Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne – A Film Noir Love Story
"They were all dead. Love kills. Did I love her? Was there a choice? The past is a gaping hole. You try to run from it, but the more you run, the deeper, more terrible it grows behind you, its edges yawning at your heels. Your only chance is to turn around and face it."
Two years have passed; Max quit his job with the DEA and is back with the NYPD as a detective.
"I had wanted to be punished for what I had done. But Alfred Woden had kept his word. With his influence, ridiculously, I had emerged from my history of violence unscathed, a hero. I didn't thank him. I couldn't stomach it. I left the DEA. I went back to where I started out, back to the job, the NYPD."
While investigating a series of murders by a group of contract killers called 'The Cleaners,' Max responds to a call of shots fired at a warehouse.
"It wasn't a call for a homicide detective, but I knew the address. The warehouse belonged to Vladamir Lem. He was connected to organized crime. We went back a while. 'Like brothers caught on the opposite sides in a Civil War'. His words."
Max finds Annie Finn the gun maker, but the Cleaners fire before Max can intervene.
"Like all the bad things in my life, it started with the death of a woman. I couldn't save her."
Max runs into Mona Sax in the middle of his investigation. She emerges from the elevator to kill three Cleaners, then fades away.
"Max, we’ve gotta stop meeting like this."
Wanted for the murder of Senator Gate, Mona is arrested and brought in for questioning. Max overhears his new partner, Detective Valerie Winterson, talking on the phone and shortly after, the PD is attacked by the Cleaners who are looking for Mona, but she has already broken out of her cell and disappeared. Max and Mona meet up at the Cleaner’s HQ where Detective Winterson attempts to shoot Mona. Max instinctively shoots Winterson, unclear at the time — even to himself — why.
"The genius of the hole. No matter how long you spend climbing out, you can still fall back down in an instant."
Max is conflicted because he finds he has strong feelings for Mona, and he isn’t sure if what he is doing is right.
"I had a dream of my wife. In it, I murdered her for my lover."
Max learns the Cleaners work for his old ‘friend’ Vladimir Lem the Russian mob boss. Max finds out Vlad is part of the Inner Circle with Alfred Wooden. He learns that Winterson was Vlad’s girlfriend, and Vlad shoots Max in the head for this and leaves him for dead in a burning building. Mona saves Max and together they go to Wooden’s mansion to save him from Lem’s attack. At the mansion, Mona tries to follow her order to kill Max, but her feelings win out in the end.
"The Cleaners, Annie Finn, Senator Gate, Mr. Corcoran — they were just peripheral noise surrounding the case. Winterson's murder was what it was all about, the cost of passion, my courtship of Mona Sax. My case, my crime. It wasn't about finding the killer, I was it. It was about looking for a deserving patsy to pin the blame on."
Vlad shoots Mona in the back after he realizes she won’t kill Payne. Max takes his revenge on Lem and stops him from becoming the leader of the Inner Circle. Payne then returns to Mona’s side, but she dies in his arms.
If you play on the highest difficulty Mona lives.
Will Mona return in Max Payne 3?
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Max Payne: The Story So Far
Max Payne 3 is chambered and ready to fire, but before the final chapter hits us like a 50 cal round to the temple, here is a refresher of what’s happened to the noir detective up to now.
If you haven’t played the past Max Payne titles, this writer highly recommends it. If you have no interest in playing older games but want to get the backstory, please continue; the story is deep and well written, with twists and turns that make playing through them again feel like your watching your favorite movie.
"Something goes clank in the night, and the sound is close enough to a gunshot to take me back to the beginning."
It was back in 1998 that Max Payne, a New York police office, came home to his own personal hell. Three insane attackers killed his wife and baby daughter. At the end of the firefight, the three men lay dead, but the damage was done.
"It started three years ago in my bedroom. And I haven't left that room since. The killer dead at my feet on the floor. Michelle lying on the bed. Bullet holes like rubies on her chest. Our baby's cry cut short, the absence of it heavy in the air. That gunshot, like an exclamation mark to end it all, the answer to all my questions, had already rung out a long time ago, even its echoes gone. The gun was fused to my hand from that moment on. That room inside me, everywhere I go."
After the funeral Payne transfers to the DEA and goes deep undercover with the Lupino crime family looking for the source of the new designer drug that has emerged on the streets called Valkyr.
"Max Payne as a DEA special agent was erased from the vast network of databases, and replaced with a new version of me: Max Payne, the career criminal with a mile-long rap sheet."
In a secret meeting that went south Max witnesses the murder of his best friend and only link to the outside: Alex Balder.
"There was nothing I could do. He was dead. I could tell by the empty accusing stare of his eyes."
Max goes back to Jack Lupino to find answers, but instead he just finds more trouble. The mob knows Max is a cop, and the cops think Max is a murderer; with no one left to trust, Max is forced to find the answers on his own while also trying to clear his name and stay alive.
"Lupino wasn't in his cheap hotel. Instead, I ran into the Finito brothers. My cover had been blown. The doors slammed shut behind me. And then I was dodging bullets like raindrops."
While hunting down Jack Lupino, Max meets Mona Sax at Ragnarok, the twin sister of the Don’s wife, Lisa. She has her own reasons for wanting to kill the Don.
"This one's mine. I hate the guts of that sadistic wife-beater."
Max tries to stop her, but shes a step ahead of him. Having drugged his whiskey, he passes out and she leaves him alone with his thoughts.
"The nightmare was always the same. Violent shapes moving in darkness, old and ugly. The killer's mad laughter was a riddle filled with wicked innuendo. Somewhere the baby was crying."
With no one left to trust and the worst winter storm in recorded history bearing down on the city, Max finds a friend in Vladimir Lem — a Russian arms dealer.
"Vladamir 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."
With Vlad’s guns, Max confronts the Don, but he is too late; the Don is killed by agents of Nicole Horne the CEO of the Aesir Corporation. Horne injects Max with an overdose of Valkyr and leaves him for dead. Max survives, but not before being thrown into the deepest, darkest parts of his mind once more, where he is forced to relive his family’s tragic deaths, this time in exaggerated drug-laced detail.
"Slowly, the green nightmare faded, leaving dark stains on my soul that would never come off. I felt like flat-lining. I was all shook up. I woke up in a cold sweat, sick and tired to the bone, lying in a puddle of my own puke. The hag had said 'Take me to Cold Steel' before it had all gone crazy. It was a clue. The only one I had."
Presumed dead, Max sneaks into Horne’s secret lab and discovers Valkyr was the result of the Valhalla project — a drug designed to boost soldier morale and stamina for the U.S. Military in the late 90s. Max learns his family was killed because his wife had found out about the testing. Horne sent her test subjects in to deal with is wife, but with the drug being unstable, Max lost much more.
"The drop-off point was my old address in New Jersey. The file dated three years ago. Just when you thought you had reached the deepest depths of horror, it suddenly got worse."
Max meets with Alfred Wooden, a super rich member of “The Inner Circle." They need Max to dispatch Horne and in return will clear his name. With a plan, a gun, and a healthy dose of revenge coursing through his veins, Max takes out the people responsible for killing his family.
"They were all dead. The final gunshot was an exclamation mark to everything that had led up to this point. I released my finger from the trigger. And then it was all over. The storm seemed to lose its frenzy. The ragged clouds gave way to the stars above."