Platform: PC, Xbox One, PS4
Developers: Avalanche Studios
Publisher: Warner Bros
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?
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.
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
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.
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).