heinous act is going to going to save lives. Having absolutely none of this, Max points a gun at him, which causes Fisher to attempt to bribe Max with an armful of money. Max just lets the money drop on the floor, and lets Serrano, who prior to that point had been antagonizing Max, kill Fisher for harvesting the organs of his friends and neighbors.
  • Motive Decay: Supplementary materials 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.
  • Mr. Exposition: Da Silva. He literally shows up every two hours of gameplay to explain the storyline and what to do next.
  • Mugging the Monster: 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.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • When continuing from a checkpoint, the loading screens are in the style of the graphic novel panels from the previous games.
    • Quitting to the main menu during the first New Jersey flashback level changes the background to a recreation of the menu art from the first game.
    • The police sketch of Max shown during the news broadcast of Rodrigo's death is of his appearance in the first game, complete with the constipated squint and slightly raised eyebrow.
  • Nerf: Shootdodging has become much less useful than it was in the first two games; one use now completely drains your entire bullet-time meter, and the game being rebalanced to focus around the new cover and blindfire systems now means that relying on shootdodging to clear a room is a pretty good way to get riddled with bullets.
  • Never Suicide: In the epilogue, Victor is found dead in his cell while awaiting trial. The authorities rule it a suicide, but it's heavily implied that he was killed as retribution for his many crimes.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: 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.
  • No-Gear Level: When Max is robbed of his weapons, he has to make his way to a brothel without grabbing attention. Yeah, a bald white guy with everything short of a gigantic "Gringo" sign floating over his head won't attract attention.
  • Non-Action Big Bad: Victor Branco. 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.
  • No Range Like Point-Blank Range: Done after the end of a Pistol-Whipping combo.
  • Non Standard Game Over: If the player takes too long to move in certain chapters it sometimes will result in a cutscene in which Raul or the current V.I.P. is killed. Chapter XII features a segment that, if you take too long to kill all the enemies, results in a cutscene of the building going down due to the explosives.
  • Noodle Incident:
    • 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.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: Pulled on Max by himself in usual Self Deprecationing style where he considers how the Cracha Preto are gunmen on a payroll and wonders if that's all he is.
  • Only a Flesh Wound: The shot Max takes in the soccer stadium. It goes through his shoulder and severely hampers 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 .50BMG 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 and should have turned his shoulder into ground beef.
  • Organ Theft: This turns out to be the main 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: The third chapter has several rooms where you can either directly engage the enemy, or wait in hiding until they leave.
  • Press X to Die: Max Payne 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.
  • 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 flashbacke, 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: shooting an enemy in the head results in a very gruesome wound and a spray of blood. The only wrinkle is that the wound is the same size regardless of whether you're using a 9MM pistol or a .50 BMG sniper rifle.
  • Plot-Powered Stamina: Taken to extremes 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 third level, 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.
  • Put Their Heads Together: Max does this to two UFE officers in Chapter 13 after pulling an I Surrender, Suckers.
  • Puzzle Boss: True to form for the series. Bechmeyer has to be flushed out of cover by dropping debris from the ceiling on him before he can be shot, at which point he's no tougher than any other Elite Mook, and Final Boss Becker is basically a Flunky Boss who hides behind an impenetrable shield while you kill his goons and shoot his grenades out of the air until a cutscene triggers.
  • Real Is Brown: An aversion. The present-day missions occur in lush São Paulo, while the flashbacks take place in icy New Jersey.
  • 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.
  • Restrained Revenge: At the end of the game, Max has Victor at his mercy. He is talked out of pulling the trigger by Da Silva, but not before stomping on Victor's leg hard enough to make the bone actually break his skin.
  • Revolvers Are Just Better: The game has revolvers in .38 Special and .357 Magnum varieties. Both pack a serious punch.
  • Riding into the Sunset: The game ends with Max walking off into the sunset on a beach in Bahia, Brazil.
  • Say My Name: When Max thinks he has finally cornered Becker.
    Max: Bec-KER!!!
  • 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.
  • Scenery Gorn: Several rundown places that appear in the game are very detailed and have a good overall atmosphere, the favela present in chapters VII and IX is the most notable example.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: 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 Goes Foreign: Max has up and left 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: The Unidade de Forças Especiais are a special forces unit of military police. The name translates from Portuguese as "Special Forces Unit".
  • Show Within a Show: The game features several television sets as per the rest of the series, with most of them in Portuguese save the news broadcasts.
  • Shown Their Work:
    • Rockstar's portrayal of São Paulo is praiseworthy for the level of authenticity and work put into it. Rockstar went as far as bringing 3D scanning equipment to the city to ensure that buildings and citizens would be accurately modeled.
    • 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.
    • 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.
  • Soft Glass: Played to a ridiculous extreme so that 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 Reboot: The game has a completely different setting than the first two, with Max himself being the only character carrying over. Story-wise, the game feels less like a Film Noir and more like a summer blockbuster, and the gameplay is slower and more tactical than the run-and-gun style of the first two games.
  • Soft Water: Max drops about thrice his height into a tiny patch of water that doesn't fully cover him even when lying horizontal. Zig-zagged in that when he gets out, he is admittedly heavily injured and implied to have broken several bones, but if he had actually fallen like that in reality, he wouldn't even have been able to move.
