The Mad Max franchise has been around for a long time. Even longer then I myself have walked on earth. If you’re around my age, chances are high you might not have even heard of Mad Max before. The Mad Max franchise was recently re-invigorated with the release of this year’s box office hit Fury Road and this month’s Mad Max videogame. Now, you might be wondering if this game is as good as the movie, since the movie received critical acclaim? Let me tell you all about it.
Mad Max is one of the first games in a long list of AAA-releases that is about to descend on us. Mad Max already managed to impress me at gamescom, where I had the honor to see some gameplay of the game in a behind-closed-doors session. Unfortunately, I was not allowed to play there. But now I have at the comfort of my home. It might be important to add that I already liked the Mad Max franchise even before the game’s release. Notwithstanding, if you’re into post-apocalyptic games (like Fallout), this game was made for you too.
This is not Fury Road: The Game.
Let me get something straight out of the way: The Mad Max videogame is not based on Fury Road. Nor does it star Tom Hardy as Max Rockatansky or Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa. In fact, the game has very little in common with the movie at all. Apart from some lore tie-ins. While the game does seem to take place in the same “universe” as Fury Road, it succeeds in telling a unique and compelling story of its own.
Max, a loner, on the run from himself and the past. His confused mind has constructed a mythical place which he refers to as the “Plains of Silence”. There he is convinced to find peace. To reach this place Max depends on his old car, the Interceptor or “Black on Black”. Trough unfortunate events however, the car is stolen from him and reduced to scrap. To make things more complicated, Max pissed off a Warlord in the process, who is now out to kill Max. Max must build himself a new car, better and faster than the Black on Black. Early in the adventure he crosses paths with Chumbucket, a bizarre wasteland mechanic who believes Max to be his “warrior saint” sent to him to complete the ultimate vehicle called the “Magnum Opus”. Max, in dire need of a new car, couldn’t be luckier. But danger is lurking in the shadows.
While Max never seems to fully trust Chumbucket, the two form an inseparable bond over the course of the story. As a player, I considered him my buddy and with his funny way of speaking he’s never a drag to have around. That you can consider to be a good thing, since he’ll accompany you whenever you decide to take your car out for a spin. Mad Max offers vehicular combat: The player is able to shoot objects and enemies as Chumbucket while driving the Magnum Opus as Max. Driving and shooting at the same time is often a horrible combination (Far Cry 4 anyone?) but it works actually really decent in Mad Max trough auto aim. Chumbucket will also warn the player about imminent danger or treasures hidden in the wasteland and when idle or away from the car, he’ll automatically start repairing it.
The greatest survival vehicle ever built.
Max might be the main protagonist of the game, but it’s actually the Magnum Opus that steals the show. The game has but one goal: go out into the wasteland and get scrap to upgrade your car. How get the scrap you need is entirely up to you. Customization options for the Magnum Opus are endless and each upgrade requires a specific task to be completed for it to unlock. Many reviewers have stated that the game’s objectives becomes very repetitive (which is somewhat true), but to me it never became boring because I always had the feeling that completing said objectives would help me reach new areas or become stronger. You’ll quickly become obsessed with upgrading the car the same way Max is in the game.
All voice actors in the game are Australian and the soundtrack is very dreamy and dark. It really helps with getting into that Mad Max vibe the movies are famous for. The wasteland in which the game takes place is a vast, open and dangerous space. It’s divided in a few territories and each territory has its own unique feel. This way the developers made sure that even a desert can be an interesting and diverse place. There were more than enough times when I just stopped playing for a minute and enjoyed the incredible vistas and color palettes this game will shove in your face. For example: Gastown, the grotesque oil refinery and main to reach destination, is always looming in the background. Reminding you of the bloodshed that is to come. Max also reminiscences on the past or certain events in the world from time to time which really adds some sort of history to the places you visit. Almost like each place has a own story to tell.
Not only will you’ll be able to upgrade the Magnum Opus, you can also upgrade but Max himself. For example, Max starts the game in a dirty white shirt but you’ll soon unlock Max’s iconic black leather outfit. If you keep progressing, Max will start to look like a modern armored soldier, ammo belts included. This makes him look different than the Max you know and love, which is kind of a bummer. You could always unequipped said armor though but you’ll lose the stats that come with it.
Mad Max: The Arkham Wasteland.
Mad Max’s combat elements are shamelessly ripped off from the Batman Arkham series. And although a decent system, it’s a pity the developers didn’t try to improve it or expand on it. The thing that bugged me is that Max easily punches and parries trough every fight and that there’s no option for the player to increase the difficulty. This might be because I spent a good time farming scrap and managed to max out Max’s combat abilities relatively early in the game. Still, an option to increase the difficulty level would be a welcome addition in a future update. You could increase the difficulty by un-equipping upgrades, but that makes no sense. Come to think of it, apart from the rich ambience some other games lack, Mad Max doesn’t really stand out at something. It doesn’t bring anything new to the table, really.
The game has no multiplayer but it doesn’t need to. This game is huge. If you’re out to complete the single player you’ll be easily entertained for 40 hours or so. Mad Max also features a comprehensive photo mode / video record mode which makes smart use of the console’s own capture functions. The screenshots included in this article were all made by me. In closing, I had a great time with this game and I’m sure you will too.