For those of you that have never heard my voice, you won’t have noticed that my accent gives away the fact that I am an Aussie. That being said I wouldn’t be a true Aussie if I didn’t have a soft spot for Mad Max. The Road Warrior is as quintessentially Australian as a meat pie so naturally I’m all over it. To say that I was excited that a Mad Max game was coming to the PS4 & Xbox One would be an understatement. When I got home and had a copy of Mad Max waiting for me I unwrapped that package with a level of fury that would have made Max happy. I stuck that disc in my PS4 and got straight down to business. The inevitable question is did Mad Max live up to my level of excitement? The answer is a yes and no.
For those young enough to know Mel Gibson only as a raving lunatic who sprouts drunken obscenities; your first taste of Mad Max will have come from the new Mad Max movie, Mad Max: Fury Road. Fury Road is a movie with an insane pace. From the opening scene through to the curtain closing, Fury Road was an insanely paced action adventure. When it comes to Mad Max the game, the pace is completely different. The game opens with a car chase that is frantic then transitions into a massive open world adventure game. Having such an expansive open world is by no means an issue, it just feels a teeny tiny bit out of place in a Mad Max, where we are used to things happening at a million miles an hour.
Mad Max is a pretty simple sort of fella, he loves cars, preferably cars that are really fast and made into a death machine to take on the scum of the post-apocalyptic wasteland. Max’s love of cars is basically the primary objective of the game. After being left for dead and having his beloved car destroyed, Max befriends an old hunchback by the name of Chumbucket. Chum has possibly the worst looking vehicle Max has ever laid eyes on but he sees some potential in the aptly named Magnum Opus and sets out on finding the essentials so that the car can live up to its nickname. There is also more than just a wee bit of revenge that Max has to dish out too but he’s a car man and going about exacting revenge in anything less than a true Magnum Opus would be an insult to this ultimate petrol headed yobbo (and I mean that in the nicest possible way).
The desert plains of this Dystopian world are beautifully vast. The sheer size and vastness are both a blessing and curse. A blessing in that they look absolutely outstanding thanks to a visual presentation that is right up there as one of the best on console; a curse because all too often, there isn’t a lot going on out there as Max crosses the desert in search of his next target. In fact Max will even point this out on occasion as he makes reference to the “plains of silence” as he is hooning along. If there is one aspect I would really have loved to have seen improved, it’s those trips across the desert. Just a bit more enemy engagement and road battles would have really livened this up and helped to maintain a more Mad Max like pace.
As Max goes about his business, the legacy of the films shines through. The War Boys are the antagonists, with the son of the great Immortan Joe, the primary foe. Even Gastown is a central location in this adventure. Scrap is the currency of choice, after all once the apocalypse has been and gone, what use is money when your vehicle is the only thing that can realistically keep you alive.
Everywhere Max goes there is scrap to be collected. The hunt for scrap is a real focal point of the game and often the reason why Max will attempt to infiltrate a tower or fortress and fight some pretty gruesome battles. Scrap will not only be used to buy upgrades to the Magnum Opus, but can also be used to build combat skills and buy additional weaponry. Max will use balloons (the game’s version of Towers) to scout locations and get the drop on his enemies. When it comes to taking down enemies strongholds and camps, the theme is much the same throughout; take down the perimeter with the vehicle and then enter by foot to finish things off the old fashioned way, hand to hand!
This is a Warner Bros game so anyone who has played a Batman game will be familiar which with the combat mechanics. Chaining together combos is easy and countering is just one well timed button press away. Building up your skill tree will also add to the special moves that Max can use to rebuff an enemy baying for blood. When it comes to car chases and battles, they are a real highlight but take some getting used too. Because the triggers are being used to accelerate and brake it means they can’t also be used to aim and shoot. It makes for an interesting in car control layout, one that took me a long time to get used to. It feels a little confused but at the same time I can see why the controls had to be laid out that way so I don’t want to be too harsh on them since I can’t think of a better way to overcome the driving/combat at the same time system.
When it comes to the overall gameplay, Mad Max takes it’s inspiration from other Warner Bros Games. The mission layout, side quests, etc all have a Shadow of Mordor feel to them and the combat system has a real Batman flavour to it. Fans of either game will feel right at home here however driving the Magnum Opus across the wide expanse that is the desert just isn’t as exciting as it was to get across Mordor.
When it comes to the visual presentation, Mad Max is a lot like the rest of the game. Brilliant at times and found wanting at others. Character modelling isn’t the best on console but still slightly above average, the vehicles modelling is in complete contrast to the character modelling. The Magnum Opus and vehicles in general look absolutely fantastic, details like the rust and dents look spot on. The dust effects are excellent, I really like it when studios pay attention to the little things like dust flying out at the screen from the wheels of a vehicle. The environments and desert as a whole are beautiful and give a real sense of vastness. Where the presentation is let down a bit is in the framerate which has a tendency to stutter along at times.
At the end of the day Mad Max is a good game. It isn’t bad nor is it fantastic. Looking for scrap and taking down strongholds does have a feeling of repitition about it but the combat mechanics and battles go some way in making up for that by creating fights that are frantic and full of energy. The energy that comes out of a battle however is quickly depleted when it gets back to the grind of crossing the desert. There is still plenty of fun to be had when playing Mad Max, however I can’t help but escape the feeling that the game probably could have benefited from being on rails in order to maintain the pace that is synonymous with the Mad Max legacy.
- Environment and Vehicle Modelling is Excellent
- Tight Hand to Hand Combat
- Mad Max Doesn't Suit Open World
- Gameplay can get Repetitive