The Mad Max game is no different; there’s no princess to rescue, there’s no world to save, and you are simply a man trying to survive by any means necessary in a situation where everyone else is trying to do the exact same thing. This is why the game is a thing of beauty, and why I’ve been hooked since the second I pressed start.
You start as Max. You lose your car. Some story happens. You get a new car and a new accomplice in Chumbucket – a blackfinger mechanic who heralds you as a saint. You start building the greatest car to ever be known, a car known as the Magnum Opus. This car is a truly brilliant bit of game play because you get to build it up from just a chassis, selecting everything from its body to its engine and all the way down to its weaponry and driving style. Every tweak or change you make to it changes the way the car looks and more importantly the way it feels. Of course, this is an action game and not a driving sim so your options are limited but every part of the car was decided by you. Herein lies the brilliance because you become attached to your car, the very same way Max is attached to the Interceptor in the films. These cars aren’t just cars, but an extension of your character, a relic from a time before everything went bad.
The connection the game conveys between man and machine makes driving though the wasteland a joy to behold. If (and it’s a pretty big if) you get bored of all the racing and vehicular combat you can step out of the car and take on vicious marauders face to face. The fighting style in the game is pretty much the same as the Batman games, creating combos with timing and pulling off devastating heavy attacks to end opponents. It does lack some of the finesse in this regard but it gets the message across and really makes you feel empowered when you activate the fury meter and really start cracking skulls.
Last but not least is the locale. There’s much to be said about setting a game in a open world desert – a vast expanse of sandy emptiness can easily become a dull place to explore but Avalanche studio manage to pull it off. You can feel the loneliness of the desert, but at no point do you feel like nothings there. The cascading sand dunes roll forward to reveal cavernous paths, bridges buried and broken camps formed out of old submarines, and a whole cacophony of eerily beautiful constructions and destructions. Add to this some of the most intense storm physics I think I’ve ever seen in a game and the wasteland of Mad Max becomes not only an amazing game environment, but one that I keep going back to.
Mad Max is an amazing achievement, one that deserves your attention and really gets your blood pumping. There may be some shortcomings but I can see myself playing this for months to come. Something I rarely do with modern games. I am now the Road Warrior!
Reviewed on Xbox One
Author – Hal, Plymouth store