I sat alone in a darkened room, the light of the monitor illuminating my face like a small personal moon, the steam from my coffee the only movement visible as I hunched over the screen like a pensive statue. I frowned in consternation at the words on the screen in front of me, the furrows in my brow as if a farmer had ploughed them in preparation for a bountiful harvest. But the only harvest these furrows would see was the sweat from my face, as hot as the Amazon as it was in that tiny, dark, cell-like room.
I pictured Houser laughing as he spoke those words to me. I heard them again and again and again, reverberating through my brain as if they had been spoken in a forgotten cave, known only to the bats.
"Max Payne 3 gave us an amazing creative opportunity to evolve one of our most iconic characters," he had said. "We're excited to show fans a modern version of Max that pulls them back into his dark and twisted story."
As dark and twisted as the spiralling crema atop my coffee, gently spinning where I had idly stirred it, I thought, my imagination and attention wandering as I scrolled through the text on the page.
My eyes flitted from the screen to the calendar open on my phone. March 2012, was it? It seemed so near, and yet so far, like a lover falling from a cliff, just out of reach, her hand outstretched, her eyes begging you to grab her but you're too late -- she's gone, falling, falling, falling into the darkness.
I shook away the unwelcome thoughts. These would not help me compose a news story concerning Rockstar's plans to release the long-awaited third game in the Max Payne franchise, a series so drowning in tortured metaphors that it was a wonder it didn't come with some sort of CPR equipment.
My fingers flitted across the keys. "MAX PAYNE 3 OUT IN MARCH 2012," I typed, the clattering of the keys shattering the silence in the darkened room like a brick through the greenhouse of eternity.
Then I froze, like a deer trapped in the headlights of an oncoming eighteen-wheeler. There was something more to this -- something unexpected. I glanced from the tantalizing words on the screen to my phone and tried to picture Max's face on the small screen; tried to imagine his balletic slow-motion diving, bullets flying through the air like single-minded insects with only death and destruction driving them forward towards their terminal and bloody destinations. And I wasn't sure I could do it.
But it was right there in black and white -- "Max Payne will receive the full HD treatment for mobile devices," the text had said, taunting me with its non-specificness of which mobile devices it would support. "Available for the first time on mobile, Max Payne will have connectivity to the Rockstar Games Social Club and boast the same features as its PC counterparts -- including HD graphics and high resolution textures that take advantage of the latest mobile technologies, including incredibly customizable controls and support for wired controllers."
I wept, then. I wasn't sure if they were tears of joy, or tears of sadness at the prospect of negotiating those nightmarish "blood trail" levels again. All I knew was that Max was going back to the start all over again, just as his adventures looked set to be coming to a close in March of 2012. An eternal struggle, a fight for his very existence.