Seven Reasons I Actually Love Mad Max

Seven Reasons I Actually Love Mad Max

"You're the video game writer person," said one of my friends last night. "What do you think of Metal Gear Solid V?" I looked down at my Shadow Moses shirt, slightly embarrassed. "I haven't played it much," I confessed. "I've been spending most of my time with Mad Max."

Mad Max is not, strictly speaking, an amazing game. It's certainly not on the same level as The Greatest Stealth Action Game Of All Time: A Hideo Kojima Game And Don't You Goddamn Forget It. It's got harpoons, and cars grinding all up on each other, and a very angry man who gets even angrier the more he punches people. There is very little pretense; Max needs to get to a series of places, and he's gotta make his car better in order to do so. This leads to lots of scrap collecting and busywork. That's pretty much The Whole Thing. You may have heard some people say that it gets repetitive quickly. They are not wrong.

People have been arguing over whether Mad Max is A Good Game or A Bad Game. I posit the following: I don't give a snarf. It's hitting just the right spot for me at the moment, despite its flaws. Here are a few reasons I'm digging it so far:

The quiet moments

Mad Max is loud and dumb most of the time, but it's also prone to lulls in action, moments of thunderously bleak beauty. Chilly desert mornings where wind is a faint hint of a whisper and the sun can't decide if it wants to rise or finally call it quits and start dipping into its billions-of-years-old 401k.

Video courtesy of Corey Reeve.

Sometimes, a sandstorm will roll in and force me to seek shelter, something many have found annoying, but I actually kinda like. The storms are truly monstrous things; they make me — even as Max, wasteland murder machine extraordinaire — feel small. I can barely see, and all I can hear is furious howling. Such immense natural moments are rare in games. I choose to savour them. At least, until a giant chunk of soaring scrap metal wangs me in the head.

Physicality

Eventually, dudes in spiky cars show up, and I press buttons extra hard to clobber them. Catching their punches, pinning them up against walls and force-feeding them a hilarious number of knuckle sandwiches, ripping armour off their friends' cars with my harpoon — it's all so deliciously physical. It feels like I have to manhandle my controller, like anything else wouldn't be doing the fight scenes justice.

Seven Reasons I Actually Love Mad Max

That's the basic loop of most situations I've encountered so far: idyllic desert beauty — > dudes (either in cars or not) — > harpoon — > punches in bunches. Predictable? You betcha. Even similarly structured Warner Bros games like Shadow of Mordor and Batman: Arkham Knight had more going on. Right this second, though, I don't really want complication. Other things are complicated. Life is complicated. Work is complicated. Mad Max has become the milkshake that helps me wash down the day. It's a nice thing to have.

First-person view

Disclaimer: Mad Max: The Game very rarely feels like Mad Max: Fury Road. And truly, it's a case of wasted potential. Can you imagine a Mad Max game in the Uncharted mould — tight pacing and cinematic scripting with oppressively thick tension and subtlety to match? If only, if only.

But man, if you want to squint your eyes and pretend that's the game we got, try getting into a car battle and then switching into first person view. It is, to put it lightly, intense as hell. Look at this:

Video courtesy of QisforQadim.

It really does look like a scene from Fury Road, albeit completely un-scripted. Any time I sight cars on the horizon, I go first-person. I don't care if it puts me at a disadvantage. Being stuck in a screaming metal deathtrap, getting crushed on all sides and physically flinching each time a tiny tank pings off my scrap shell — it's a thrill. Maybe I'll tire of it in time, but not yet.

The stuff war criers say when they're all alone

War criers are Mad Max enemies that hang suspended in the center of enemy forts, giving grunt enemies a healthy dose of aural steroids. Usually, it's a good idea to take them down first — stop them from buffing everyone — lest enemies proceed to pummel you with their steam shovel fists. However, I like to keep war criers alive until everyone else is out cold, because a) it adds challenge and b) they say the silliest stuff when they're all alone. Case in point:

Video courtesy of TwoFiveFiveMike.

Desperation

I am, admittedly, only about seven hours into Mad Max, but so far the game has provided me with a sense of desperation that other murder-murder-death-kill open-world rampage games rarely match. Early game Max isn't a punishment sponge. A couple sniper shots or a few solid whacks will put him down for the count. On top of that, there's hardly any ammo anywhere, and Max's car — the vaunted Magnum Opus — is a total junker. As a result, I've ended up in situations where I've gotten surrounded by raider convoys, my survival far from a certainty. They bash my car to burning bits, and I have to leap out while my trusty sidekick, um, thing Chumbucket sets his gnarled hands at repairs. At this point, all I can do is frantically dodge while raiders whoop and howl, machines charging at me like bulls. It's terrifying, especially as cars catch my legs or torso, but don't quite run me over entirely, like this:

Seven Reasons I Actually Love Mad Max

If I survive, I get to take my revenge. With the Magnum Opus up and, er, belching again, I start ripping drivers out of their vehicles with my harpoon. Some flee. Sometimes I give chase. Other times, I just watch them run.

