Mad Max is Not So Fast or Furious

Mad Max is Not So Fast or Furious - News

by Jake Weston , posted on 20 June 2015 / 6,425 Views

I feel for Avalanche Studios. Their open-world take on Mad Max - initially revealed back in 2013 - had many excited, but the critical and commercial success of the recently-released film Mad Max: Fury Road has sent expectations into the stratosphere.

As a huge fan of Fury Road, and the Mad Max series as a whole, I admittedly carried those expectations in with me when I checked out Avalanche's Mad Max game. While Mad Max looks like it will continue Warner's recent streak of great license-based games, certain aspects of the demo gave some room for doubt.

Mad Max is an open-world game that, expectedly, has a heavy focus on vehicular combat. As I roamed the wasteland in Max’s new ride - the Magnum Opus - I stumbled upon a convoy of bandits, and as I approached they began to open fire. Max had a variety of weapons available to fend off the bandits: a trusty sawed-off shotgun for when they got too close, flamethrowers that shoot off the sides of the wheels, a homing rocket launcher, and a Just Cause-esque grappling hook that can rip off enemy vehicle parts such as wheels and rear chassis (often exposing fuel tanks that can then ignite the entire vehicle from one shotgun blast), and even pull drivers out of their seats.

It was interesting trying out each of these weapons, but none of it felt very “Mad Max”-y. Max is a survivor, and the thought of him taking the fight to his enemies and willingly spending valuable resources on rocket launchers and flamethrowers seems to go against the character (or my perception of the character, in any case). The most interesting parts of the vehicle combat were when I would try to ram enemy vehicles, and bandits would jump on top of my car at the last second, forcing me to improvise in how to get them off. This was the most “Mad Max”-y aspect of the demo, and also the most fun.

When Max’s car takes damage, players can choose to have Max’s sidekick, Chumbucket, repair the car for him. However, you must bring the Magnum Opus to a full stop in order for him to work. This is another creative decision I’m not sure about. One of the most thrilling aspects about the Mad Max films is watching characters scramble to make necessary repairs while the cars are moving at high speeds; the risk of painful, violent death being ever-present.

Not only does this creative decision seem out of line with the spirit of the series, but I'm also worried that it will slow down the flow vehicular combat. After stopping to let Chumbucket make some repairs, it took quite a bit of time to catch back up with the convoy.

I'm also trepidatious about hand-to-hand combat as well. Mad Max uses its own version of Batman: Arkham's tried and true free-flow combat, chaining combos together while also countering when enemies have button prompts appear over their heads. While this works beautifully when transposed into games such as Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, I'm not sure if it's appropriate for this series. Max can hold his own in a fight, sure, but he’s a brawler, not a martial artist.

With all of that said, there were aspects of the demo I liked quite a bit. Fuel is an expendable resource; simply the act of driving throughout the wasteland will deplete it, and using aforementioned flamethrowers will further consume valuable fuel, forcing Max to always be on the lookout for more. Another valuable resource is water - at the beginning of my demo I filled up my canteen from a puddle of water, and a representative from Warner Bros. told me that this resource would not replenish, and that most of the water sources in the game can only be used once. The longer you spend in the wasteland, the harder it is to survive. I’m all for that.

Avalanche Studios has appeared to absolutely nail the look and feel of the world. Max's character model is absolutely perfect, from his missing leather jacket sleeve and dust covered boots to his rusty ankle brace. The wasteland vistas are gorgeous and the world seems appropriately huge, putting similar WB open-world games Batman: Arkham Origins and Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor to shame with its apparent massiveness. If nothing else, I hope to spend many hours just soaking up the atmosphere while scrounging to survive when Mad Max launches September 1st of PS4, Xbox One and PC.

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bettergetdave (on 20 June 2015)

Bit of a stretch there Jake but yea I get it. I don't think this will impact the enjoyment for me at all though. Glad they made these choices.

beeje13 (on 21 June 2015)

Hmmm, I understand about it not being Mad Max-y. Maybe a survival game would have been better? Linear but keeping the huge open world... I'm not sure how that would be achieved.

Ganoncrotch (on 20 June 2015)

Bit of a shame this game is going to miss the major buzz time after the new movie is in the Cinema, really going to effect its sales I bet.

Champa2 (on 20 June 2015)

How about less you trying to be a reviewer and more you actually giving sales figures on a sales website?