Video Game Review: Mad Max

Details: Played through the game for about thirty-three hours. More information can be found at https://avalanchestudios.com/games/mad-max

Score: 7/10

Mad Max is about as formulaic an open world game as any other. It doesn’t innovate within the genre at all and just regurgitates what already exists. With that said, it does a good job using this genre as a vehicle for a Mad Max story and a world that successfully emulates the feeling you’d get from a Mad Max movie.

Like with all Mad Max movies, the story takes place in an apocalyptic wasteland where everyone has lost their minds. In this world, the oceans have dried up and the world has become a vast desert, with commodities like water and, more importantly, gasoline becoming extremely valuable. Cars are also valuable commodities and the new, post apocalyptic culture focuses on the worship of vehicles.

The protagonist of this story is a lone wanderer who drives alone in his signature car. When his car gets stolen, it’s up to Max to murder his way through everyone he meets in order to get it back.

The story is mostly simple and straightforward. While I spent tens of hours playing through the game, actual story related portions probably took less than ten hours. The story itself isn’t bad. If you’ve ever seen a Mad Max movie, you’ll know what your in for. This is an insane, car centered world where everyone is trying to kill you. The story is equally odd, not in terms of plot, but in terms of atmosphere and the tone of the world.

The gameplay is standard open world genre. That means that there is big map that you can explore. Littered throughout the map are activities and items to collect. In a good open world game, you have a gameplay loop where you do an activity and that activity ideally powers you up, giving a sense of progress. That’s present here in the form of “scrap,” the currency of this world. Almost every activity you do will give you scrap to purchase upgrades and power ups or just unlock upgrades for you.

Most of these activities are really repetitive and do not consist of any narrative component. The basic gameplay loops is go do some activities or collect stuff, then purchase and upgrade that makes you stronger, then do it all over again.

Gameplay consists of two main parts: driving combat and hand-to-hand combat. Driving is a large part of the game and a lot of the game requires you to fight cars while driving your own car. To do so, you can shoot your shotgun while driving, fire a harpoon, fire rockets or just ram them. There’s a lot of upgrades you can give your car, so car combat get more fun as you progress.

Hand-to-hand combat is basically a copy and paste of the combat from the Batman: Arkham franchise. I feel like a lot of games just stole that gameplay style and just put it in their own game. It’s a fun game play style and in my opinion, the Batman: Arkham combat and the Dark Souls combat are the two most influential and most copied forms of video game combat that currently exist. The Batman: Arkham form of combat is basically just hitting someone with a button press and timing counters or special moves when prompted to do so be enemies. It’s sort of a combination of old, beat ’em up games and quick time events. What makes this form of gameplay so fun though is that the Batman: Arkham games figured out the timing and perfected it into a really fun gameplay mechanic. All that is to just to say that the hand-to-hand combat in this game is fun.

Visually, the game is pretty dull to look at. It’s a post apocalyptic wasteland, a setting that has been done by video games over and over again. There is some variation here and that was enough to keep me engaged. I still wish there were some more colors or something, but I know that is impossible for a game about Mad Max. A game from this franchise need to take place in a drab desert.

Overall, I enjoyed the game, but that is mostly because I enjoy open world games and was in the mood for the repetitive, dopamine granting gameplay loop that formulaic open world games grant me. Now that I’ve beaten this game, I’m not going to be in the mood for another open world game for a long time. This was fun, but unquestionably repetitive and drab.

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