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Mad Max Review – An Acquired Taste
Mad Max is an open world, 3rd person action adventure game with focus on scavenging and vehicular combat.
Set in the post-apocalyptic world of the movie franchise, Mad Max stays true to its license by expertly capturing the tone of the films without bogging down in any narrative continuity.
The game features a standalone story that does not require any prior knowledge of the movies from the players, but also rewards the fans of the franchise with its winks and references.
Players take control of the series protagonist “Mad” Max Rockatansky as he scavenges the ruined canyons, caves and deserts of the post-apocalyptic wasteland to search for his prized Interceptor and survive the wrath of the resident warlords.
Assisting Max on his quest is the hunchbacked mechanic named Chumbucket who helps him use scavenged materials to upgrade his car and build the ultimate vehicle; Magnum Opus.
Max has to use his wheels to explore the wasteland for opportunities, which he can identify by using hot air balloons to ascend and view surroundings to reveal regions on the map which is similar to mechanic used by Assassins Creed and Far Cry games.
Though to the game’s credit, the mechanic is less automatic as players have to identify each location with their binoculars to mark them on the map.
Vehicular combat is a staple of the Mad Max movies and the game has it in spades.
Not only is contact based vehicular combat presented as the main gameplay feature of Mad Max, but it also features surprising amount of depth to it due to the variety in enemy vehicles as well as the upgrade options available for Max’s own muscle car.
This trilling fun of post-apocalyptic vehicular combat is offset by the game’s on foot segments.
Since everything in Max’s world is scarce, players are forced to scour the land for everything from upgrade scraps and fuel to ammunition and health. Each time Max spots these items; he has to get out of his car to collect them on foot, which can seem clumsy and cumbersome when compared to the fast and tight car controls.
There is also no regenerating health and life can only be regenerated by consuming water and food, which makes Max doubly vulnerable when he faces combat on foot.
The hand to hand combat is the same mechanic followed by several licensed WB games that revolve around punching and parrying, however the system is less robust than the one used in games like the Arkham series and Shadow of Mordor.
At its core Mad Max follows a gameplay loop of exploring the wasteland in Max’s car too select a mission, participating in car battles, reaching location, engaging in fisticuffs, scavenging on foot to gain scraps, upgrade then moving to the next mission.
The gameplay is repetitive but as long as one enjoys the gameplay, there is incentive to experience it due to changes brought forth from upgrading Max’s character skills, adding new car parts and fortifying strongholds.
Mad Max is powered by the Avalanche Engine and takes visual cues from the latest movie; Fury Road, in depicting the open wasteland with a mix of beauty and ugliness. The game uses contrasting visual elements to create a world that is simultaneously dead and desolate and yet alive with vibrant colours.
While the vast map of Mad Max features nothing but desert and wasteland, it never gets visually monotonous as Avalanche studios not only delivers visual variety in depictions of barren earth but masterfully contrasts it with serene sky box and haunting desert storms.
However occasional framerate issues and texture pop-ins mar this visual experience of exploring the game’s enormous desert world.
Another issue with the game world is the fact that it is deceptively un-interactive. Max is limited in how he interacts with the world around him as he is only able to shimmy or climb arbitrarily defined objects marked in bright yellow.
While the game lacks polish in animation department it does try to add depth by including little details like how Max favors his leg after a drop.
Similarly the game also falls short of greatness in its audial presentation.
While Mad Max is top notch in its portraying sound effects of loud explosions, explosiveness of shot gun blasts and the power of engines’ roar, it lacks the same gravitas when it comes to voice acting.
While not abysmal in any sense, the dialogue and delivery lacks the polish that is afforded to other aspects of the game’s sound design.
In spite of all its flaws, Mad Max’s visual and audial presentation is its strongest suit. While it touches the boarders of mediocrity in its low points, its highest highs have the potential to take the breath away from its players.
Additionally the game is not short on content. Mad Max’s open world is filled with things like taking over bandit camps, hunting convoys, racing, taking down scarecrows and sniper towers, clearing minefields and scavenging countless places for myriad of collectables.
Mad Max is one of the few modern games that make good use of its license, however it lacks polish in several areas and is not a game that everyone can enjoy.
The repetitive nature of its gameplay loop makes it so that those who enjoy game’s combat mechanics would find hours of fun in its offering while others might find the game tedious and tiresome.