Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Reviewed on: PS4
Distributor: Ster Kinekor
Developer: Avalanche Studios
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Release Date: 1 September 2015
Set in the world of Mad Max, an apocalyptic wasteland at the edge of humanity. The world is in chaos, tribes, gangs, death, famine, and dust, lots of it. Max gets knocked out, manhandled, and robbed blind by the wasteland leader Scrotus and his band of elite lunatics. In the process he loses his car, and his temper and finally realizes that someone needs to do something about the situation in the Wasteland. With the help of a hunchback, and all-round freaky mechanic, Chumbucket, Max sets out to build the ultimate roadster-killing machine, and take down the factions and all their influences in the Wasteland.
As you go about your daily life in the Wasteland, Max comes across people who are willing to help him along the way. It’s a favour for favour world and nothing is free. The main objective of the game is slowly progress through the game’s vehicle progression system while lowering the control in each zone by destroying beacons, oil rigs, patrols, and outposts.
You car is your best friend in the Wasteland, as you spend 60% of the game in it, you will customize it, unlock new ways to deal damage, and upgrade the already available weapons. From afterburners, to harpoons to rip enemy drivers from their cars eat and fling them across the sky. It is all one pretty detailed upgrade system. You start off the game with an empty shell of a car, and you can choose a preset design that you will stick with for the rest of the game if you wanted. It will be your little scrap baby and you will be able to modify it, add spiked rims, flame pipes, extra accelerations, you name it.
All this upgrading comes at a price though, and the best currency in the Wasteland is none other than scrap. Scrap is obtained throughout the game no matter what you do. Blowing up enemy vehicles will leave scrap behind, pulling down scarecrows, and even taking over outposts will pay you scrap at certain intervals as the residents turn a once diseased bandit camp, into a refuge. All this scrap is used to purchase new parts for your vehicle like a new engine, upgraded harpoon shot, rims, armour, spikes, and petrol tank. This is the wasteland and petrol is scarce, so you will need to keep your car filled up at all times. Although I seldom ever got close to running low, and you can carry an extra canister that you find around camps.
You will only be able to upgrade certain part of your car if you have met the requirements. These are represented in mission form and need you to complete certain missions or lower the threat to a certain level before you are able to purchase that upgrade. It’s a much-needed upgrade system as you could just go out and upgrade everything at once, which will make you extremely overpowered. Everything in the game revolves around an upgrade system. From Max’s abilities, to your stronghold’s equipment which needs certain parts to be found that are scattered around the Wasteland. Nothing is free and everything will need a process to complete.
While you are going about you everyday life, these missions that you get from characters are mainly just side missions coated in a dialogue instead of a marker on your map. This is not an issue as you will be doing it anyway so it does not matter what form it comes in. One of the worst side-missions you possible get is disarming land mines, and although this sounds simple, it is a slow process that can only be completed in the car that your dog stays in. This means that you will have to go all the way back to your stronghold, pick it up take it to complete the mission, and then got all the way back. It is just not logical at all, and it proves again that dogs just do not make good video game companions.
The Wasteland is a tough place to live in, as scrounging for food and water comes in the form of eating dog food, maggots, and filling up your water bottle constantly. Although the feeling of scavenging is there in the early parts of the game, you seldom feel like it is survival game and when you are low on health you will drink from your bottle, or eat a tin of dog food that you come across while searching an outpost.
Max is a MMA fighter of note, and while you are out of vehicle on foot, you will rely on hand-to-hand combat to take down the enemies that you face in the camps. The combat is very similar to Shadow of Mordor and Arkham series as you rely on punching, dodging, counterattacks. You can pick up weapons and sue them too, but they break easily after a few hits. It is not as sooth as the Arkham series, and often you will try counterattack and miss your opportunity. As you progress through the game you will also unlock new equipment for Max, increasing damage, defence, and unlocking a wide variety of finish moves. One major issue I had was with the camera, as it does it own thing while in combat and does not zoom out enough, often blocking off enemies that you cannot see when they are about to attack you. The combat is satisfying and it feels great to break a jaw every now and then especially thanks to the game’s clever use of sound and vibration through the DualShock 4, as well as flashes of light as you land a perfect hit.
What makes Mad Max a great game is its equal distribution of on foot exploration and vehicle combat. It never gets old. There is always a war chief to snipe in the head, a patrol to take down, or a race to complete. As you are exploring the massive Wasteland and scavenging for scrap, you will always encounter something else to do, which will lead to another upgrade to unlock, and so the cycle continues. The game’s story could use a spit and polish, as it falls flat at times, and often gets spoiled by the character profiles that reveal all of the mystery surrounding certain main characters leaving them exposed and redundant.
Mad Max is a great film to game adaptation, and although it has nothing to do with the recent film, after watching the film, I just had to sit and play the game for a few hours as it imagines the world of Mad Max pretty well. It might lack in the story department, and some of its missions may get a bit tedious, but its a joyride of explosions and car combat that feels fresh all the time.