Mad Max Review
Mad Max on Xbox One, PS4, and PC, came out at the worst possible time. Sure, the movie was fairly successful, but for a game based on a movie to come out right around Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain is retail suicide. And that is very, VERY unfortunate because Mad Max is definitely worth the price of entry, especially if you like variety in your games.
If you’ve seen commercials for the move Mad Max; Fury Road, you get a little bit of an idea what you will experience in the game. You quickly find yourself stranded in a wasteland without your car, little water, and absolutely no one to turn to. You will quickly find and befriend a harmless psychopath named Chumbucket, who becomes your resident mechanic and driving companion. The aim of this title is to collect scrap throughout the wasteland to improve your car, with the ultimate goal of taking down the various factions spread out all over the map and eventually, conquering Gas Town. You don’t really need to know more than that. It really is your typical. “save the world and save yourself” story line. It is not fantastic, but it works.
The characters are actually fairly well developed. Mad Max is a likable protagonist with a mildly interesting back story; Chumbucket on the other hand, is completely insane and crazy, but might be one of the more interesting secondary characters I’ve ever experienced in a game. He actually reminds me a lot of Seth from Red Dead Redemption, expect without the desire to eat human flesh. The likable and interesting characters only add to the overall appeal of Mad Max. Forgettable characters and lackluster dialouge can send a decent game south really quickly. Fortune, that problem is not present in Mad Max.
If I were to point out a big fault in Mad Max, it is that it tries to do so much, but is really successful at so little. To be honest, it all works, and I’ve spent over 40 hours roaming the wasteland in search of vehicles to destroy and scrap to collect. But what Mad Max really does lack is that one element that it does better than any other video game.
Mad Max has one overarching component – RPG elements for both Max and his car, the Magnum Opus – that overseas two separate game play sytles: on foot and in the car.
In the Car
The Magnum Opus really is a great rig to ride around in. Driving it through the desert, hitting jumps, and battling with other cars is some of the most fun you will have in Mad Max. If it weren’t for some awkward shooting and driving controls – which makes you push both the right trigger to accelerate and right bumper to shoot – this would be a fantastic element to the game. Unfortunately, the odd control layout the developers have chosen for this title really hampers the experience. The driving is great, and shooting from a vehicle – aiming at the person driving, the tires, or even the engine – is also, exceptionally well done. It is why you combine the two that problems began to rear their ugly heads.
The on foot portions of the game – generally revolving around collecting scrap from looting locations and defeating camps around the wasteland – are not as well done. The biggest issue is your lack of a jumping ability. To be fair, technically Max can jump. It is just the type of jump my two year old performs in my living room. I would say his jumping ability is so useless, the developers may just as well have mapped another action to that button press. The slow moving Max makes some of these camps take longer than they should, and some odd graphical glitches can make climbing up and down ladders a hassle. This part of the game just does not work as well as you really want it to.
While the exploration of the camps can be mind numbingly dull, the combat is excellent, borrowing heavily from the combat we have seen in the recently released Batman: Arkham Knight, but with way better finishes and environmental interactions. Mad Max has some of the best hand-to-hand combat I have ever experienced in a video game. Early on, I was shocked by the lack of ammo lying around for my shotgun, but now I see why. There really is no reason to ever pull out your shotgun unless you are driving. When you are on the ground, its all about the melee combat. There is nothing more satisfying in Mad Max then when you use the environment around you to swiftly take out a group of wasteland goons.
There is a lot to love about Mad Max. For the most part, everything you do within the game really is lots of fun. A few issues crop up when you get on foot, but those are manageable. The 10-20 minutes you spend on foot cleaning out basis is the price you will pay to collect lots of scrap and upgrade your vehicle. When that is done, the real wasteland fun begins!