Thursday, 17 September 2015

Mad Max

Although it isn't directly associated with Mad Max: Fury Road that released earlier this year, it sometimes resembles the heart-pounding action driving your Magnum Opus in the wasteland. On the other hand, it's an open-world game that follows an over-familiar structure that doesn't perfectly fit the change in how you play this type of game.

In Mad Max, developed by Avalanche Studios and out now for Xbox One and PlayStation 4, sees you drive the wasteland in order to create your perfect vehicle. Your previous car has been taken and dismantled by the Warlord Scabrous Scrotus, and your quest is one of revenge. You take on the wasteland to reduce his influence and end his tyranny. 

The open-world is surprisingly massive. You will spend prolonged periods of time just driving through the empty wasteland, and though in other games this would feel dull, in Mad Max it can be quite relaxing as most of the game is filled with explosions and action. In those moments, you can simply drive and take in the stunning vistas around you. Mad Max is a stunning looking game, even if there isn't a whole lot to look at. The draw distance can almost feel infinite, and anything you see can be accessed by driving. The day-night cycles create some beautiful moments as coming over a large hill can be met with a red moon on the horizon, or even a storm coming in the opposite direction.

When the storms come, you need to take shelter or face the consequences of what has gotten caught up in these storms. Storms are random and can vary in their threat, but they are always fun to encounter and even stay out in to try grab some muthaloot.  So much of Mad Max is about gathering scrap to upgrade both Max and his car, the Magnum Opus. The customisation, especially in regards to the vehicle, is staggering.  Every single part can be upgraded over half a dozen times and it will take you a couple dozen hours in order to fully upgrade both Max and your Magnum Opus. Most of the time, you will be in your vehicle, collecting scrap, clearing out camps, destroying fuel pumps, and everything you can in order to reduce Scrotus's influence in each area. It's fun to do the different activities but unfortunately, it never strays from those few things and after about 10-20 hours of doing the same thing ad nauseum.

The other downside is when you get out of the vehicle, you will be asked to take out enemies using hand to hand combat which has become standard since the Batman Arkham games. However, it doesn't feel nearly as fluid as those games. Animations cannot be cancelled in order to dodge or reverse an attack like you can in other games,  which leads to frustration. You never feel dangerous, even if attacks feel impactful until you fill Max's fury meter by building up his combo and defeating enemies. It's a little sluggish at first, and even if it becomes tolerable when Max's attacks are levelled up, it just never becomes fun like  it is in other games with the same combat.

The biggest surprise to Mad Max is just how much there is for you to stay in the wasteland but ultimately, it's too much of the same throughout making it eventually become mundane which is a shame because the vehicle portion of the game is so much fun. You can easily spend 35-40 hours creating your dream powerhouse and take over the wasteland, but the only challenge by then really is actually being able to repeat the same few activities for that long. They say doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is the definition of insanity and in this case, I think I know why the game is called Mad Max.

Despite some excellent moments, this warrior feels middle of the road with 3/5 stars.


Jason Redmond

Mad Max at CeX

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