Mad Max Game Review: Is it Worth Playing?
Mad Max actually came about thanks to a movie series starring Mel Gibson that ran between 1979 & 1985. After years of hardcore fans crossing their fingers, a new movie was finally released starring Tom Hardy in 2015. Running alongside this, Mad Max: The Game became a reality. Now, onto the game’s story.
Mad Max: The Game follows the adventures of a man whose life has fallen apart. The game is set in a dystopian future with no sign of forests or trees, essentially a perpetual desert. All Max wants to do is drive off into the wasteland to face his inner demons. Long story short, the primary antagonist’s war party beats up Max and steals his car, making your objective simple: Kill everyone and get your car back. You quickly run into an odd little homunculus who believes in some sort of car religion and thinks you’re the chosen one. Over time he helps you build a new car, find out what happened to your old one, and chase down the primary antagonist.
An utter wasteland with nothing but death and carnage
This story is very appropriate and true to some of the misadventures Max goes through in the movies. Any diehard fan would likely scream 10 out of 10!!! For anyone else, it might feel a little lacking. You have to play for a while before it is shown that anything else about Max is emotionally gripping.
It’s hard to identify with him, which is fine for feeling like a badass that kills things, but not necessarily for wanting an emotional connection to your character’s plight. That being said, it offers what it promises and stays true to the series, so I give the story an 8 out of 10.
Story Score: 8/10
Gorgeous cinematic effects are a highlight of Mad Max
Coinciding with such a beautiful movie release, I felt this game had some big shoes to fill. It lives up to the challenge but suffers from some of the same shortcomings that the story does. Of course the cinemas are beautiful, smooth, and all sorts of explosive, but it’s hard for them to surprise you. Max will never suddenly be walking around a lake talking to his therapist as you would want for the poor guy. Max will always be gritty & hardcore, he will always be angry about something, and it will always be in some desert wasteland.
With all of that out of the way, the cinematics were action-packed and definitely showed a few people being brutally killed. Couple that with their graphic beauty and I would still land Cinematics at a 7 out of 10.
Cinematics Score: 7/10
Now we move onto some of the actual gameplay. When it comes to talking about the adventure experience, you can no longer hold the Wasteland against the game’s value. Mad Max promises car combat, a host of interesting NPCs, and a reasonable amount of variation in the world around you. Even though everything is set in a desert of sorts, there are plenty of twists and turns along your way that make this an incredibly fun.
Race through the barren wastelands
The car combat is driven by a strong customization system or beefing up your ride however you like. You can be fast and have a murderous grill, or be slow and armored up, with a lot of variation in between. It helps that your mutant friend sits in the back firing secondary weapons while you drive. The implementation of that side character to add story and depth to the car combat was a stroke of genius.
A wrenched up car -- all the better to destroy your enemies with
Moving onto melee there is a broad challenge system. This includes everything from jumping epic ramps in a storm to executing people with a shiv. Completing these challenges increases your reputation and unlocks more personal customization for Max. This goes from cosmetically changing your beard length to having a better shotgun for blowing people away.
On top of all of this, increasing your reputation awards you tokens. You can take these collected tokens to a mysterious seer that’s hanging around somewhere in each zone to upgrade Max’s abilities. This includes gasoline lasting longer in your car, having more hit points, finding more ammunition and several other options to choose from.
What’s great is the ability to complete a lot of these challenges on the go through normal combat, which means you can upgrade Max a great deal without having to deter from the story. For all these reasons and the true entertainment this game created on my play-through, I give the adventure portion a 10 out of 10.
Adventure Score: 10/10
The mission system is difficult to go into without feeling a little biased. Like most other games in this genre, some of the quests feel a little mundane. The game was nice enough to add a fast travel system (luckily your car goes with you). You will still find yourself feeling like an errand boy for some of the shriveled up humans that you help out. Though some of them side quests feel a little bothersome, most of it sticks to the script of being a quick way to help Max beef up himself or his car so he can move onto to breaking the next baddies neck.
I personally enjoyed some of the car integration into missions, where your mutant sidekick would tell tales of where to find the next grappling hook so you can tear a great gate down (that was actually a thing). This helps the car feel like a party member or an extension of your character and prevents the questing from being too 1-dimensional. Most of the missions involve doing someone a favor as they put a giant roadblock in front of your progression, but there are a lot of side missions you can complete as well.
Race against big enemies and fight your way through Hell
My primary frustration with the mission system, was gauging which side missions were relevant. A lot of your car parts require missions to be completed before purchasing, and the game is nice enough to tell you what mission you’re missing to get the biggest rims, but sometimes that isn’t enough. You find situations where you don’t realize a very mundane side-mission will end up getting you the most overpowered car weapon in the game. This happens because several sequential-side missions are required before you actually see the name of the mission the harpoon gun needs you to complete (I love the harpoon gun). Maybe I’m not the best judge of missions as they are so hit or miss in open-world games, but I’d still say this category lands a 7 out of 10.
