E3 2015 – Mad Max Hands-On Preview: Grappling With Fun

A few years ago Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment showed off an early build of Max Max the game behind closed doors, and sadly, I was not lucky enough to be able to see it at that time. But, thankfully at this year’s E3 2015, I was able to not only see the game in action, but get some time messing around with its physics engine, customize my car and take out a few bad guys along the way.

This One’s Mine

The first thing to note about the Mad Max game is that it’s not tied to the film; and while I haven’t seen it, it’s nice that it’s making a name for itself. With so many products constantly trying to mimic other products there is always a sense that the attached product is little more than a faded shadow of the full experience. While my time with Mad Max the game was limited to about 20 minutes, I was able to see that the game does feel like it’s truly trying to recreate the sensation of living life in the post-apocalyptic wastes, and what it means to have to traverse a wide and barren landscape filled with hostile marauders. 

This, of course, means that there is a great deal of emphasis on Max’s car, the “Magnum Opus.” which can be upgraded on a number of levels. The big thing though, is that as you modify your car, you aren’t simply just adding things together ’til you have the highest leveled vehicle, you are actually applying new physics to your car. Wanting to add that super powerful bumper so you can do more collision damage? Well, you’re going to have to deal with the added weight, and how that’s going to effect your car’s handing and performance. 

Customization was a major factor for the demo that was available for play, as you can unlock a number of different body types, paint jobs, engines and just about every major part of your car can be changed so that you can make it feel more like your own. 

Testing the Engine

Starting out the demo, I was at an enemy camp where I had to take down a number of marauders and loot some supplies. The biggest thing to make sure I found was fuel, since  driving around the apocalypse will require gas, and you have to make sure you keep yourself stocked up on fuel if you want to go anywhere. Otherwise, prepare to travel on foot and run the risk of being hunted down. Going hand-to-hand with the marauders felt solid, as combat was smooth but it really didn’t offer too much in of a challenge, so it is hard to say how deep it truly was. But, it did feel quite a bit like the Arkham series, as I was able to move between multiple foes, as well as counter as needed.

After grabbing some scrap, fuel and parts for my car, I noticed that one area was blocked off inside a storage container and inaccessible. At this point, I was told to just get in the car and back up. From here I chose one of the car’s weapons, the grappling hook and shot it at the container door. As my rep was trying to tell me how to pull open the doors, I decided to instead simply step on the gas and truly test out the physics engine behind Mad Max. Needless to say, the door not only opened, it was ripped off. 

The Road is Not Safe

Once I hopped back in my car, and took off with my sidekick Chumbucket riding in the back, I headed off to the nearest mission, which was to take down the leader of an enemy caravan. I was warned that this could be difficult if I tried to simply take out the leader, as the other cars will be doing their best to stop me, so I should focus on them at first. On the way there, I was told to simply hammer the boost button, as I shouldn’t have to worry about fuel given the time constraints of the demo. Upon cutting the road a few times and testing out the cars shocks, they work well, I reached my intended target and watched as a few of the tailing cars pulled around to meet me. So, after having just equipped a new bumper, I decided to see how that worked, and thankfully, it more than did the trick. The enemy spun around, letting me get closer to my target.

From here I knew that I had to focus on the leader, as the target car wasn’t engaging and simply trying to run away. So, I aimed at the tailing car with my grappling hook and fired just to see what would happen, but as I shot I missed and the body of the car and hit its tire, ripping it out and immobilizing it. This immediately became my favorite new toy. After a few more cars went down, I lined myself up next to the leader and before I could decided what to use next, another car on the opposite side tried to ram me. This was a perfect time to test out the flamethrower, which shot flame from both sides of my car and caught the attention of my target. 

At this point every vehicle was trying to take me down, enemies were hopping on top of my car, it could have easily gone south from here. Pulling out my shotgun, I was able to make short work of anyone hitching a ride and eventually shot my target in the face as I drove by putting an end to the mission quickly. This apparently caused him to drop a new engine for me to use on my car, unfortunately, once I put it in, time was already up. Mad Max lived up to its name, but given the barren landscape, I do hope to get another chance to see just how much more there is in the world besides shooting things with a grappling hook and a shotgun — though those were awesome experiences to start out with.