  • Solemn Ending Theme: Tears by Health.
  • Spanner in the Works: Da Silva, without whom Max would never have known how to go after the villains, and thus they would have gotten away with it all.
  • Spoiler Opening: 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 ability to sprint is added in this game.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
    • The favela Gangbangers 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.
    • Max's cutscene incompetence moments are mostly due to him being a depressed, drugged and drunk individual just going through the motions waiting for someone to put him out of his misery. He's even worse when he goes cold turkey because he is in the middle of severe withdrawal and still in kind of in a death-seeking mood, which leads to Fabiana's death. It's only after he gets enough time to recover and becomes too angry to stop not caring about the villains' plan anymore that he shapes up.
    • Max spent the majority of the first two games popping painkillers like candy to heal himself. Come the third game, and he's addicted.
    • Da Silva is one of the few honest cops in San Palo and is aware of Victor Branco and the UFE's crimes; he wants to stop them but does he do it all by himself? Fuck, no! Victor is rich, has all the right connections, and has a literal fucking army at his fingertips to deal with anyone who messes up his plans, so that's why Da Silva gets Max to get evidence against the UFE and Branco and kill anyone who tries to stop him, because Max can do the things he can't since he's a badass One-Man Army with nothing to lose, while Da Silva has his career, his life, and his family's lives to worry about. He's not a coward for getting Max to do the hard shit, he's just being pragmatic.
    • Controlling Max in this game is a much more tactile experience than in the first two thanks to the Euphoria animation engine - reality ensues on you just about every time you find yourself forced out of bullet time when an ill-aimed shoot dodge has you collapsing over an inconveniently-placed couch or waist-high wall, or slamming into a wall, struggling to stand up while taking potshots at enemies.
    • Instead of being able to have around 10-12 different weapons on his person at a time like in the first two games, this game has a more limited and realistic weapons layout. Max can only hold three different weapons at a time, two sidearms (pistols, revolvers, machine pistols/small SMGs, and sawed off shotguns) and one longarm weapon (assualt rifles, sniper rifles, shotguns, SMGs, and grenade launchers); Max has dual shoulder holsters in each level to hold his sidearms while using a longarm weapon, but if he switches to one of his sidearms, he has to hold the longarm weapon in his free hand and drop the bigger weapon if the player wishes to go Guns Akimbo.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Nicole Horne and Victor Branco are surprisingly similar Big Bads. 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.
  • Sticks to the Back: Averted; Max has to hold whatever longarm he has in his free hand when he's not using it and drop if he duel wields his sidearms.
  • Take Cover!: Max Payne 3 introduces a cover system.
  • Take That!: 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.
  • Time Skip: The 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: The title of every chapter is inevitably dropped in one of the lines said by characters during said chapter.
  • Theme Naming: May be unintentional, but both known UFE leaders, Becker and Bachmeyer, have German-Brazilian names.
  • There Are Two Kinds of People in the World: Max says there are two kinds of people: those who focus on building a future, and those who spend all their time trying to rebuild the past.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: 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.
  • Token Romance: An In-Universe example invoked by Max 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, and ultimately their deaths affect him more. Considering the second game takes place over one night, he only ever involved himself with Mona when he was killing people, and he knew Mona for an incredibly small amount of time compared to his wife, this actually makes quite a bit of sense.
  • 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.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Marcelo. His decision to just go out into favelas with the ransom and just give the money to the kidnappers and hope for the best was very brave, but no matter how you look at it, very stupid.
  • 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 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 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: Max at the end, though it is more of a train chase as he is trying to catch up to the Big Bad.
  • Tropical Epilogue: The game 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.
  • Two Shots from Behind the Bar:
    • A bartender in a strip bar 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 game has Serrano. You get close to him but never have a proper gunfight.
    • Anthony DeMarco as well. While he's the main antagonist of the chapters that take place in New Jersey, Max never actually fights him, deciding to leave the US with Raul instead.
  • Unstoppable Rage: The second to last level 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.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: In most cases the game doesn't penalize you for killing bystanders, and there are several points where you can shoot random people For the Evulz. It is a Rockstar game after all.
  • Vigilante Man: According to supplementary material, the Cracha Preto were originally lawmen hunting down criminals the law couldn't or wouldn't touch. Originally.
  • 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.
  • Wall of Weapons: There's a slight example - 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.
  • What the Hell, Player?: 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?: 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.
  • X Meets Y: In-Universe: after fighting off Serrano's heavily armed street gang, Max refers to Sao Paulo as "Baghdad with g-strings."
  • You Bastard!: Max more or less is talking to the player at the start.
    Max: 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.

There was something disturbingly familiar about the letter before me. The handwriting was all pretty curves.

"You're on a trope page, Max."

The index bars crept up on me like angry ghouls 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 hundreds upon hundreds 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.

Alternative Title(s): Max Payne 3, Max Payne 2 The Fall Of Max Payne, Max Payne 2


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: