Back in 2008 John Carmack talked about his new game “RAGE” as the first action where the player doesn’t just ride in the car, but will feel connected to it, that it would become their second avatar, the new skin of metal. “RAGE” failed and for so many reasons. Yes, the game was pretty in places, even unique in some, but it was a hot dog without the filling. Well, 2015 is here, the game based on the film “Mad Max: Fury Road” is out, and I can say with certainty that this is the promised “RAGE”, which we deserved.
“Mad Max” was supposed to come out a long time ago, at the same time as the “Fury Road” film, but the shoot was frozen due to the fact that the filmmakers were constantly dragged to court. The game, respectively, also stalled and began to slow its development. The authors weren’t particularly upset, they have the flagship series “Just Cause”, which also required attention. This carried on for many years until, finally, the film was released. In the spring, the game was immediately rushed to be sold on the wave of enthusiasm. In autumn it came out right next to the release of “Metal Gear Solid 5”. That was a great decision. I hope you can just see the fine print, saying “SARCASM”.
So let’s see what is swimming in the crazy waters of “Mad Max”. This game is a typical sandbox by Avalanche Studios: more trip – less sense. We are soon released into the vast wasteland and our movements are hardly restrained. Here’s a car, here’s a gun, a shotgun, do what you want. Of course, to somehow get the players moving in the right direction on the big map, the authors sometimes throw plot jobs at them, but, frankly, it’s not the most exciting and interesting thing in the modern game development. Avalanche Studios don’t know how to work with stories and plot, don’t know how to fill their sandboxes with sense, they’re just doing daring gameplay on the vast locations. So their games survive.
The gameplay consists of two parts, which replace each other depending on the situation. The first is, of course, driving. Exploring wastelands in it is a lot nicer than it sounds, because this car can’t be destroyed (the hunchback mechanic hidden in the boot will begin to repair the car as soon as you stop). It has only one problem – the fuel runs out. Otherwise it’s just the perfect transport – upgrading it is more important than anything else. The tuning opportunities are great: from adjusting the height of the suspension and tread to installing a new engine and nitro-acceleration. In addition, the car can change its colour, hang protective spikes, bumper-ram, and an ornament for the hood, taken from a defeated enemy.
As long as Max is behind the wheel, the hunchback in the boot will be your hands and weapons. Through him, you can wield the harpoon (like in “Just Cause”) and the bazooka, if you need to destroy or explode something. However, you can exchange the car with the hunchback for another if you wish, which will have a dog companion. It acts as a mines detector and is needed for at least some variety in the tasks.
Variety is rather strained here. Clearing enemy camps and bases and searching for artifacts, racing challenges, destroying structures and snipers, and the aforementioned minefields. At first it seems like there are many points with these tasks on the map, and it’s great, but then you find out that every job is no different from the other, and the huge number becomes a bit intimidating.
In fact, the only way to somehow entertain yourself apart riding is to pick an enemy base and clean it up (and this is the second part of local gameplay). Bases tend to be ornate structures usually made up of old sheet metal, storage containers, and sometimes caves. There are many on the map, and the players are free to clear out any of them. If you do, you have to get out of the car then and throw some punches. A traditional combat system, which you no doubt have already seen in dozens of releases, from film-based games (“Watchman”, “Kick-Ass”) to expensive hits (“Assassin’s Creed”, “Batman: Arkham Asylum”, and so on). Punch, punch, punch, do a combo, dodge, block, counter-punch and punch again. But unlike most games you really have to look after your health – the gameplay doesn’t provide for health regeneration, even outside of combat.
Clearing bases, as well as searching for trophies, as well as riding the car and upgrading it might be too tiring. The story here is served in small doses, and very infrequently, the player is entirely by himself most of the time. Very soon the game becomes simply boring. The only people who will appreciate it are fans who go through every bush and look under every stone to complete all quests and trials in each sandbox-game. These players have a boundless expanse, because the space on the maps and the number of task-points is far greater than it usually is in such games. The exception is “Just Cause 2”, but there really was an incredibly huge map that had to be travelled by jet fighter.
So think about whether you need to spend more than fifty hours collecting useless digital stuff. For me, it’s a joy, it’s a challenge, but there aren’t many players like that. Films fans might also want to join the game. Of course, there is not so much madness, but it’s still quite fun to arrange tricks with harpoons and machines. In addition, the location here is the same as in the movie, and you can meet old friends – painted bandits and other groups and transports familiar from the film.
Still, as a game licensed by the film, “Mad Max” is too good to be true and also just much too late. The people who came out of the cinemas in the spring would have immediately run to buy the game from stores hoping to extend their enjoyment. And the emotions derived from the movie probably would have reinforced the impression from the game. Alas, such an effect would be rather difficult to achieve now, especially when other fall releases start to catch up with it. Once again, the franchise was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Good graphics and optimization
A large and diverse customization of the hero and his vehicle
A large map for madness
Virtually no story
Many similar and repetitive tasks
The game looks pale and uninspired against the background of the competition like “Just Cause 3”