“Faster than a bullet, tougher than a monkey wrench. But does Mad Max live up to its Hollywoood cousin?”
I’ll admit that I’m a sucker for open-world videogames and I’ve never shied away from playing the ones from this genre every chance I get. The argument about adaptations of video games from books or movie franchises is still prevalent and will not die out for the foreseeable future. As a geek, you certainly wish to relive certain movies in video games by controlling the protagonist through the central story. Imagining the same with the Mad Max franchise will definitely get anyone’s hopes up, if you consider the complete scenario presented in the comic books and movies (obviously, if you’ve actually read the comics or watched the movies). Although, the Mad Max videogame has been under development for several years on paper, fans of the franchise have surely been psyched up with the possibilities the game might bring to the table. With the release of the recent Mad Max movie, expectations from the game really went sky high. Fresh with the visuals from the movie, I wasted no time in starting up our PS4 copy for Mad Max but after a couple of hours driving and collecting scrap around the vast post-apocalyptic wasteland, I was bored.
The game’s story revolves around our emotionally deranged protagonist going against a Warlord named Scabrous Scrotus who also happens to be the son of Immortan Joe. The story is set in a parallel universe somewhere in Australia and it doesn’t fall under any particular timeline from the franchise. So, if you’re new to the Mad Max universe, you won’t feel alienated. The story begins with Max being assaulted by Scrotus and his war boys and having his V8-engined car, The Interceptor, stolen from him. In an attempt to get his car back, Max goes head-to-head with Scrotus and hacks a chainsaw to Scrotus’ skull but still fails to retrieve his car.
What follows is a journey Max must complete if he wishes to drive his beloved vehicle again. This dreaded quest sees the company of Chumbucket, an extremely coked up motor genius with a striking resemblance to the hunchback from the movie 300. Chumbucket believes Max to be ‘The Saint’ according to a prophecy and proposes to build the ‘Magnum Opus’, a vehicle addressed by the ‘Angel of Combustion’. Chumbucket’s role is crucial to the game’s basic objective of retrieving Max’s car since he’s the one responsible for upgrading your ride. While exploring the wasteland, you’ll be looting and collecting scrap to fortify your vehicle as you progress to face off against tougher enemies driving heavier armoured vehicles. On this journey, Max will come across relics which try to shed some light on how the world used to be before the apocalypse and also memories about his wife and daughter.
To explore or not to explore
The wasteland is huge but the points of interest on the map aren’t located too far apart. Chumbucket will accompany you throughout the journey, aiding you in repairing the vehicle and during attacks. Thanks to the Fast Travel feature, you won’t have to waste much of your time driving from one point to another during missions. However, most of the missions are carried out on the road so, you’ll be spending more than half of the game driving through the wasteland. You won’t be able to play certain missions from the main story since some of them require a minimum level and also make it mandatory to complete smaller missions. To upgrade your level or rank, you’ll have to attack camps, destroy war parties and convoys, etc. A creepy mystical character who goes by the name Griffa pops up on the map whenever you level up and grants you magical points increase your legend stats. Your legend will make your efforts of collecting resources and combat more effective.
For example, you’ll be able to collect more scrap while looting or deal more damage with melee attacks if you have a higher legend stat. The conventional marauding must be continued in parallel to the main story if you intend to complete the game seamlessly. Otherwise, if you fall short of the rank, you’ll have to deviate from the main story and head back out to the wasteland to level up. This is one reason you shouldn’t consider using Fast Travel since all the levelling up happens while you’re exploring the wasteland. As you level up, you’ll also be collecting scrap on the way which can be used by Chumbucket to upgrade your vehicle. The upgrades will ensure that your vehicle is heavily protected and armed to take on the enemies lurking around in the wasteland. The amount of scrap required to upgrade parts for your car will seem quite high if you aren’t regularly completing the small missions so, don’t ignore them. Upgrading the vehicle brings a lot of advantages during vehicular combat, turning your vehicle into a tank.
Insane brawler + excellent driver = Max
If the Mad Max franchise evokes a concern about surviving in an actual post-apocalyptic world, you should consider developing mad skills in fist fighting, wielding weapons and driving vehicles. The hand-to-hand combat harks back to the same brand of brawling mechanics used in the Batman Arkham series without introducing anything new. It follows the same method to parry enemy attacks with one-button counters, which drastically drops the difficulty of fighting enemies. The challenge rises comparatively when larger groups of different types of enemies attack with weapons while being protected with upgraded armour. Then again, due to the ridiculously simple parry system, it’s all way too easy. Vehicular combat was expected to be the game’s unmatched feature and the developer has really done a great job here.
