I was extremely excited for the release of Mad Max this past coming week. And after playing it for over 12 hours I think I finally have enough experience to give it a proper review.
I am, like many others, a huge fan of the Mad Max franchise. I have seen every movie, and am very excited for the upcoming sequels to Fury Road, which was released this past May. So I like to think that I know what I am talking about when I say that this game is a perfect addition to the Mad Max universe. In typical Mad Max fashion, Max is just trying to mind his own business and do his own thing, when he is ambushed, beaten and left for dead. His car stolen and scrapped, his only hope is to let a Blackfinger (mechanic) by the name of Chumbucket build him a new, better car so he can continue on his journey. Like all Mad Max movies, it doesn’t directly relate to or follow any movie the way a prequel or sequel would. Rather, it ties into the universe whilst creating it’s own little world and story. There are relations to the other movies ( for example, his leg brace from Road Warrior or the “War” enemies from Fury Road) but you didn’t have to see those movies in order to understand what’s happening.
Now that we’ve covered story tie-ins, let’s talk game elements. In typical wasteland fashion, a good portion of the game involves scavenging for gas, ammo, water, and scrap metal. While this is a key game mechanic, scavenging isn’t as grinding as it is in other games. Gas may be scarce in the beginning, but it takes a while to use up all of it, plus you can carry an extra can in the back of your car. In addition, camps are full of gas cans, many of which respawn and later in the game, you can upgrade strongholds to give you full gas upon entry. The same can be said for water (which is used to refill health) as many camps have several canteen filling stations, plus with the Essence ability given by Grippa, even a small amount of water can go a long way. Ammo is slightly more annoying to find until you get the Armory upgrade to a stronghold, but on the other hand having ammo all the time would make the game too easy. Scrap is essential for all upgrades in the game. It can be found almost anywhere but usually in small amounts. However, the scrap mechanic is almost perfectly balanced. It is just hard enough to find so that you will be forced to scavenge in order to get upgrades, but not so hard to find that it takes you forever to get enough for one upgrade (with the exception of end-game car and Max upgrades, which cost a lot.) Also, you can unlock Clean-Up Crew (which automatically retrieves scrap from destroyed cars) and Scrap Crew (which earns you scrap while offline) upgrades for strongholds which will help you earn scrap faster, plus every camp you liberate will earn scrap for you. The more camps you own, the more scrap per collection.
Now let’s talk combat. The combat system in the game is a little tricky to get used to at first, but is ingenious once you become accustom to it. Melee combat works similarly to the Arkham franchise where you can attack with heavy and light attacks, chain attacks between enemies, and parry attacks. But unlike the Arkham franchise, there are special attacks such as a Perfect Parry, which, when upgraded, can cause you to break bones, gut-shot enemies and a whole cast of other finishers. Also, there are upgrades like Shoulder Charge and Wall Finisher, which will kill and enemy if you back him into a wall and continue to beat him. If you manage to find shivs (not hard to do) you can finish off disoriented enemies with a Shiv Finisher, which instantly kills them. There are two guns in the game. The primary weapon is the shotgun. Shotgun combat works similarly to Fallout, where you pick the enemy to shoot, then fire, instead of just holding the gun like GTA. This works out better because it’s easier to finish off enemies in a large brawl. The shotgun can also be upgraded with up to four barrels, effectively giving you four shots before having to reload. The other gun in the game is the Sniper Rifle. This gun can only be used in the Magnum Opus and is used primarily to dispose of Snipers. It has a light snap-to-target area and is rarely used in the game, however it is a valuable tool to clear out some camp defenses without being detected. And lastly, you have car combat. This is the cherry on the sundae and the most important aspect of this game. When fighting other cars, you have many options on how to take them out, most of which require upgrades to the car, which you can unlock fairly quickly. You can always try to outrun them, and you can usually lose them, but fighting is usually the way to go. The Magnum Opus packs some heavy weaponry such as: the Shotgun, which can be used to detonate fuel tanks, damage armor, blow off tires, and kill drivers, the Ramming Grill, which is used to deal massive damage when hitting cars head-on, Wheel Grinders, which deal constant damage when driving alongside someone, flamethrowers, which can burn drivers, detonate fuel tanks, and deal damage at the cost of fuel, the Thunderpoon, an explosive tipped harpoon which can destroy armor or destroy cars, and the Harpoon, which can bring down Scarecrows, Sniper Towers, Flame Mortars, and Gates, as well as rip off car doors, pull drivers from their cars, latch onto bumpers for increased ramming damage, and even pull the tires off cars and leave them stranded in the desert. In addition, the Magnum Opus features boost and side swipe abilities which can further your damage and combat options.
Lastly, let’s talk about game longevity. There is a lot to do in this game. I am personally choosing to take it slow and even after playing for around 12 hours, I’m barley halfway through the game. But I have a friend who choose to be more story driven and beat the story in less than a day. But still, he gets on every night and plays all the side quests, liberates camps, and continues to upgrade his Magnum Opus and Max . I’d say he’s probably put in 20 or so hours and he’s not even close to being done yet.
This game is the perfect game for any Mad Max fan. Many major game journalists will try and give this a bad review because they are distorted into thinking this game is trying to parallel Fury Road. That is simply not true. While the game was released a few months after Fury Road, that was only because the Mad Max fan base was heightened due to the movie and a whole new wave of fans had emerged. The game may draw some inspiration in the form of characters (Scrotus is the son of Immortan Joe, the War Pups are enemies) but it doesn’t try and mimic the movie in any way. They never mention the events of Fury Road, nor do they forshadow them (I’m still not sure if this takes place before or after Fury Road) in fact, they never mention any other movie. This game, like all Mad Max media, exists in it’s own bubble, which ties into the other media, but doesn’t directly relate to them. And because of it’s genuine Mad Max feel, as well as it’s captivating story, hours of content, and just the general awesome feeling that you get when playing, I give this game