Max Payne 3 and beating of levels of depression.

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Max Payne 3 and beating of levels of depression.

I wanted to post something I wrote a while ago. I did not write it as a post or a blog. I just wrote it the morning after a bad night. I want to make something very clear. I am not in this position anymore. I am very happy, off anti-depressants and do not need therapy anymore. However, I do know that a lot of people find it hard to talk about depression and I figure it might help someone. Also, I think depression needs as many kicks in the balls as it can get.

Max Payne 3 and the beating of levels of depression. 

As I lay in bed early afternoon, still drunk from the night before and feeling new levels of self loathing and depression a tiny thought snuck into my head. It was to do with Max Payne 3 and depression. Max Payne has a special place in my heart. The original is still my favourite game. Max Payne 3 saw me through two separate instances on depression when I was signed off from work for over two months. It kept me occupied and from thinking about self harm. It mostly worked on this count. It kept me from thinking too many dark thoughts and gave time for my anti-depressants to do their thing. The reason it helped was that I became very good at it. I say this not to brag – but hey, who I am kidding? I completed the New York Minute Hardcore mode. I completed a thirty gigabyte game all the way through without dying, under a time limit. What has this to do with depression I hear you rightly ask? A tiny thought that snuck into my brain I answer. What if I put that same level of dedication, patience, attention to detail, honing my reflexes, learning the rules of that world and how to break them, remembering what enemy came out of where and how to dispatch them and not dying into beating depression as I did with Max Payne 3? With depression being the cunt that it is, I will have ample opportunity to replay the same level over and over again until I know it off by heart. As I write this, I have a recurring image playing behind my eyes of me calmly cutting the skin on my left arm. My natural reaction is to repress this. Who would want to think about that? Or acknowledge that they are thinking about doing that to themselves? Perhaps I should remember it. I should remember every bloody detail of it. How the skin separates from the flesh. How, even though I know how much it hurts, I do not stop myself from doing it. The fact that it feels good. I should remember this like the garage scene on the first level of Max Payne 3. I can see it now although it has been over a year since I played it last. Max slides behind a pillar. Enemies run into to cover. The boss is dragged away behind a locked gate. And go…
I should remember thoughts of self harm in this way. I should think of ways of beating this thought. Not dealing with, but beating it. Otherwise I am simply playing the same level over and over again and not wanting to get past it. Which is exactly what I have been doing. So how do I beat this? As I write this I admit I do not know the answer. Yet, even as I write this, another thought has come to me. What would Max Payne do? I do not say this lightly, mockingly or without all due respect to anyone who has ever suffered or suffers depression. I say this as an exercise in thinking through how to beat depression. So, what would old Maxy boy do if a hailstorm of depressive gunfire assailed him?

Option 1: Get into cover.

Ok. Good idea. When depression hits it can hit hard and contrary to logic, when I am at my happiest. It makes sense to bunker down and try to survive. The problem with cover though is that it is purely defensive. I can hide and hope the enemies won’t flank me and creep up on me and eventually, get me.

Luckily, Max Payne makes a habit of not staying in cover. He attacks, but he attacks with a set of skills.

Option 2: Slow down time.

