How excited have I been for Mad Max? Majorly excited. Since watching the newest movie and seeing the vehicles bounding around, the opportunity to launch across a post-apocalyptic Australia in a custom ride is not something to miss.
Truth is this game is a beauty honouring the Mad Max franchise with a few blackhead showing. The experience you get is a wonderful one yet mostly the game falls into a repetitive hell. But the repetition is sated by the well-optimised experience overall.
Plus the car driving is epic.
The story is a recycled story of loss-to-redemption. Max steals some fuel from the unluckily named ‘Scabrous Scrotus’ (son of Immortan Joe for all you who have seen the movie) and is chased down in the desert. After a battle involving the typical dog comrade introduction and a chainsaw through a skull Max is left in the desert with no car and a dog. You soon encounter the also unluckily named ‘Chumbucket,’ who believes that Max is a Saint of some kind. Thus Max goes on an adventure to improve his ride and, I kid you not, find a V8 engine.
This is pretty much the extent of the story at the beginning, minus some typical damsel-in-distress hell thrown in towards the end. Passing between the main story missions is done mostly with purchasing upgrades for your car. To purchase these upgrades you have to drop the regional threat level. Dropping the threat level is done much like every open world game ever. Scale towers, or hot air balloons in this game, then torch enemy strongholds until you lower the threat level. This is not really impeding to the gameplay as much as it may seem. The monetary mechanic is what draws out the gameplay. Scrap can be collected from bases and destroying enemies. The flaw is that the amount of scrap is a random mechanic, so expect to blow up a car and get one scrap. You’ll find that you quickly upgrade this option to improve the collection rate; defeating bases also allows scrap donations from allies which will become the bulk of your income.
This is Mad Max’s flaw, it seems to unnecessarily lengthen the game. So many of the mechanics feel drawn out and beaten longer to create fictional length to the game. Even the simplest interaction with objects, such as entering your car and picking up items requires a two second button press. Mechanics seem to be near direct rips from different games yet poorly implemented.
Take the on foot fighting for example. Considering Warner Bros. Interactive has produced both games its unsurprising Max fights like Batman. The fighting mechanic is simple. Punch away, counter, repeat until you win. Batarangs are replaced with a shotgun. Weapons are the best mechanic of the game. Ammo is sparse and the shotgun is more of a quick attack than a replacement to fighting so rely on picking up weapons from fallen enemies. Yet despite Batman’s phenomenal fighting mechanic Max fights a bit like a drunk student on fresher’s week. The main problem is that the camera doesn’t follow Max, so you tend to get mauled by off-screen enemies far too often. The counter action seems to be somewhat temperamental as well and you’ll often get tripped over by enemies.
What sells this game is the environment. The driving mechanic feels well balanced and driving around the wasteland of Australia is a surprisingly cathartic experience to bomb your ride around. Avalanche has taken a lot of time building the world, which is set in an old seabed and is littered with ships and containers. Bases such as lighthouses are littered around and old bridges span between what used to be the mouths of rivers. Driving is about two-thirds of the game and you will therefore be thankful that the world is not entirely bland and boring.
Yet despite the problems in the game there is something compelling me through the Mad Max darkness. The story while predictable and slow paced is full of dark turns; Max never makes any friends and the game descends into full psychological trauma of a story, complete with abuse, death and betrayal. The ending of the game is going to leave you hollow. You and darling Max have been dragged through hell and in the end literally nothing is different. You haven’t gained anything or lost anything, and that is literal. The game ends exactly as it begins. The beauty of the Mad Max franchise is shown in the story well. Max doesn’t make friends or compromise for anyone and will go through anything in his way. Apart from a strange damsel in distress angle which appears later on to produce a human angle. It’s always a challenge to see what Max is desperately clinging on to for his sanity. And in the situation of this game, the slower controls makes the game feel like a wasteland struggle. Yet this is more luck and does not give a free pass.
I also have to say that, the PC version of the game, is one of the most optimised PC ports I’ve seen. The game runs perfectly smooth. My PC comfortably hit 60fps consistently even in the set piece moments on high settings. There is a bug on the PC version however where the map will not load in the later game for some periods of time, and the importance of the map in the game means you will be struggling to carry on.
Mad Max is a very satisfying experience. A homage to the franchise. Sadly a few oversights and poor mechanics means the game takes a long run to get off the ground. Yet overall the game is most definitely a 4.0. Worth it.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.