A truly open world Mad Max game has been talked about for ages. Finally, after all the talking, Avalanche Studios have gone ahead and created the Mad Max game fans have wanted. However, is it what we’ve all been waiting for? Let’s find out.
Mad Max follows the titular character Max Rockatansky as he journeys to the Plains of Silence. However, Max is attacked by a group of War Boys led by Scabrous Scrotus. The group strips of Max of most of his clothing, his suppliers and worst of all, his prized car, the Interceptor. Left for dead, Max sets off to gather supplies and find his vehicle. While traversing the wasteland he meets a hunchback by the name of Chumbucket, an incredibly gifted mechanic set on building the perfect vehicle, which he names the Magnum Opus. The two reluctantly decide to work together after Chumbucket gives Max hope of taking revenge on Scrotus. The two then set off together in the Magnum Opus in search of water, food, fuel and upgrades.
The story starts off rather nicely and is enough to keep players interested in progressing. This tends to disappear for most of the game, however, and picks up toward the end. Despite coming in rather late, the storytelling does quite well at the end. It’s just a little unfortunate that it wasn’t consistent throughout the game.
The characters are also quite diverse and each has their own quirks. This coupled with the wasteland and lore from the Mad Max universe makes it quite an experience.
In terms of gameplay, Mad Max shines most of the time. Its progression system is incredibly addictive as it sees you completing challenges in order to earn tokens, which can then be traded with Griffa to upgrade Max’s base attributes. It sounds like one giant chore but you never actually realise that you’re actively taking on challenges. Completion notifications pop up as you engage in various activities around the wasteland. Completing challenges and activities also raises Max’s rank, which in turn unlocks more upgrades for purchasing.
Scrap functions as the game’s currency and can be used for purchasing upgrades for both Max and the Magnum Opus. Scrap can be found almost anywhere throughout the wasteland. Camps are a good source for this and so is destroying enemy vehicles. Mad Max always feels as if you’re earning something more that improves your experience. It works well at keeping the player interested and is extremely rewarding.
Hand-to-hand combat is somewhat similar to the Freeflow Combat System from the Batman Arkham Series but is only significantly more brutal. Light attacks, heavy attacks, timed counters and brutal executions make for a thoroughly enjoyable experience. Throughout scraps, Max will enter a bloodlust type state called Fury Mode in which his attacks do so much more damage and also open up a slur of devastating attacks, making your jaw drop as you pull them off. The only real problem I have with the on foot mechanics was that the controls featured a jump button that doesn’t really aid the player in anyway. It’s an awkward jump at best that doesn’t really accomplish much in terms of traversal.
Vehicular combat is very Mad Max-esque and devilishly satisfying. The Magnum Opus starts off being rather basic in terms of offense and defense but as players progress, it becomes a vessel of destruction. The amount of ways to destroy enemy vehicles is abundant. Side swiping, shooting exposed fuel drums and taking cars apart using your harpoon is only a small taste of possible attacks. Learning and mastering these attacks are essential to Max’s survival as patrols are never too far away.
There’s so much to do throughout the wasteland and should keep players busy from start to finish. Aside from the story, players can decrease the influence of Warlords by pulling down sniper towers, destroying camps, killing Top Dogs and destroying Scarecrows. Additionally, there are Death Races to take part in and minefields to clear. While activities can be found at almost every turn, they do tend to become a bit repetitive due it featuring no real variance throughout the game.
Mad Max is visually appealing almost all the way through. Character models and animations have been done well and the wasteland is a desolate landscape but is yet so captivating to look at. However, while it does look rather pretty, Mad Max suffers from dips to the frame here and there and also some pop in textures.
The game’s audio is very much on par with its visuals. The voice acting is decently done and seems fitting that Max is voiced by an Australian voice actor. The Magnum Opus also sounds incredible. Its powerful engine roars to life when accelerating and its tyres crunch over gravel roads when hitting the brakes.
Mad Max is an enjoyable game. It has all the ingredients to create a recipe for a Mad Max game but unfortunately falls short in some places. Its setting, characters and story fit really well with the universe and just feels right. The storytelling, however, is somewhat inconsistent and only really only succeeds towards the very end.
Gameplay wise, it is a cocktail of brutal combat mixed with a decent progression system. It’s a blast to pick up and play but can take some time to master, especially when dealing with some of the larger crowds. Visually, the game is fun to look at when the framerate isn’t dipping and textures aren’t popping in. The audio department also excels at hitting all the right notes from the voice acting to the sound effects. While it may be a bit of flawed experience, Mad Max is still enjoyable and terribly addictive.
Lasting appeal: 8/10