Reviews for the new Mad Max game have been extremely divisive. Many professional reviewers had serious complaints about the title, while user reviews have been overwhelmingly positive. Now that I’ve had some time to explore the wasteland in my super-charged death machine, I find myself somewhere in the middle.
Well, somewhat in the middle. I can definitely understand the complaints leveled by reviewers against the title. Despite that. I found Mad Max to be extremely entertaining, and am looking forward to playing more. I have to imagine that the game is suffering, at least in small part, from being compared to the incredible Fury Road, which isn’t exactly fair.
So what are the complaints? The big one is that many of the tasks in the game are repetitive. I have to agree here. You do end up doing the same sort of tasks over and over again. That said, the challenge and complexity of these tasks increases the further you get in the game. This helps to keep things fresh to a degree, although some of these tasks get old pretty quickly. Clearing out hostile camps is fun throughout the entire playtime, removing minefields is monotonous from the onset.
The other tipping factor is the fact that they work within the narrative of the game. Granted, Mad Max doesn’t exactly have the deepest story in the world, but it functions well enough. The game begins with Max getting attacked and robbed of everything by Scabborous Scrotus, the eldest son of Fury Road‘s Immortan Joe. In order to reclaim your car, you have to take down the warlord. To do that, you must first reduce his power over the various regions that make up the game map. Thus, the repetitive tasks of clearing out all of Scrotus’ minions and artifacts.
The story bookends the game, with the vast majority of game play in the middle left pretty open. A few reviews took issue with this, but to me it worked well. You have the overarching goal of taking down Scrotus and reclaiming your Interceptor, but you can get there at your own pace. Considering that this is an open world game with lots to explore, I didn’t mind taking lengthy breaks from the game’s narrative.
Exploring the wasteland is a ton of fun. Even though the entire game is set in a desert, it’s amazingly diverse and visually interesting. I was frequently amazed at just how beautiful the half-destroyed remains of civilization can be.
The game play itself is split between Max on foot, and Max behind the wheel. Both halves work very well, and compliment one another nicely. Vehicular combat is fast and kinetic, instantly reminding me of Mad Max: Fury Road, although the game lacks things like war rigs and motorcycles to truly diversify the car combat. Regardless, fighting in vehicles is a hell of a lot of fun.
Fights on foot in Mad Max are appropriately brutal and heavy. Hits and blocks feel like the carry significant weight, making the fights seem very cinematic. The combat is a bit simplistic, but it think it fits well for the title.
Beyond the combat, building up Max and his replacement car – the Magnum Opus – will take up a significant part of your time in the wasteland. You see, after being robbed and left for dead by Scrotus, Max happens upon a hunchback mechanic named Chumbucket. Chumbucket believes Max is some sort of angel, and he immediately sets about helping Max build a new car, accompanying him on his adventures, completing repairs, and operating the Opus’ various weapons and tools. While he occasionally gets repetitive, Chumbucket’s commentary is generally useful and amusing.
In the end, I have to agree with a lot of the reviewers’ complaints. The game is definitely heavy on repetition and a bit light on story. Thankfully, a beautiful environment, interesting vehicle customization system, and visceral combat kept Mad Max entertaining for me for hours. I hope they do some DLC for this game to include motorcycles, and anything else to add more variety to things.