- + Looting for scrap is addictive
- + Huge map to explore
- + Upgrading your car to perfection
- - Cumbersome UI hampered my progression
- - Frame rate struggles during intense action
Start Replay: “What A Lovely Game”
Want to look beyond the score? Check out the full review below…
Mad Max wowed cinema goers with its hair raising stunts and blood-pumping action in the Tom Hard-led Fury Road. This game attempts to capture the same atmosphere with explosions, fast cars and a mesmerising post-apocalyptic world. Whilst it’s a great adventure by the makers of Just Cause, it’s also unfortunately marred by technical difficulties.
The good news is that Max’s first gaming adventure isn’t based on a movie license, meaning the developer, Avalanche Studios, has had a free reign throughout its creation. It isn’t adhering to any strict guidelines, or shoehorning in any unnecessary events or dull gameplay, it has taken the essence of what makes Mad Max so great and built a consistent world around him. It’s a little rough in places (particularly in the UI), but give it some time and you’ll become enveloped.
With such a large map handed to you, Avalanche has managed to craft a vibrant and detailed world, consisting of war torn areas filled with rubble and remnants of the past. This post-apocalyptic rendition is now inhabited by numerous enemy outposts, markers and points of interest; broken up into sections and featuring three main territories. A single glance at the map’s enormity will make anyone gasp.
With so many sections, each filled with their own share of enemies and threats, taking over camps or destroying monuments will lower an area’s notoriety and unlock further vehicle and character upgrades. I found it pretty addictive scouting out each area until every threat had been eliminated. The faster I collected loot and lowered threats, the quicker I could upgrade and feel more like a badass.
Mad Max in an open world is everything you’d expect, complete with a barren wasteland to explore. The fact that you gain health through finding cans of dog food or stocking water really helps to make you feel on edge, as if you truly are in a wasteland. Of course your car, the Magnum Opus, plays a starring role, and throughout you’ll be tasked with acquiring parts in order to build your very own metal behemoth. Customisation plays a big part on your journey and as a result collecting scrap and any valuable junk is vital to your progression. Should you incur a large amount of damage, a companion by the name of Chumbucket (who you meet at the start of the game) will also be on-hand to repair your vehicle at any time.
Taking lead from most other action games, fighting focuses on a free-flow combat system and requires only a simple combination of button presses. Successfully deflecting an enemy will allow for your rage meter to fill up, which when full, will grant you the ability to hit back with unstoppable power.
Compared to the likes of the Batman Arkham series which it takes inspiration from, fighting in Mad Max seems cumbersome and rather lethargic. I understand Max isn’t a professional and that fights are supposed to be a little rough n’ tumble, but being unable to perform at my best due to a dodgy camera, or a lack of balance whilst being surrounded by too many enemies felt frustrating and unfair. It gets better as you upgrade, but in the beginning it kinda sucks.
Though finding new car parts or collecting loot for in-game currency is fun, simply driving around and exploring is just as rewarding. Coming across a dark road, for instance, meant that a convoy route had been found. Following this route would generally lead me to a bunch of vehicles protecting one larger tanker or car. Successfully destroying the target would give me a hood ornament, altering my car’s appearance whilst also implementing an ability boost.
It would’ve been very easy for the environment to become an uninteresting open space with nothing to do, but instead Avalanche has crafted a world that is surprisingly alive for a post-apocalyptic dustbowl, and the endless number of events you can seamlessly participate in consistently remind you of that fact.
When I had enough down time to explore and take in my surroundings, the beautiful design of the world began to take shape. Whether I was in the midst of a sandstorm or peering into the distance with the sun facing back at me, it made me happy enough to sit back and coast until I found something interesting. The addition of a “photo mode” made me take a ton of pretty images (see below). Although I didn’t spend much time with building other cars, countless vehicles that you come across can be stolen and taken back to a stronghold for personal use.
Despite all this, it feels like a half-baked project with moments of greatness littered throughout. My experience was often ridden with bugs, which sometimes meant progression through the campaign was near impossible at times. Plus, the frame rate struggled to cope at certain times and brought the action on screen down to a painfully sluggish pace. After such a lengthy development time, it’s a pity to see these technical issues.
Avalanche has achieved what many others haven’t been able to, which is crafting a game based on a movie license and making it great. I may have encountered a fair amount of bugs and fisticuff issues, but its addictive looting and beautiful vistas help gloss over the bad. Buy this if you like open world games that provide bang for your buck. And explosions.
*Mad Max was provided to Start Replay on PS4 by Warner Bros. Entertainment and Xbox One by Xbox
**PS4 vs Xbox One Graphical Comparison Coming Soon**