I’ve been whiling my time away with a few games, but before I talk about the smaller, independant games, let’s talk about the big-budget one first. No, it’s not MGS V. It’s Mad Max. Mad Max is a beautifully desolate game, but unfortunately a game that I’m not exactly stellar at, or enjoy very much. Those of you who follow HereBeGeeks know that my tastes run towards the RPG, the strategy, and epecially the turn-based. As an open world/drive around/do mini-missions type game, Mad Max is none of those things. Also, while I absolutely adored Fury Road, I haven’t watched the earlier movies, and all this means that you’d probably need to take what I say with a grain of salt.
Mad Max takes place in some weird prequel limbo before Fury road. He loses his black-on-black car from his previous movies in the opening cut scene, and he spends the rest of the game driving and upgrading his new ride, the Magnum Opus. Many have compared it to Shadows of Mordor sans the Nemesis system, but considering how integral the Nemesis system was to the game, that’s not saying much. I’m more inclined to compare it to the GTA/Saint’s Row series of games. After all, in all three games you get into a car, drive around, and complete quests either in or outside of the car. These quests allow you to increase your influence, decrease the influence of your enemies (Lord Scrotus… a ballsy move if you ask me), as well as gain scrap, this game’s money/bottlecaps. You also collect scrap from salvaging just about everything you see in the desert.
Like the GTA games, Mad Max’s open world and map is a double-edged sword. There’s a vast plethora of things you can do, but rather than adding to the game, they instead seem to slow it down. When the movie it was based off is essentially a 2-hour chase scene, stopping every five minutes slows your expectation of your game to a crawl. Yes you climb up ladders, zip down lines and descend into caves, but you’re doing it all ON FOOT. Even the fights are bland. Punch, punch, counter, dodge. As bloody as some of the counters and finishers are, it feels like a button-mash more than any sort of tactical, adrenaline-spiked rush. You long for the high-octane rush, the sound of rust and chrome spinning in the desert, the feel of your foot on the metal and the rubber in the sand.
That is where the true beauty of Mad Max lies; in the screaming highways of the desert on the way to Valhalla. The feeling as you nitro into a car, sending it exploding into scrap, or the first time you harpoon a man, dragging him screaming off of a tower. I haven’t done it yet, but I’ve heard than taking over your first convoy is pure nihilistic exultation. Mad Max is best at 80 kilometers per hour or more; it’s just too bad you spend so much of your time out of your car. It’s also too bad that you take so much time before you get to the good stuff.
I’ve read many reviews of Mad Max, and I’ve noticed that while reviewers are mixed over it (they generally think Mad Max is decent, but not an epic), the regular gamer seems to hold it in much higher regard. I think I know where the disconnect between reviewers and gamers come from. Time. It took me 2-3 hours before I could even get my Magnum Opus and the basic harpoon, and even now I’ve barely upgraded my car to do all the REALLY cool stuff. If you have plenty of time to sink into Mad Max, and if you love vehicular destruction, I don’t think Mad Max will steer you wrong. However, if you’re working a busy job, or have too many games on your plate, I don’t see how you will be able to set aside the time you need to Mad Max as what it is supposed to be.
Mad Max is available on Steam and in stores now.
PS: I didn’t get why we would need a back story to Mad Max. Considering he’s the ‘lone wanderer’ archetype, the more he talks, the less interesting he is. I would’ve much preferred this story to be Furiosa’s prequel. Why not start with your kidnapping as a child, and then have the game be you working your way to help Immortan Joe fortify his power in the desert, and maybe have the end scene be you finally deciding that enough is enough? Wouldn’t that make more sense?