Admittedly, a nifty trick to pull off and one we all wish we could do. Depression does not like me to try this. As soon as I take that first attempt at a calming breath, the panic sweeps in, the rage explodes in my chest and anger swamps my brain. Of course it does this. Depression does not want me to be calm. It is more effective if I am not calm. Much easier to knock me off balance and keep me that way. Yet, is this any different to learning how to guide Max through a burning office building? The principles are the same. Pressure, a need to escape the situation, intense heat. So, I know when I try to calm down depression will fight back. So, I need to find a way to fight back too. Not necessarily harder, just a way that wins. As I write this I do not know how to succeed at this. I am hoping an answer comes to me. I think being in cover while trying to stay calm is a start. Sadly in real life, cover is not always available. Being at work with colleagues does not give a lot of space to cover and deal with an onset of depression. Not withstanding the embarrassment of being depressed at work in the first place. Then again, maybe I have to find my own cover and not rely on it being readily available. Toilet breaks, pretending to smoke to be safely alone for a few minutes, emergency phone call from home that has to be taken can all be ways of getting into cover, even if only for a few minutes. But in those few minutes, I can calm down. I know I have talked my self down from some desperate heights before. Every time I did I had to regain control first. And that came from breathing and forcing myself to be calm. I know this is a contradiction, but desperate times call for desperate measures. In this instance it is a pure battle between me wanting to be calm so I can back to being happy, or at least as close to it as I know how to be and depression wanting me to not be happy. Depression has a whole host of ways to do this. The cocksucker uses my own unconscious against me. It knows secrets that I am not consciously aware of (thanks a bunch repression). It is the perfect time to attack. So what are my options? Breath. Force every other thought out of my head through pure force of will power and a desire not to be beaten and to complete this god damn bitch of a level. One thought. Breath. When I achieve that, everything does not become easier. It is still hard. It is now manageable. Which brings me onto what Max would do next.

Option 3: Attack.

Max leaps out of cover guns blazing. Enemies, stunned by this sudden and unpredicted assault fire wildly, missing him by inches. But those inches are enough. Bullets slam into his foes; they go down in grisly heaps one by one and they are all dead by the time Max hit’s the floor. I know right? If it only it were that simple. The truth is that the ninety nine times I did it this way before I succeeded in my hundred attempt resulted in Max being shot down before I killed anyone and seeing that damn loading screen that told me I had let people, especially Max, down. Max did seem to want to assist his own downfall in this regard by continuously jumping into danger at every available moment. My therapist and my fiancé (who is also a counsellor) would not doubt find it interesting that Max is my hero. A man doomed to tragedy no matter what he does. Yet, that is why he is my hero. He digs himself out of the trouble he finds or puts himself in.

The completing of the game can be done in many ways. My way was to use all of the advantages Max has. This seems fair to me. He is facing a literal army of enemies so needs all the help he can get. My own troubles are much less considerable. So Max Payne tactics should work right?

Get into cover first. Then calm down. Then, using all my knowledge and experience of my depression, where my enemies are going to jump out from, where they are going to lay in wait for me, focusing my aim so I do not miss my targets and staying alive, I can beat my levels of depression. Right?

As I write this I do not know. Yet. I do think I might be able to beat the first level of depression by doing something I should have done a long time ago. Like old Maxy boy, it is time to dry out a bit. Quitting drinking is going to be hard. Luckily, I do not really enjoy it anymore. It affects my anti-depressants too, which is another genius way I have tried to get better before now. Now though, I am seeing it as the option menu before I start the game. I simply need to set it to the ‘not drunk’ setting. As I am a fan of the hard mode of games, I can be ok with this as I have made it plenty hard enough before, and maybe this once, it is ok for me to start this game on easy mode.

So, I will give this idea a try. Now, if there were only something to help me stay occupied so I do not drink for the next seven days. Ah…good old Max saves me again.

Take (the best) care buddies,

David.

[Image retrieved from here]

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About davidmbeecroft

Hello and welcome to my blog. Please feel free to have an explore. My name is David Beecroft. I am 38 years old. I co-founded and ran a small scale touring theatre company called Screwed & Clued in 1998. I went on to tour the Canadian Fringe Theatre Festival circuit over the following five years. I have written six original plays, the last ‘The Poe Show’ won a Best in Fest award at the 2014 Ottawa Fringe Festival. I worked in a social care setting for ten years and now work in a special needs school. I have sent my first novel off to agents and considering self-publishing if that does not work. I co-host a radio show on Surrey Hills Community Radio called Daves of the Week where we feature charities for a six week period. I live with my fiance and two pet Degus. I started this blog when suffering from depression and attending therapy, so a large part of this blog was about my experience and thoughts of that. Since then I am in a much better place and I write about life after depression and how I stay (or try to) ahead of it happening again. I also like to look at the happier sides of life and try to put a positive spin on serious subjects.