Equipped with a harpoon built by the skilled Chumbucket, it introduces an interesting dimension to taking down enemies with your vehicle. Using the harpoon, you can pull out drivers from enemy vehicles, rip off tyres, bring down sniper towers or simply hook it up to the war boys lingering around the wasteland. You’ll eventually be able to upgrade your harpoon to carry out more amazing actions through the missions. Ramming into enemy vehicles is fun, especially when you do a head-on collision powered with a boost. Upgrading your ride will improve the chances of surviving war party attacks since certain upgrades can really make a difference. Your vehicle will get damaged during attacks and Chumbucket will repair the vehicle whenever the vehicle is stationary. Melee combat has been clearly dumbed down, but vehicular combat is definitely worth your time.
No food? No water? No problem
Mad Max is set in a post-apocalyptic world and such a scenario clearly implies one thing – survival in this environment must be challenging. But apparently, it isn’t in the game. In terms of your health, you only need to worry about the damage inflicted by your enemies. The map does offer a generous supply of food and water, the sore point being that you’ll have to search for these resources scattered around the wasteland. What’s more, even if you choose not to consume any source of food (maggots, dog food) or water, it won’t deteriorate your health. They only act as an advantage when you’ve depleted your health after dealing damage and you’re looking for a quick health boost. Other than that, you can ride endlessly without using these resources and not worry about hunger or thirst. That seems like a missing game mechanic essential to the central idea behind the story.
Spoiling the party
Raiding enemy camps can be challenging at first just because you wouldn’t expect the next move but it’s more or less the same throughout the game. Snipers can spot you from a long distance and once you’re under their radar, they will start shooting and trust me, you wouldn’t want to get hit by these snipers. They deal a lot of damage and are tough to escape. If you’re caught in the open on foot you’ll probably be shot dead. The camps consist of War Criers whose only job is to encourage the war boys to rip you apart. It’s a good idea to start with killing the War Crier since they actually manage to buff up the war boys to deal more damage but it’s actually fun killing them at the end. While hanging helplessly after everyone in the camp has been killed, aiming at them invokes hilarious pleas coming from them to be spared for their life. [Editor’s note: time to put Dey to the Macdonald Triad test]. Camps will also display the difficulty rating and it is advised to penetrate them only when you’re equipped with full health and ammo.
While trying to take control over the camps, you’ll come across the scrap and when you’re done collecting all of it from the camp, you’ll be given a confirmation. This also applies to random locations with collectible scrap. During your first few attempts at plundering a camp, you might fail and shamefully die at the hands of the war boys. However, autosave is there to rescue your hard work. As you re-enter the camp, you’ll notice the war boys you had killed earlier aren’t there anymore. This is one feature which certainly proves to be a lifesaver, literally. Although, you need to travel inside the camp all over again, it sometimes is a pain due to the lack of the ability to climb ledges. You can only climb ladders and certain platforms but not the terrain in the wasteland.
The game is still boring
As I have already mentioned earlier, the game is indeed boring. The only motivation to play was to discover how the story unfolds. I was positive that I’ll finally get to know how exactly the apocalypse came to be and what actually happened to Max’s family. The end isn’t disappointing and holds a surprising plot twist, that’s enough to make you scratch your head. The reason for the game being boring is simply its repetitive nature. Vehicular combat is fresh and unique, but it’s the same affair each time. Later on, I was so bored with attacking with my vehicle that I used to get down and start off a brawl with the war party. Camp raids seemed exciting in the beginning but after a few tries, it became a drag to run around collecting scrap and fighting off the hordes of war boys.
Coming from the same developers who built the Just Cause games, the similar style of gameplay echoed throughout the story. I’ve completed Just Cause 2 a couple of times and Mad Max incorporates the same mechanics. Collecting loot or scrap from locations, liberating camps and even the sounds of the explosions have an uncanny resemblance, with Max echoing Rico’s actions. This is why I’m more piqued about playing Just Cause 3 to discover whether mechanics has been taken from Mad Max. Even after installing the available patches, frame rate drops were present while traversing through detailed terrain and when attacked by too many war boys.
Mad Max isn’t a bad game. If you’ve played a lot of open world games, you’ll be intrigued with the vehicular combat and the story. You won’t regret buying the game since it does surprise you with exploring a post-apocalyptic world dominated by warlords and your fight of survival amongst them. The vehicular combat is certainly entertaining and so are the camp raids. Upgrading your vehicle is interesting and fun just due to the sheer variety. Since the game requires a considerable amount of side missions to be completed in order to level up, you won’t be finishing the game in a single night. You are better off asking your friends to gift this game to you.
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Abhijit "BabuMoshaaye" Dey
This ape-descended life form believed that coming down from the trees was a bad idea until he was introduced to video games. Has spent endless hours playing Prince of Persia, Hitman, Assassin's Creed, Unreal Tournament, Half-Life and Left 4 Dead. This makes it three sentences, Half-Life 3 confirmed.