'Mad Max' Brings Death And Destruction To The Wastelands

September 4, 2015

To some, the Mad Max movies are sacred. The three movies starring Mel Gibson helped lay the groundwork for how post-apocalyptic worlds would be presented for decades to come. Max is thrust into a world where he searches to avenge his family and survive as society crumbles around him. This great cinematic struggle is near and dear to the hearts of many, and these three films still stand up today. More than 35 years since the first movie, Mad Mad was resurrected in 2015 on the big screen, as a critical and commercial success in Mad Max: Fury Road. The second time that Mad Max was resurrected in 2015 is for a video game; the first, and only other, to bear this hallowed name since the 1990 NES 8-bit take on Mad Max 2. The 2015 Mad Max video game is not the Mad Max that you know and love from the movies, in the same way that the Walking Dead TV show is not the same as the Walking Dead that you know and love from the comics. This game is inspired by the Mad Max world, and not tied directly to any of the films, but that doesn't make it any less brutal.

Developer: Avalanche Studios
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment

Avalanche Studios have been making games since 2006, and are uniquely qualified to work on a Mad Max game. Previously, their biggest title was Eidos Interactive's (and now Square Enix's) Just Cause franchise, which finds the player controlling a renegade throughout an expansive open world. Additionally, in 2011 they released Renegade Ops for Sega, a download-only vehicular combat game. Mad Max finds itself at the intersection of the Venn diagram that is those two games create. Mix in some of the mechanics from their hunting franchise, The Hunter and you've got the recipe for a very interesting Mad Max game.

Much like the Mad Max movies, Mad Max the video game takes place in a vast, desert wasteland, where the bold and brazen rule with an iron first. In the game's opening scene, our protagonist, aptly named Max, has his sweet ride, the Interceptor, stolen by the local big boss, Scabrous Scrotus, and his followers. In an attempt to steal it back, Max puts a chainsaw in Scrotus' skull before the baddies ride off, triumphantly, leaving Max for dead. Max soon recovers, and quickly finds an ally in a deformed mechanic, Chumbucket, who promises to build Max a bigger and better car, which he has deemed the "Magnum Opus," so that he can take down Gastown. The story unfolds as Max and Chum ride through the wasteland together, slowly deposing Scrotus' power, while aligning themselves with the local factions, in order to secure sanctuary, and a place to work on their car.

Mad Max is an open world game, with the twist being that there isn't much of a world. While most sandbox style games create these vibrant cityscapes to explore, Mad Max is just the opposite, with imposing sand dunes, canyons, and relics of a lost society. As you're driving around, there are camps to scavenge for scrap, hot air balloons to use to scout, and strongholds to secure and build up. While it may seem deserted, there's actually a lot to do, but it's on you to go seek it out. Outside of the car, ground combat should feel familiar, as it is in line with some other Warner Bros. games (that star a man that dresses up like a bat), which offers a nice balance of gameplay between driving around and beating up bad dudes.

The latest incarnation of Mad Max can be found on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. If the game teaches us anything, you're going to want to pick up one of those consoles soon, before the world is turned into a vast desert, and you're scrounging for food, water, and gas.

Mad Max is a bit of a tough sell no matter how you look at it. If you're a fan of the movies, this doesn't really have much to do with them. If you're looking for a great open world, sandbox game, this isn't really one of those either. That being said, it's not a bad game when you get down to it, especially if you're the type of player that likes collecting things. The expansive, sparsely-populated desert makes for an interesting setting where you can drive for long distances without encountering too much trouble, and that's a surprisingly refreshing level of freedom. In fact, virtually everything related to your car make for the game's biggest selling points. The driving, combined with scrap collection and the Magnum Opus customization are two of the best parts of the game, offering solid vehicular combat and a compelling reason to tool around on your car. The storyline itself is interesting, and it offers an even more elaborate take on the Mad Max world than the movies have provided. The game is not without its problems (camera, repetitive mission types, etc.), but most of that can be easily overlooked, as Mad Max does immerse the player in a world where there is always something to do, and always someone to hunt down.