It’s hard to really put a label on what I thought of Avalanche’s attempt at making a Mad Max game. It’s as though all the pieces to make a good Mad Max game are there but it doesn’t add up to make a game that’s worthy of the character and franchise. What we end up getting is a hybrid of Shadow of Mordor and Rage but nothing really original or gripping enough to endure the tale of Max. We still haven’t found the worthy adaptation for Max, but that’s not to say there aren’t some good ideas at play.
The biggest issue for me is that our Max isn’t Mad Max. He doesn’t appear like Mel Gibson or Tom Hardy, rather a generic bearded man. That may seem like a petty complaint, but nothing strikes me as unique about the character’s model. The voice actor doesn’t help either and doesn’t put any personality into the iconic role that he’s portraying. While Max is more of an abyssal character, he’s still got substance, and this Max talks too much even for my liking. The narrative is told through a deformed mechanic named Chum Bucket that looks suspiciously similar to Gollum from The Lord of the Rings. Chum Bucket’s dialogue just praises the lifeless Max and informs him of his next duties. Without spoiling too much this just continues for a while and there’s a part with a dog that you meet and save at the beginning which is a nice touch. Too bad he’s possibly incinerated in an explosion and after ten or more missions the characters say, “Hey do you think that dog’s still alive?”
The game does however look gorgeous and gives the player a wide morose land to traverse. This feels more in tune with the Mad Max universe and having some encounters with the occasional War Boy or rival faction feels intense and invigorating, just like how Mad Max should feel. How you travel is important, and boy is your car a marvel of all things. Shooting out an opponent’s gas tank while driving, harpooning a rival driver out of their car as they pursue you – this is what the game does right. The overall sense of anarchy and the chase is perfected and is definitely a strong point of the game.
Some missions are enjoyable. Combat is very similar to Shadow of Mordor or the Batman Arkham series. The counter attack button feels very sluggish though and it’s not like you have a lock on to enemies when you’re combating them. There are issues with the gameplay that just speak to me like WB wanted this game to be the Shadow of Mordor for them for 2015 and it just doesn’t work. With that even the car drives sluggish as well. It is interesting to see Max drift from one stronghold to the next, but even the encounters with the people there just seem dull or uninteresting.
At the end of the day, Mad Max The Game works out pretty well as being a standard game. It works, nothing is completely broken, and it’s playable. That’s not good enough. In an industry where innovation is key and flourishing, Mad Max seems like a rushed product with no soul that connects it to the wonderful films it gets its lore from. It’s a passable game but I can’t really recommend it to the fans of the series because they’ll be disappointed like I was. It’s definitely worth a rent if you’re interested in entering that world, but nowhere near worth the price of a full game.