I've heard, however, that Max's situation becomes markedly less desperate as you upgrade the Magnum Opus and Max's own abilities, turning him from scrappy, Fury-Road-style nobody into video game hero badass du jour. That makes sense, but it also sounds like it will strip Mad Max of the parts I love, swap out the rusty rough edges for polished chrome.

For me personally, that's unfortunate. So I've taken to upgrading sparingly. Some upgrades are required, but I've found that I can rove around destroying increasingly tougher baddie bases — taking out their sniper towers, dismantling their defences inside and out — without making Max too powerful. It actually makes the game kinda hard! Picking apart each base smartly feels more Mad Max to me than slowly morphing into a demigod.

Every base presents itself as a unique challenge, forcing me to dig deep into my resources and get clever. One time I found myself completely overwhelmed by enemy numbers — bruised and bleeding, one solid shot away from death — so I ran outside the base to my car. I got in, fully prepared to flee, only to notice that everybody had followed me to their sand-strewn front porch. That's when I decided to go bowling. Revenge bowling.

Oh what I'd give for a good nemesis system to raise the stakes even more.

The sights

Seven Reasons I Actually Love Mad Max

Damn. The in-game photo mode is a nice touch, too.

When this happens

Seven Reasons I Actually Love Mad Max

Physics!


Comments

    You don't need to upgrade, you can happily downgrade your car and Max (except health bar) to the minimum level of survival you need. You can do this at any time.

    I love the way that I can get on, find an enemy camp or convoy and just play the game my own way at my own pace.

    I also like how the tougher, faster and stronger you make the car the worse it handles as all that weight comes at a price.

    Last edited 12/09/15 6:32 pm

      I actually find it great you can upgrade AND downgrade your car at will. Sometimes, seriously, I strip the car right back to see if I can improve my performance in the game without add-ons. Im at the point now I can take out whole convoys with just a harpoon and no add ons on the car. It's tough but its rewarding!

    Holy sh*t. Mad Max has a first person mode?! How did I not know about this earlier?

    I totally don't get the vitriol that some critics are throwing at this game. Yeah, granted, it's not setting the world on fire. It brings nothing really new to the table. The combat isn't as advanced or graceful as the Arkham series. The map is full of busy work. Whatever. It's a solid game that's a lot of fun and you can tell that Avalanche put a lot of effort into its production (especially with regards to the almost flawless PC port). I've already put 18 hours into it and I've only just reached the 3rd area. Besides which, I can't tell you how refreshing it is to play a game that isn't just totally full of American accents. The novelty of actually playing as an honest-to-god Australian character for once is awesome.

    People have been arguing over whether Mad Max is A Good Game or A Bad Game. I posit the following: I don’t give a snarf. It’s hitting just the right spot for me at the moment, despite its flaws.
    Much like Destiny really.

    Everything in this article!

    Yeah, I was a little surprised at how upgrading your car with what you wanted was actually better than the Archangel combos they offered. The speed ones were good but I wanted to survive a head-on collision as well. After I got the V8's, though ... GIDDYUP!!

    I'm playing this on pc while my son plays MGSV. I look over occasionally, shake my head and smile ruefully at the convoluted plot and characters, then go back to stomping on Cocka Locka's face! :)

    But, as I've said before: IT'S DINKI-DIE! NOT DINKI-DEE!!

    There's a first person view? WTF? I'll be trying that out for sure.

    But yeah, I really like this game for all reasons said.

    When I play games I often want to just have fun. This game does that.

    Loving the game on PC so far, I've put in... 16 hours, and it's a blast! Totally forgot about the first person view until you mentioned it, will have to try it out now and then.

    How the hell do you unlock FPV mode? I'm 50 hours in, and have utterly cleared the entire game of all its threats, and still had no idea this existed.

      If using PS4, XBONE or a controller on PC, tap down on the D-Pad twice. Not sure about keyboard controls though.

        Thanks!

        It's crazy - so many loading screens are giving me the same bullshit advice I've seen a thousand times... and never one mention of a FPV mode.

    As much as I love the combat, especially taking on those convoys with my harpoon, I just hate the endless grind for scrap, and assaulting oil camps on foot, they're really all the same so far, they feel so repetitive and it's become a bit of a chore. Last time I Played I had just broken through The Jaw and unlocked the new area, wondering if it's much different apart from difficulty. Also, what happens after you get the V8? Is that the end of the story?

    I still haven't purchased this game yet. MGS V has been taking up most of my free time. However, the way everyone is talking about it and all the comments here make me really want to add it to my list of games.

    I only bought the game yesterday but I've been really digging it! Sometimes it's just relaxing to play a game where it's just fun and doesn't take itself too seriously! I also didn't know there was an FPV!! That's definitely worth a try.

    Also the game has an audio option called Fury! Apparently it dials all the sound effects up to 11, any game that allows this is not a Bad Game!

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now