19 responses »

    • Oh sweet baby Jesus, yes! The movie made me want to gouge out my eyes so I would never have to see it again. I can never figure out why movie people say,

      ‘Hey, there is this great game called Max Payne. It has a great, dark, twisting storyline where the ending, whilst open, makes sense either way. Now, what we are going to do is completely butcher the awesome storyline and make it terrible, rather than sticking with the original story that was great.’
      ‘Why are we doing that sir?’
      ‘Erm…you are fired.’

      Oh God, you have started the mother of all rants now.

      So, why did they muck up the greatest Batman story-line ever with The Dark Knight Rises? The Knightfall trilogy was epically good. Batman had his back broken after all the inmates of Arkham were released by Bane to weaken Batman for the kill. Batman is broken. A new, psychotic Batman takes over; fuelled by religious brainwashing from birth by an order of holy assassins. New Batman goes mad and defeats Bane. Old Batman searches for a way to heal his broken spine and reclaim the mantle of the Bat. Final part of the trilogy. Batman vs Batman for the right to protect Gotham. Now, tell me, how awesome does that sound? And how sucky was the story in the film compared to it? Bane was the guy who broke the Bat. He deserved better than some weird voice and a death scene where you don’t even see him die. And Batman? He got over his broken spine by hanging in a bit of rope and doing sit-ups? I mean really? God damn it. It makes so angry that they are going to screw up The Dark Knight Returns. Ben Afflecks for fucks sake? Aw God. I am going to have a bath and try not to drown myself in abject sadness at the way stories get buggered.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m glad I’m not the only one who was severely let down by the Max Payne movie!

        Max Payne the video game is totally oldschool film noir detective storytelling — like Sin City but without any accessible humor or anything. Just a straight, dark, gritty, noir detective story.

        I think I was most let down by the music — they don’t ever play the Max Payne theme, or any of the familiar melodies they play during the game. That makes it so much creepier and just overall good.

        None of that at all in the movie.

        It would be like if Sin City was absolutely nothing at all anything close to the characters and storylines in the comic book. (I’ve never read any Sin City so I’m guessing the movie is at least a little like the comic/graphic novel.)

        Max Payne talks like the new Batman does – like dramatically gritty. Mark Wahlberg talks like just normal Marky Mark, and I think he’s even got an east-coast accent? Wow.

        In conclusion, your rant unleashed a rant of my own!

        Not that it is okay, but going from a graphic novel and turning it into a movie, I can kind of see how some things can change because the mind fills in things like a person’s voice when you’re reading a book. But taking a video game — which already had the voices, music and overall feel for what the Max Payne universe looks like — and finding a way to screw that up? That’s just silliness.

        Overall, I think I was actually offended by this movie.

        Now I can see why people get so pissed off about Batman movies!

        -john

        Liked by 1 person

      • I would be furious to see something like what you refer to in the Batman story.

        Did you ever play Max Payne on multiplayer? That’s kind of fun too, but those kids are really really good!

        -john

        Like

      • The death of all good games is multi-player. I play on pc, so had to deal with little twats hacking and cheating with their characters. The pistol whip kills made no sense either. Three shotgun blasts to the head = still alive. One pistol whip = dead. Also, I hit rank 50 on Max Payne 3 multi-player and then my data got deleted on their cloud server. Rockstar basically told me to sod off when I complained.

        Liked by 1 person

      • No. I was a playstation lover until GTA stopped being exclusive, then I moved on the pc gaming as I had more fun with the mods and the aiming is better. Although, getting some games to work on a PC is just ridiculous. I still can’t bloody Watchdogs to work. Oh, and we get shitty ports on the PC too. Like, Saints Row 2; the developers working on the pc port bailed about halfway through. They still released it in that state. I just thought I sucked at the game until I read about a normal guy who wrote some code to get the game working for the pc. He turned down the internal timers on the game so it ran more smoothly. He became the official modder for Saints Row 2 and 3, so it was pretty cool.

