If ever there was a flawed gem to be singled out in this generation, it would have to be Mad Max. Sharply contrasting positive design aesthetics and the savage wasteland tone of the films, it simultaneously accomplishes so much but botches so many essential elements. As a result this makes for a positive if very uneven experience.
The game follows Max at his lowest moment, robbed of everything during his travels across the Plains of Silence. Ambushed by a group of War Boys led by Immortan Joe’s successor, Scabrous Scrotus, everything from his iconic car to his very clothes are taken from him. Surviving against all odds, he strikes up an alliance with a hunchbacked mechanic by the name of Chumbucket, both to achieve his revenge and build the greatest vehicle to ever traverse the wasteland.
Fans of the series will immediately be content to know that Avalanche Studios completely nailed the vehicular combat. Proving to be every bit as exciting, diverse and fast paced as you’d expect from the Just Cause developers, and everything involving them is damn near perfect. This is the antithesis of Ride to Hell’s utterly broken design, and jumping in and out of the car is smoother and far more entertaining than even the Batmobile elements in Arkham Knight. This is further backed up by a fantastic and dynamic modification system which allows you to completely remake your ride in an instant. Most importantly however, the wasteland is absolutely breath-taking in its scale, design and techno-barbarian beauty. You’ll not find a better designed or more vibrant post-apocalyptic world to roam around in any time this generation.
However, the game’s chief flaw unfortunately stems from several elements which detract from the open world environment. The most obvious among these is the quest system, which manages to rival Dying Light in its repetitive and oddly dull nature. This sadly goes hand in hand with a number of elements which turn the game into a relentless grind as you seek out scrap metal resources, bogging down the experience and sense of exploration. This might be fine if there was a real sense of accomplishment or survival in scavenging, but so often you’re just left banging your head against a brick wall. Combine that with a problematic health system, and you’re just left with a lot of missed opportunities.
Ultimately, how much you’ll enjoy Mad Max comes down to your play-style in open world environments. If you’re a mission focused individual then you’re going to lose out. If you’re someone who goes into Grand Theft Auto purely to muck about and go on rampages, give it a look but stick to the vehicles.
MAD MAX / DEVELOPER: AVALANCHE STUDIOS / PUBLISHER: WARNER BROS. INTERACTIVE ENTERTAINMENT/ PLATFORM: PC, PLAYSTATION 4, XBOX ONE / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW