Mad Max – Review
PC, Xbox One, PS4
Mad Max: Fury Road was a punch in the face for the standard blockbuster fare we are treated to each year. It had two strong leads that barely said a word, amazing practical special effects and none of the fluff designed to establish future films that has crept into movies in recent times. It was an action blitz that left the viewer breathless so it is a shame that Mad Max the game is less “grand tour de force” and more “Sunday B grade fun”.
Mad Max starts out with Max killing the interestingly named “Lord Scrotus” and losing his beloved V8 in the process. As a result Max is stranded in the wasteland with nothing but a dirty pair of duds and a faithful blue heeler. It isn’t long however before Max meets his very own hunchback mechanic who sees him as some sort of messiah and begins to fix up a new car for Max to cause carnage in. So with his own personal worshipper and a bare bones car, Max sets out to improve his ride to the point it will make a journey over the plains of silence. Cue the next 25 hours or so of gameplay as Max upgrades his ride, kills some war boys and growls at helpful people. There really isn’t much more too it.
Luckily the gameplay is quite a bit of fun. Mad Max shares a lot of DNA with another WB game, Shadows of Mordor, with its open world that is largely available from the outset. Getting around the wasteland in a gradually improving beaten up old car is a lot of fun and perhaps the game’s shining light is the excellent car combat. Taking down other cars is done by using a combination of Max’s shotgun, ramming and a super handy harpoon that is also good for destroying enemy structures. Using these different tools in combination gives the car combat a wonderful free flowing feel that is a joy to partake in.
Hand to hand combat is competent but not as exciting as the vehicular side of things. The combat system has been has been taken wholesale from the Arkham games but is missing the visceral impact that made those games so much fun. There is nothing hugely wrong with how Max goes about beating up bad guys but there is nothing that makes it stand out either. Things do get more interesting as Max is upgraded with new combat movies but once the basics are mastered then there is little chance of dying in combat as long as concentration is held.
The world of Mad Max is an interesting one and for a post-apocalyptic wasteland strangely beautiful. There is no doubt this is a stunning looking game. Everything is lovingly detailed and framerate is silky smooth. The storms that randomly occur deserve special mention. Watching them roll in from the distance and then madly trying to escape them is a visual treat. The inhabitants all have plenty of character as well. The random enemies all get a little samey after a while but the key players are all unique and well created.
Perhaps the biggest downfall for Mad Max is that everything starts to feel the same after a while. All the missions have a similar feel to them and the extra activities are all video game staples like capturing bases or climbing towers (or floating in hot air balloons in this case) to reveal the map. Everything is well made and entertaining but even the best elements begin to drag a little after a long playtime. This is a game that is perhaps best played in small chunks as opposed to mainlining the game over a few days that way the repetitive nature won’t be nearly as pronounced.
Another major problem the game has is its voice acting, which is downright terrible. The person playing Max spends the whole time switching between something that resembles a drunk Paul Hogan and an extra from a Guy Ritchie movie. Other voices are similarly toxic making most of the in game conversations rubbish. Things aren’t helped by the poor writing either so turning on the subtitles doesn’t really make things and any less cringe worthy.
But despite all of these problems there is a lot of fun to be had with Mad Max. It is formulaic and chock full of gaming tropes but that is countered by some amazing car combat and an excellent open world. Mad Max is the type of game that many will play a lot of and then forget, never to think about it again. Entertaining, over-the-top fun that does nothing to make itself stand out from the pack, instead being happy with what it is. B grade action gaming at its finest, highly enjoyable but immediately forgettable.