This summer’s movie blockbuster Mad Max was met with a mixed opinion and with the promise of a ‘sort-of’ movie tie-in video game, it was probably justified to be slightly cautious. Mad Max however is not likened to one particular movie, but rather the entire franchise. It draws upon elements from all the movies and creates a completely brand new open-world title.

Max is plunged into a post-apocalyptic world, torn apart by a world fuelled by oil and scrap. Between each settlement are well-armed vehicles controlled by various factions, gathering scrap and fuel within their camps. Max is on the road for revenge, aiming to take down each camp and faction leader one-by-one and bring harmony to the land once again.

Mad Max boot to the face
A boot to the face!

The game is largely controlled by an economy system known as scrap, whereby you collect this from ruined vehicles, derelict areas or sometimes a sand storm will blow something your way. Scrap allows you to upgrade Max and his main vehicle, the Magnum Opus, which is essential if you want to survive in the dust land. There’s also additional upgrades granted from a mysterious feral survivor, who can be found watching over the wasteland from cliff tops. As you gain more levels, you’ll be able to upgrade Max’s abilities such as his maximum health and damage dealt with melee weapons.

The open-world environment serves as a haven for Max, as there are lots of enemy camps and points of interest to explore on your adventure. Mix that in with the random occurrence of enemy vehicle encounters and sand storms and you’ve got yourself some fantastic dynamic gameplay. Not only is the world designed well, it also looks beautiful, with the sand blowing in the air, right through to the sun setting in the horizon. It’s no wonder they granted us a director mode to remove the HUD and take screenshots at any time during the game.

I’d definitely recommend taking a hot air balloon to scout the surrounding area too, not only does it show you threats nearby, but it also gives you the chance to escape from the danger and take in the beauty of the landscape for a short moment.

Mad Max driving
Your new best friend.

The storyline itself is all about revenge and I have to say the pacing felt a little off at times. There were moments halfway through when you expected things to pick up, only to be told to go to the camp and rescue someone – and that for me threw my experience off a bit. I wasn’t expecting all action, but when it picks up I expect momentum to carry it forward, sadly it didn’t though.

Driving on the roads always feel dangerous in Mad Max and that’s partly due to the presence of dynamic enemy convoys. Since the title has a heavy focus on vehicular combat, Avalanche Studios had the challenge of getting the balance right. Especially when you look at Just Cause 2, which hardly contains any of this. When an enemy vehicle bashes into the side of you, you’ll go reeling off the side and feel the impact through your controller. It felt very meaty and that’s exactly what you want from a game such as this.

Your dream vehicle is the Magnum Opus, an upgradeable piece of kit with the ability to rear any vehicle off the road. Using scrap you gather on the way, you’ll be able to upgrade various parts on the car from the front bumper to the rims on your wheels, right through to the colour and decals on your car. There’s a nice scope for customisation in terms of vehicles, especially as you can choose which vehicle you want to drive in the wasteland with, whilst also being able to steal enemy vehicles and return them back to your stronghold for use.

Even though I often went in with the loud approach, there’s also the opportunity to plan your attacks on enemy bases a bit more carefully. By taking down traps first such as incendiary towers and sniper nests, you can spend less time rushing into the base and look for a secret way in. There might be a pipeline you can enter through round the back, giving you a more stealthy approach to cause some havoc, so careful planning is sometimes beneficial.

Mad Max beautiful
So beautiful!

When you’re not inside your vehicle, you’ll be on foot doing some hand-on-hand combat, which has a Batman: Arkham Knight feel to it – as Y counters and you can then instantly reply back with a knockout blow. The more successful hits you land without taking damage also builds up a fury chain, which helps you to do more damage and finish off a group of enemies quicker than normal – so there’s an emphasis on timing your counters right, as well as dodging incoming attacks if you can’t block them.

As you take over enemy camps you’ll also unlock them as outposts, which will generate you more scrap over time. There’s also your main stronghold, which can be upgraded with project parts found scattered in hidden locations. These will grant you bonuses such as a water refill station or a refill of your ammo belt every time you return. I guess you could say Mad Max involves a lot of collecting in the form of scrap, relics, cars and project parts, but it’s nicely spread out and you don’t really have to collect everything apart from scrap really.

In terms of voice-acting, I wasn’t actually that impressed by the voice of Max himself, but the stand-out performance has to come from the unusual Chumbucket – watch how you pronounce that one. His crazy yelling during a sandstorm and when enemies are attacking you, often leave you with a snigger and it was a pleasure to have such a comical companion on your travels throughout the post-apocalyptic land.

Mad Max was a real pleasure to play and I’m delighted Avalanche Studios took on the challenge of vehicular combat because I think they’re pulled it off really well. I find it very hard to point out anything bad about Mad Max, other than the pacing of the storyline perhaps, but other than that it’s a great title to play and most importantly it felt like it was set in a Mad Max world.

Complete Xbox recommended game.

Pros

  • Pays great homage to the Mad Max franchise
  • Brilliant voice-acting by Chumbucket
  • Vehicular combat was very enjoyable

Cons

  • The pacing of the storyline felt a bit slow at times

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