Missions Score: 7/10
Beautiful, deadly environments
As far as the environment is concerned, it’s about 90% wasteland. That’s not to say that it’s dull or poorly conceived. Again, this is all about appropriate expectations, and Mad Max promises a barren post-apocalyptic world. I like some of the variety they were able to conceive. You start in an area that used to be an ocean, so you’re essentially going through the remains of ships on a barren sea floor. From there you visit canyons, deserts, and even torn up towns.
All things considered, they did the best they could with the subject matter they were expected to cover, and even had plenty of underground sections to mix things up. The gigantic underground airport was particularly interesting. It hit the nail on the head of what it was supposed to accomplish, but that doesn’t make it appealing to everyone. I’ll safely say 8 out of 10.
World Score: 8/10
Fisticuffs provide endless fun and excitement
The combat is amazing any way that you slice. You have a variety of weapons at your disposal, inside or outside your vehicle. While driving around you can blow out tires, gas tanks, and faces with the shotgun, hop in the back to use your sniper rifle, or ram the life out of other vehicles with your killer grill. While in melee there is zero temptation to use your gun because of how fast-paced and entertaining it is to fight hand to hand.
As you get on a roll you automatically slip into fury mode and can seamlessly add finishing moves into your rotation. This can range from breaking someone’s arm, to body slamming them, all the way over to stealing one of their shivs and stabbing them in the spine with it. As far as I’m concerned, the combat knocks it out of the park and is a 10 out of 10.
Combat Score: 10/10
I didn’t expect much of the audio which might be why I was so impressed with it. Even sitting on the pause menu creates a feeling of dread and despair with the mellow tones they used. The This level of quality carries over to the sound effects as well. The only thing more satisfying than the realistic snapping of a raider’s arm is the sound of your car ramming something to pieces. Also, they nailed it on Max’s gruff voice as well as the insanity you can hear from your enemies. Easily another 10 out of 10.
Audio Score: 10/10
This is another portion of the game where I felt torn. It’s so far in the direction of apocalypse that it doesn’t make sense for a typical gamer to able to 100% appreciate it the way a hardcore fan of the movies might. I enjoy the movies but only saw each of them once or twice. With that in mind, the NPCs do a great job of creating a sense of struggle and despair.
In each of the large regions, there is a camp that you can help grow & expand. Your reward is getting free food, water, ammo, and other amenities every time you return. While you’re out in the world you can locate the parts to expand these encampments, which physically change as they’re upgraded. I found some added entertainment in the OCD sector of my brain seeing these pathetic camps start to thrive and even bring in more ragged but friendly survivors.
The War Boys, a militia of maniacs for a settlement leader
I think I only really lost my patience when it came to the random encounters. All over the world there were NPCs that would be marked on your map if you were close enough to them. Most of them time all they did was say something like “I thought you were going to kill me, take some of this loot” or “I’ve heard about the good things you’ve been doing”. Under the second scenario you still just get some random scrap (the game’s currency). It breaks some of your immersion when their dialogue can sometimes be random or completely unrelated to handing you half of the loot they’re digging up, then you suddenly have more scrap for no reason.
There are also folks wandering around requesting water that you can help for the sake of being a good guy and to complete one of the challenges. Aside from that, the random NPCs in the world feel really pointless. One exception is that some of them will tell you about the weaknesses of camps you’re about to face, which is sincerely helpful. The bad guys come in a very wide variety across a few factions (though the leaders have a bit of Copy+Paste in their appearance). All in all, I enjoyed most of the dialogue, look, and feel of the NPCs.
NPC Score: 8/10
Mad Max has some amazing graphics that were definitely AAA material when the game was released. The amount of different angry faces he makes through the game alone would be enough to impress you, but I suppose there are other factors. All of the different environments have been meticulously crafted to convey a consistent theme of destruction and despair.
To take it a step further I should mention the storms. You will randomly find dust storms occurring during your adventure and will see a large “STORM APPROACHING, TAKE COVER” on the middle of the screen. If you happen to stick around, you’ll see the height of this game’s beautiful environmental effects. It’s astounding to see the way the physics engine tosses around cars & crates of loot and even more amazing to see how well-constructed the dust and lightning are as they rip you to shreds. Once the warning pops up you can even see the dark clouds rapidly approaching over the horizon. There is a great amount of detail in how hard they worked on the environment.
Fight for your life
Moving onto Max & the other humanoids, I was equally satisfied. Some of the more mutinous looking creatures, such as your sidekick Chumbucket, were rendered with enough weirdness to make you cringe every time you see them. All of the humanoids being so expertly crafted combined with the melee combat system made for a visceral and very immersive experience. Every broken bone and shiv to the eye will raise your heartrate a few BPM higher thanks to how awesome the graphics make everything feel. Easily a 10 out of 10.
Graphics Score: 10/10
Tons of hours of gameplay traversing the hardcore world of Mad Max
At the time of writing this, Mad Max is priced at $49.00 on Steam. I don’t have a single complaint about this price as it worked hard to prove that it’s worth every penny. According to Steam, it took me 99 hours to finish every bit of content. So if every dollar I spent bought me 2 hours of racing, exploding, and ass-kicking fun then Mad Max was a very smart buy.
Price Score: 10/10
Final Verdict – 8.8 out of 10