Max Payne is a very interesting character, a man who lost his entire family, being clearly still traumatized by the event and its circumstances. He then reacted by violently going after those he blamed for the act and after those who are associated in any way with the moral values that led to the deaths of the loved ones.
Yet, in the first few minutes of Max Payne 3
, the character is drawn into a monolog and discussion that deals with how the rich and the famous separate themselves from the paupers surrounding them and how this separation seems to invite the exact kind of violence that led to his family’s death.
The game takes places mostly in Brazil, in Sao Paulo, where the high rises of the famous, rich and powerful are heavily defended from the favelas where the poor live.
Max is initially hired to only make sure that no contact exists between a trophy wife and the underclass (although things quickly escalate in simple and direct Max Payne fashion).
The writing team at Rockstar takes the occasion to talk about how wealth and inequality leads to a cycle of violence as long as the underlying social and economic causes are not addressed.
It is pretty clear that the Brazilian family who hired Max is pretty crooked and knows only to resolve situations via threats, money or outright violence.
Yet the writers are mostly smart enough to never talk about these issues directly, instead allowing players, via the protagonist, to see the consequences (exaggerated but not too much) and then ask their own questions about what has happened and why.
There are moments when the cutscenes themselves seem a little overwritten and the Houser brothers appear to be actually preaching about their own worldview, but they are fairly limited and don’t stand in the way of a solid social critique via violent gameplay.