AN entertaining and faithful tribute to the dystopian action films
Game review: Mad Max
Platform: Xbox One (reviewed) / Playstation 4 / PC
IT is remarkable that it has taken until now for a game to made of Max Rockatansky’s dystopian adventures? The setting - a post apocalyptic wasteland - and the plot - a bloodthirsty moral crusade conducted at blistering pace - are ideal for the medium. Now, 36 years after the first film hit the big screen, the frenzied elements of an adored series have been brought together in a title which, though far from perfect, does a great job of putting you behind the gnarled protagonist’s wheel.
Developers Avalanche Studios, the Swedish firm best known for their work on the Just Cause franchise, have chosen not to base the game exclusively on the latest film or even the original. Instead, it cherry picks aspects from across the series. There are generous references for fans and certain characters are related to those who appeared in the films. Everywhere it is clear that this is a game by Mad Max fans for Mad Max fans.
The game world may be barren but it is teeming with danger
Nowhere is this more evident than the game world itself. It may be a barren and godforsaken place, but just like in the movies, it is teeming with atmosphere and ever present danger. It is the ideal foundation for long pregnant pauses where Max finds himself adrift and alone, to frenetic action sequences which take place in superbly realised sandstorms. This is a desert landscape that feels alive and thrilling.
While comparisons have made to Fallout, another open world title with a similar setting, they do not quite hit the mark. The majority of gameplay in Mad Max is vehicular and this is its undoubted highlight. Its entire premise is based around building a car - named the Magnum Opus - and, eventually, upgrading it into a fearsome killing machine with spikes and fire burners to inflict pain and suffering on those who stand in your way.
A fluid control system allows you to fight and drive at the same time
The steering can feel sensitive at first but once you get used it, it feels immensely satisfying. The best part, however, is the combat, with Max able to train his array of weapons on other drivers while hurtling forward at breakneck speed. Unconventional attack strategies are even more thrilling, such as when you harpoon a foe at high speed and pluck them from their car. Driving and fighting at the same time is a tricky proposition, but Avalanche have hit upon a fluid control system.
The on foot action, unfortunately, is not quite as successful. The combat is decent if unremarkable but most of Max’s time outside the car is spent on a series of side quests and tasks, scavenging for water, food - maggots and dog food are staples of his rounded diet - ammunition, scrap parts and fuel. All this adds to the sense that resources are scarce and Max is on a one man revenge mission, but they feel a little grating at times, at least compared to the excitement on the road.
TIPS AND TRICKS:
Don’t just drive past petrol stations and garages. The game allows you to take these sites over - after a fight or two - and they are precious sources of scrap for improving your car.
When you meet the Griffa character, work towards getting the perk that allows to take on board more water. It can be hard to come by otherwise.
Keep an eye out for scrap crates that are tossed around in storms and break them open.