Mad Max Review | MOUSE n JOYPAD

Mad Max Review




When I first came into contact with the Mad Max movies, I was about seven years old. Mad Max 2 was my entry point into this universe, and I was thoroughly unimpressed by its pacing, themes and characters. Nothing about this setting intrigued me, and since I was unable to understand the deeper, sublime meanings hidden behind the comparatively thin plot there was little for me to catch onto. As time went by, I watched snippets of the other movies as they appeared on the television, but it wasn’t until a couple of years back that I finally found my footing with this series. With the first movie being the exception, others don’t really deal with Max himself, rather showing us the world he trawls across. Never does Rockatansky appear as the focal point of the story, simply driving it forward instead so that we viewers witness what’s going on, on our own terms. It’s a genius approach to film-making, and one that should be much more celebrated than it currently is.


Bringin’ on the pain!

It’s rather surprising, then, that we see a Mad Max game just now, with 2016 looming ominously before us. The release of the phenomenal Fury Road helped set things in motion, for sure, but the game is and should be separated from all movies in terms of virtually everything, but hype. Avalanche studios have been successful in that regard, and have crafted an impressive experience that’s true to what Mad Max is about, in essence.

There are two quintessential pillars to the gameplay of Mad Max – vehicular combat and, well, pedestrian combat. Max Rockatansky is good at killing people dead in all manners, really, but the most fulfilling, visceral and amazingly tactile way is via heavily armored vehicles. Fighting raiders while behind the wheel of Magnum Opus is unique in more than one way. Firstly, there’s the setting – the vast, impenetrable and staggeringly beautiful deserts of the dystopic, ravaged Australia, with a severe lack of joeys to lighten the mood with their innate cuteness. This wide, open terrain allows you to manoeuvre like never before, without any civilians or buildings to look out for. There’s only Max, the amazingly interesting Chumbucket and the Magnum Opus against the hordes of drugged-out twits out for blood. So ram them. Run them over. Blow up their ugly cars and grapple the drivers out for a bloody face-to-face with the sharp, glassy sands. It’s fun. While you’re out-and-about, exploring the few interesting structures you do come across, things become a tad more cumbersome. For close-quarters-combat, Mad Max incorporates a combat system that’s very much like that of the Arkham series, or better yet – Shadow of Mordor. The thing is, melee combat tends to be a bit too twitchy and lacks the level of polish present in the aforementioned titles. It also doesn’t really evolve through the game, relatively quickly turning into a chore rather than something that adds actual value to the game. The exploration is interesting due to the game’s dieselpunk-ish nature, as well as due to the visual fidelity present here. I’ve mentioned the impressive desert already, but it really shines only when you pair it up with the astonishingly well-realised storms and beautiful skyboxes. The downside is that this too becomes monotonous after a while, when you start seeing the same gas station for three times in a row while driving towards the objective. The unique locations are great though, so there’s that. My only real gripe with the game’s graphics engine is the amount of pop-in that becomes apparent while driving through the desert at extreme speeds. The rest can easily wow you, especially when you see just how well-optimised Mad Max actually is. Regardless, we’re not forgetting what happened with Arkham Knight, Warner.


I stop for nothing.

Back to the matter at hand, there’s actually little to do in Mad Max aside from driving and fighting. That makes me think of it as less of a sandbox (pun intended) experience and more of an action-adventure style game that just happens to be set in a wide, open area. Kind of like Mafia 2, really.

As you make your way across the gleaming desert, you’ll be collecting scraps of metal and Legend, which are your primary “currencies” in Mad Max. Using scrap is quite a straightforward feat; for interesting vehicle upgrades. Legend, on the other hand, can be invested in various active and passive skills and abilities for Max to use on his travels. There’s not an awful lot to invest in, and don’t expect it to be as dense and thought-through as average RPGs are, but it’s a nice incentive to keep collecting loot. While the abilities at Max’s disposal may not be all that interesting, the improvements for Magnum Opus are a blast to unlock. Need something to punch through other vehicles’ tires on the go? Install sharp metal on your wheels to act as impromptu blades. Wanna get rid of the pesky jumpers that get on your ride every once in a while? Spikes are bound to help. It’s a nice selection that keeps the driving part a constantly improving experience, whereas melee combat simply isn’t that interesting.

For the most of the game, there’s very little exposition delivered, with the storyline instead being condensed into the final hours of the game. And honestly, it’s pretty damn good once you get there, but the problem lies in the repetitive and sometimes tedious quests Max has to deal with to reach that point. Granted, this only becomes a problem after about a dozen of game time hours, but it’s an issue nonetheless. As you burn down fuel deposits, take out armament emplacements and harass the gangs across the vastness of the land, you’ll eventually see just how much the tasks repeat themselves. As fun as all of that might be at first, the novelty soon wanes and you’re left with something that shouldn’t keep repeating itself as often as it does in Mad Max.

In the end, the only real issue Mad Max has lies in the way quests are handled. There’s an exciting variety to be found in the amount of ways one can tackle the problems Max finds himself in for the duration of this game, and even though melee isn’t nearly as exciting as vehicular combat is, it can stand on its own two legs when necessary. Mad Max is a beautiful, sometimes enthralling game that well deserves a good grade. As long as you can handle a certain amount of repetitive content, there’s no reason not to invest in it, and if you’re an eager fan of Mad Max, add five more percent to the final score. Good work, Avalanche.