        Liked by 1 person

      • That is really cool. Well it sucks that they released Saints Row 2 in a really crappy condition for PC, but it’s cool that a regular gamer fixed it and then got a job working on Saints Row for real.

        I played Saints Row 3, that was a pretty awesome game. Saints Row 3 was one of the free games for Xbox Live/Gold subscribers one month. I was surprised how fun it was!

        -john

        Like

      • Yeah. I was a hardcore gta fan and hated saints row because it was such a rip off. Then gta 5 screwed me and I played saints row 3 and had an absolute blast. It is a really good game. The side mission where you get hit by cars for the insurance money was the best.

        Liked by 1 person

      • LOL I forgot about that, yeah that insurance money side mission was great! So was the one where you have to destroy X amount of dollars’ worth of property.

        There were a lot of cool inventive aspects to that game that made it better than one of the other GTA ripoff games.

        Did you ever play Sleeping Dogs? It was made by Square Enix (at least on Xbox it was). That was another awesome free game that kind of improved on the GTA idea.

        The fighting was like martial arts fighting, you could easily counter opponents moves and throw them on the ground or throw them on something in the environment to hurt them – like ram their heads through windows, or dump them into dumpsters lol.

        Yeah that was another unexpectedly awesome game.

        -john

        Like

      • Lol. I tried sleeping dogs. The thing was that I was so used to driving on the right for American based games, that I couldn’t handle driving on the left, even though that is the side we drive on in England.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I had the exact same problem, haha!

        Square Enix seems to make pretty good games. I think they’re the new reincarnation of Squaresoft, and they made awesome games for sure.

        You ever get into the Final Fantasy games? VII was my favorite, I like the turn-based fighting that they did away with eventually.

        -john

        Like

      • Did I get into Final Fantasy? Does the pope shit on bears in the wood? Little known fact, but yes, he does. FF7 is in my top 3 games of all time. The Ruby and Green weapons were the best challenge of all time. They are so stupidly hard to beat, but when you did grind their metal hides into the dirt, it felt so good. Vincent was the coolest. Cloud is a legend. I stopped playing when they stopped the turn based fighting system in FF11 (I think). The Advent Children film was great too.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I was wondering that about the Pope, people are always asking whether he’s doing things in the woods. I never knew what to say, but now I know that he does do these things!

        Do you still have FF7? I ended up selling it to a used video game store a while ago. I guess that game is pretty expensive to buy nowadays!

        I’m glad I’m not the only one who liked the turn based fighting. Why did they stop using it, it was so great??

        -john

        Like

  1. I like how you related depression to Max Payne. I love those games!

    I love how ridiculously dark and dingy Max Payne games are. It always makes your own life seem so much better in comparison.

    -john

    Like

    • Ah the first two games were noir at its best. I know a lot people did not dig the third game, but I loved it. They had to something different to keep the franchise fresh, and I thought they did it superbly. Easily in my top ten games of all time. And in the end, Max totally sorted his shit out. So, there is hope for everyone I think.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah I was ready for the change with Max Payne 3!

        It was cool when you played as Max back in the east coast again, but if the whole game was like that it probably would have gotten old. That game is really long it seems like. I don’t think I ever even finished Max Payne 3 all the way. Last section I remember he was dropped off without any guns, wearing a Hawaiian shirt and stumbling around South America.

        -john

        Like

      • Oh yeah, the game is huge. 36gb. You are talking about when he goes to the Favelas to try and rescue the hostages. As you can imagine, it does not go well. Man, I think that is about halfway through the game. The ending was epic. If you have some spare time, have another go. The end set piece battle is insanely good fun.

        Liked by 1 person

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