Media Stereotyping: Hoboken feels the Payne

Max Payne 3 is the latest shooter in a trilogy released over the last decade, and one video game nerds (read: me) have been looking forward to for the last year plus. In fact, across PS3 and Xbox360, it has sold almost 900,000 units worldwide in its first week.

Hoboken, NJ slapped in the face by Rockstar

The narrative follows a NYPD detective in a downward spiral that worsens with every installment of the series. At the beginning of this game, you realize Max’s life has gotten so terrible he’s moved across the water to… Hoboken, New Jersey.

Because nothing shows your protagonist has truly hit the bottom of the Whiskey barrel than moving to downtown Hoboken.

Except the Hoboken presented in Max Payne 3 doesn’t look like Hoboken. The story is set in the present day, but game developer Rockstar’s depiction of the town looks like a cross between Post-WWII Soviet Union and Hoboken circa On The Waterfront.

When making the first Max Payne, Finnish developing company Remedy Entertainment, wanted to get a real sense of what the underbelly of NYC was like. They hired retired NYPD officers to drive them around the seedier areas of the city to capture its true look and feel.

For Max Payne 3, I’m assuming a group of Rockstar art directors played the game, “how crappy can we make New Jersey look and still have North Dakotans believe it’s real?” This game is popular among MTV executives, Bravo writers and Chris Christie.

While the game takes place mostly in the decrepit areas of Sao Paulo, Brazil (but that’s a post for SaoPaulo411.com), there is a flashback level to Hoboken. Max finds himself drinking at the fictional dive, “Walton’s Bar,” before getting into a shootout with the son of a local drug lord and his friends – all of whom look to be offspring of Pauly D.

Look, Rockstar, you can have the Guido stereotype or the thug stereotype, but you can’t mix them! Yes, New Jersey has bad areas – Newark, Irvington, East Orange – but the Jersey Shore cast does not inhabit these areas; no one gets shot by anyone with a blowout.

To add to the ludicrously, at one point in the level a low flying plane passes overhead and Max echoes this warning: “Headed to Newark International. Get on the Pulaski, buddy, and don’t look down.”

Look down on what?! Hoboken isn’t even under the Pulaski Skyway!

All in all, this was another stereotypical slap in the face to New Jersey, and this one was so blatantly WRONG, in every sense of the word.

Here’s to hoping a Max Payne 4 is made, when Max is truly in the depths of hell, having re-located to Mount Olive.

(Article contributed by Hoboken411 reader and resident Matt Flachsenhaar. Thanks!)

Oh, and here’s a gameplay video you can watch (explicit):

Hoboken NJ

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