PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
“Do you know who I was? Nobody. Except on the day after, I was still alive. This nobody had a chance to be somebody.”
Gather round, War Pups, as I do the Tell of a game based on the Word Burgers of the History Men and eyewitness accounts of those who survived. This is the Tell of The Road Warrior, the man we call “Max.” Once a cop, a driver, whose whole world burned with roar of an engine before the pox-eclipse scorched the rest. A man, haunted by the demons of his past, who wandered out into the Wasteland. And in this blighted place, he learned to live again.
“The last of the V8 Interceptors…a piece of history! Would’ve been a shame to blow it up.”
Except…they always do. And if you’ve seen any of the trailers for Avalanche’s literal sandbox tribute to George Miller’s iconic film franchise, you know that this game is no exception. Max Rockatansky loses his beloved “Black on Black” in the opening cinematic, taken by the hulking Lord Scrotus (but not without a chainsaw blade embedded in his noggin for the effort). Thus begins your downtrodden journey into the Wasteland of Mad Max; beaten, broken, defeated and even carless. But look on the bright side–there’s nowhere to go from here but up…right?
Mad Max is a game that’s as bleak, barren, and unforgiving as the environment you inhabit, and you will experience EVERY last inch of that environment, as this isn’t a game that begs exploration—it absolutely demands it. And let me tell you, there’s a whole lotta Wasteland out there to get lost in, kids! Thankfully, you won’t be traversing it on foot. No, you get a brand-spanking-new rust bucket courtesy of your friendly neighborhood hunchback, Chumbucket!
But, lucky you! Chumbucket’s no ordinary wasteland wretch. He just so happens to be the most skilled “Blackfinger” (i.e. badass mechanic) in all the land, who prays at the altar of all things engine-related, and has deemed you the patron saint of the Angel of Combustion. So you’ve got that going for you…which is nice. Chum’s the best friend you can hope to have out here, where working wheels equal survival. Well, a CHANCE at survival anyway (slim one at that). The eternal Road War rages on after all, and like it or not, you are an unwitting pawn in its game.
Although most reviews for the game have been mixed, this reviewer enjoyed every second of my 40+ hours living out my depraved post apocalyptic fantasies. Granted, I never thought so many of those fantasies would include fetch quests, but I digress.
While Avalanche succeeded on every possible level bringing George Miller’s leather-clad vision of humanity’s future to life, the gameplay is truly the sum of its parts…aaaaand most of those are borrowed. Max pummels bad guys into the ground just like Batman. Quite literally in fact, as the hand to hand combat is lifted straight out of Rocksteady’s Arkham series. Which is more than fine by me, as I found Batman’s melee mechanics to be some of the most fluid I’d ever used, the same obviously going for Max. In fact, your whole control layout as well as the tiered enemy variety in the on-foot segments is damn near identical to the Arkham games. Oh, and you’ll need to find Vantage Points to ascend (via clever use of hot air ballons) in order to unlock the map in your current area, ala Assassin’s Creed.
But, that’s only 40% of the game. The other 60% is, of course, the car combat which reminded me of a cross between something like Grand Theft Auto and Twisted Metal. And don’t be fooled by how easy it seems it the beginning; this is the only time the game cuts you any slack. After the tutorial period ends, the game’s difficulty spikes dramatically, seemingly taking pleasure in showing you just how futile all your little accomplishments have been thus far. After awhile you get the hang of it…and the difficulty spikes AGAIN. The themes of this game’s story are loss, hopelessness, and futility, and that carries over to the gameplay as well.
Don’t constantly upgrade your car: You die. Don’t upgrade your weapons: You DIE. Hell, don’t upgrade your damn jacket & gloves…YOU DIE. There are literally a million ways to die in the Wasteland, and I’d say I encountered at least a thousand. While the story starts off rather sparse, by the end the narrative truly comes together, driving you to feel the same hatred and revulsion that Max himself is feeling. It’s been a *looOoOong* time since a game had me spewing profanities at the television (and thanks to the brilliantly utilized speakers on the controller, the game decided to yell some back).
I can see why quite a few gamers aren’t taking the same shine to Mad Max that I did: a) They’re not rabid fans of the franchise in awe of FINALLY getting to tool around an Easter Egg filled take on George Miller’s vision as Max himself OR b) they’re all about insta-kills & online deathmatches with little to no desire to immerse themselves in a “slow & steady wins the race” world of weirdness. Regardless, my hours tooling around the Wasteland clad in leather & spikes and rockin’ a monster of a vehicle that I’d personally designed were hours well spent.
“The Warrior of the Wasteland! The Ayatollah of Rock and Rolla!”
OUT OF 5
In that blighted place, I learned to game again. And though I may’ve started out a soft wad of dough, I left the Wasteland a hardened Road Warrior. And you know what? I can’t wait to go back.
+ 40+ hours of gameplay
+ Sandbox environment
+ Customization features
+ Familiar gameplay mechanics
– Recycled fetch quests