I’m always worried about video games that are based on popular movie franchises. Too often, publishers will rely on the game’s name to garner sales, rather than quality gameplay. However, after spending countless hours with Mad Max, I think that despite a few flaws, it does not fall into the above category, but instead manages to establish itself as a unique and entertaining game.
Not surprisingly, the story revolves around Max as he attempts to get revenge on the bandits that wrecked his beloved car, as well as come to terms with who he has become. It’s not exactly the most intelligent or unique plot, but it is helped by fairly well-written dialogue, decent voice acting, and some truly interesting characters, like Chumbucket, a crazy hunchback that serves as Max’s sidekick after giving him a new car. The car, called Magnum Opus, becomes like Max’s and Chumbucket’s baby, as both are constantly trying to upgrade it and make it better. In turn, the car becomes a major part of the game.
A lot of your time in Mad Max will be spent behind the wheel of Magnum Opus. It serves as the main mode of transportation across the vast, desert landscapes (at least until the game’s scattered fast travel locations are discovered), and it also serves as a way to destroy your enemies. While driving along the incredibly large world of Mad Max, players will inevitably run into numerous vehicle-based enemies, and it will be up to the players’ driving skills and car combat skills to dispatch of these bad guys. Players have the option to ram into enemy vehicles, or side-swipe them, or even fire weapons at them, such as the car’s hook launcher, which can be used to pull enemies right out of their car’s windows, Max’s shotgun, and more.
Luckily, everything goes into slow motion when using a weapon and driving at the same time, making combat both easier and more cinematic. Besides taking on enemy vehicles, players will also have to use the Magnum Opus to destroy various structures, such as sniper towers, bandit monuments, or even the metal doors to massive enemy bases.
Of course, not all combat is done while behind the wheel of a car. Max is also skilled at hand-to-hand combat, and players will have plenty of opportunities to destroy enemies with Max’s fists. Melee combat is a lot like combat in Shadow of Mordor or the Batman: Arkham games. It is quick, combo-based, and forces the player to quickly press counter buttons to block attacks. Since there are different types of enemies, such as ones with shields or ones that can’t be countered, players have to be fairly strategic when fighting in hand-to-hand combat, making sure to keep track of each enemy’s strengths and attacking their weaknesses.
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Max can also pick up melee weapons, which break after a short amount of time, or use his shotgun when ammo can actually be found. During the course of the game, players are able to level up their combat skills in order to perform more finishing moves and stronger attacks. There are a number of gruesome and entertaining animations to watch while in hand-to-hand combat, making it fun to engage i.
Too Much to Do
Besides following the main story, players can also take on numerous side-missions. Most of these side-missions deal with lowering the number of bandits in a certain region, and to do this, players have to take out various sniper posts, monuments, vehicles, and bases. The bases are all given a difficulty rating, as Mad Max has no difficulty settings, and generally contain quite a few enemies, as well as the occasional boss character. Generally, bases are pretty linear, and can be taken over by blowing up oil rigs or oil barrels in them. Once taken over, the bases will no longer be hostile and will provide Max with scraps, which is the in-game currency.
By using scraps, players can upgrade both Max’s gear and his skills, as well as his car. There are a large amount of upgrades available to each, and there are even some customization options, too. Max, for example, can change his hair style, while the Magnum Opus can get new bodies, paint, decals, and more. If you wanted to, you could dedicate hours upon hours trying to both unlock and find different customization items in the wild.
Actually, that’s what I ended up doing, since going around and taking over bases and beating up bad guys can get pretty tedious. See, after playing for several hours, you won’t experience anything new. The bases are all similar, the enemies all sort of look the same, and while the world is graphically beautiful, the barren, desert landscapes very quickly become uninteresting, boring, and repetitive. The problem is that nothing changes as you progress through the game. Sure, the bad guys get harder to beat and Max gets new skills, but the ideas and gameplay mechanics stay the same, and there are only so many bases you can take over before it becomes more of a chore than a form of entertainment. There are hours upon hours of content in the game, but in the end, Mad Max would have benefited from being shorter.
That being said, I did enjoy my time with Mad Max. It has fun melee and vehicle combat mechanics, and it has an engaging upgrade and customization system in place. While things did begin to feel old after a while, players can still get many, many hours out of the game before that happens.
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