Avalanche Studios and Warner Bros.’ Mad Max game finally saw its release last week, and so far the general consensus seems to be that it’s rather mediocre (it currently has a 70/100 on Metacritic). I’ve played just over two hours of Mad Max and have had an enjoyable time with it so far.
The game takes place in a gritty wasteland atmosphere filled with fire, dirt and grungy cars driven by post-apocalyptic mad men, but otherwise has little to do with the Fury Road movie. That said, the game does have enough personality of its own to make it enjoyable whether or not you’ve seen the films.
Mad Max features plenty of open world activities to keep you occupied outside (or even during) the story missions. Invading strongholds is a blast, as you either ram down the base’s defenses or attempt to sneak in unnoticed in order to complete an objective. Most strongholds seem to feature an open area near the middle which acts as a fighting arena of sorts, complete with a war crier banging a drum in order to rally the fighters.
I’ve found myself detouring several times during missions in order to tear down scarecrows (towers of bloody bodies and fire that increase enemies’ influence in an area), take out compounds or to just chase down enemies in order to scrap their cars.
The combat is solid, but nothing new to anyone who has played a Batman game or Shadow of Mordor. Despite being recycled, it still feels awesome to pull off counters and explosive combos, especially when fueled by Max’s fury.
Car combat is also enjoyable, although so far I feel a little underpowered. It’s often best to try to harpoon the enemy out of their car instead of trying to engage in vehicular combat. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing as it’s incredibly satisfying to watch the enemy fly out of their car and into the wasteland.
The characters of the world are unique, but not exactly on par with those of the films. Chumbucket feels too much like Gollum to me, though he plays a vital role by constantly repairing Max’s ride, the Magnum Opus. This mechanic ensures you’re never left with an inoperable vehicle which is convenient, and adds an important reason for Max to carry Chum around wherever he goes.
The story so far isn’t anything special, but the world itself is the enjoyable part. There’s some sort of drive to constantly complete activities and collect scrap to improve Max’s abilities and that of the Magnum Opus.
Unfortunately, Mad Max ended up releasing the same day as the highly anticipated Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. The game has been largely overshadowed by MGSV, and that’s a shame. Had it released a few weeks earlier I’m sure many more people would be playing it. In fact, I’d like to play it more, but even I find myself wanting to return to Metal Gear, before I get left behind.
If Metal Gear isn’t up your alley, I definitely recommend Mad Max, especially if you’re into the Batman / Shadow of Mordor open world formula. There’s plenty to enjoy!