Mad Max: The Game Review – Become the Road Warrior

Platform: PC, Xbox One, PS4
Developers: Avalanche Studios
Publisher: Warner Bros
Rating: TBC

Thanks to Mad Max: Fury Road, everyone’s favourite disgruntled road warrior is now riding high again after decades away from the big screen: the latest movie has been a big hit, earning more than $370M so far. To coincide with the film’s home video release, Max Rockatansky is now starring in his own long-awaited video game – the title promises to give gamers the definitive post-apocalyptic experience, but does it deliver?

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Step into Max’s Magnum Opus

The majority of gamers have explored post-apocalyptic worlds in one form or another by now: whether in Fallout 3 or Borderlands, Mad Max faces some tough competition. Thankfully, developers Avalanche Studios have the impressive Just Cause games under their belts, which feature sprawling open worlds and hardcore action – two prominent features in this game.

The story sees Max robbed of his beloved Interceptor car, by the brilliantly-named Scabrous Scrotus: this gets the hero riled up in grand fashion, and he sets out to get his property back. Max teams with a mutated mechanic named Chumbucket, who wants Max’s help to build his Magnum Opus: perhaps the toughest, fastest vehicle in the wastelands. Together, the two embark on a high-octane journey, filled with liberating settlements, vehicular combat, and taking down War Boys.

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While on-foot action is a large part of the game, players are likely to spend more time in the Magnum Opus: there’s plenty of environments to explore, and car-to-car combat is a lot of fun, particularly when you start to add new weapons & armour. Finding upgrades (‘salvage’) allows you to tweak the Magnum Opus, giving players enough customization options to create a unique vehicle: colours, body, decals, armour, spikes, ramming grills, and even a hood ornament can all be experimented with. Guns and harpoons can be used while at the wheel (to attach Max’s car to War Boys’ vehicles – making ramming them easier), and this manages to evoke the fast-paced action the films are known for.

So, what about melee combat? This being a Warner Bros game, the hand-to-hand fighting is reminiscent of the free-flow system seen in their hugely-popular Batman series and Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor: however, while the Caped Crusader is all about precision, restraint, and an almost clinical approach to disabling bad guys, Max is a brawler through and through. When fighting, his moves are unpolished, focused on creating maximum damage in the fastest time: clotheslines, ground-slams, kicks, and brutal finishers (involving knives) are all par for the course. Max has a shotgun at his disposal, but ammo is scarce, so fisticuffs are typically the smartest way to go. As Max fights, he builds up a fury metre – when this is full, his attacks become even more powerful.

Taking it to the Max

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As well as being able to tweak the Magnum Opus to suit their own style, players can also make changes to Max himself: head upgrades are available, and Max’s jacket can be tweaked too (with numerous benefits), and wrist armour, knuckledusters & an ammo belt can all be included. As players level up, they unlock more customization options; the in-game currency, griffa tokens, can also be used to purchase increased abilities (such as health upgrades and reducing fuel usage). This helps to make each player’s experience of the game a little bit different.

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The world of Max Max is huge, and while there’s a lot of sandy wastelands on display, shipwrecks, settlements, and sandstorms all add more visual dynamism – some players may find driving across certain environments fairly monotonous, but the world feels authentic to the Mad Max flavour. The graphics are stunning, with impressive detail and character designs: different War Boys factions have their own colours and vehicles, and while frame rates can dip from time to time, small glitches are nothing new for huge, open-world games (as anyone who’s played Skyrim or Fallout 3 will attest).

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