Can a man renounce his past, let go of all that happened and erase all memories and then simply move on with his life?
The answer coming out of Max Payne 3, the third-person shooter from developer Rockstar and publisher 2K Games, is a clear “no,” because the main character, no matter what he does and how hard he tries, cannot let go at all.
He is always haunted by his family, dead in their home while he was away, unable to protect them, and by the love of his life, Mona Sax, killed because she was his only chance to claw back out of the gutter and become a man who had a shot at normality.
The most interesting part about Max Payne is that he seems to be really trying to escape his own past in a variety of ways.
This ex-cop is ready to give up his training and his cop habits and throw himself intro reckless fights and impossible situations in order to die and escape his past, but the mechanics of the genre bring him back every time.
He also tries to use painkillers and alcohol, a potent combination, to leave his memories behind; yet, despite their ill effects and their impact on his performance as a private security contractor, they also lack the punch to knock trauma out of his system.
In my full Softpedia review of Max Payne 3, I criticized Rockstar a bit for injecting too much social and political commentary into the game, somewhat obscuring the human drama that takes place.
I stand by that point mainly because we see Max Payne talk about the world around him a lot, commenting on his employers and on those he faces in gunfights, but his reflexive periods are limited and often lack the depth required to explore his feelings about the past and how he might eventually get away from it.