A big Max Payne fan, Patrick Streutjens started writing news and articles for PayneReactor in 2003. After the retirement of the site’s founder (Kristian Hollund) he’s the current owner, designer and sole writer of PayneReactor. Streutjens was born on the 4th of September in 1991 and has a career at computer manufacturer MSI as an International Marketing and Communication officer.
The Mad Max franchise has been around for a long time. Even longer then I myself have walked on earth. If you’re around my age, chances are high you might not have even heard of the franchise before. However, the Mad Max franchise was re-invigorated with the release of this year’s box office hit Fury Road and the recently released Mad Max videogame. Now, you’re wondering if this game is any good since the movie received critical acclaim?
Mad Max is one of the first game in the rain of AAA releases that is about to descend on us. I’ve seen some gameplay of Mad Max on a behind closed doors event on this year’s gamescom and thought the game looked great. I wasn’t able to play the game yet though. It might be important to add that I already liked the franchise even before the game’s release. Notwithstanding, if you’re into post-apocalyptic games (like Fallout), this game was made for you too. Let me tell you all about it!
“This is not Fury Road: The Game”
Let me get something straight out of the way as well: Mad Max the game is not based on Fury Road. Nor does it star Tom Hardy as Max Rockatansky or Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa. In fact, the game has very little in common with the movie at all apart from some lore tie-ins. This is actually a good thing. While the game seems to take place in the same “universe” as Fury Road, it tells a unique and compelling story of its own.
Max, a loner, on the run from himself and the past. His confused mind has constructed a mythical place which he refers to as the “Plains of Silence”. There he is convinced to find peace. To reach this place Max depends on his old car, the Interceptor or “Black on Black”. Trough unfortunate events however, the car is stolen from him and reduced to scrap. To make things more complicated, Max pissed off a Warlord in the process, who is now out to kill Max. Max must build himself a new car, better and faster than the Black on Black. Early in the adventure he crosses paths with Chumbucket, a bizarre wasteland mechanic who believes Max to be his “warrior saint” sent to him to complete the ultimate vehicle called the “Magnum Opus”. Max, in dire need of a new car, couldn’t be luckier. But danger is lurking in the shadows.
As crazy as the plot may sound it works surprisingly well. While Max never seems to fully trust Chumbucket, the two form an inseparable bond. As a player, I considered him my buddy and with his funny way of speaking he’s never a drag to have around. A good thing since he’ll accompany you whenever you take your car out for a spin. Chumbucket will warn the player on imminent danger or treasures hidden in the wasteland. While Max takes care of the driving, Chumbucket will shoot at enemies and repair the Magnum Opus when damaged. Controlling the car and shooting at the same time actually works and is nothing like the way it’s implemented in Far Cry 4. The game, however, does rely on auto-aim to shoot while driving to work properly.
“The greatest survival vehicle ever built”
Max might be the main protagonist of the game, but it’s actually the Magnum Opus that steals the show. The game has but one goal: Go out there and get scrap to upgrade your car. How you want to do this is entirely up to you. Customization options for the Magnum Opus are endless and each upgrade requires a specific task to be completed for it to unlock. While many reviewers have stated that the game becomes very repetitive (which is somewhat true) it never became boring because I always had the feeling that completing said objectives would help me reach new areas or become stronger. You’ll quickly become obsessed with upgrading the car the same way Max is ingame.
All voice actors in the game are Australian and the soundtrack is very dreamy and dark which really helps getting into that Mad Max vibe the movies are known for. The wasteland in which the game takes place is a vast, open space. It’s divided in a few territories and each territory has a own unique feel. This way the developers made sure that even a desert can be an interesting place. There were more than enough times when I just stopped playing and enjoyed the incredible vistas and color palette this game will shove in your face. For example: Gastown, the grotesque oil refinery and main to reach destination, is always looming in the background. Reminding you of the danger that is to come. Max also reminiscences on the past or certain events in the world from time to time. That really adds some sort of history to the places you visit, like each place has its own story.
You’ll be able to not only upgrade the Magnum Opus but also Max himself. For example, Max starts the game in a dirty shirt but you’ll be able to upgrade to Max’s iconic black outfit. If you keep progressing, Max will start to look like a modern armored soldier, ammo belts included. This makes him look different than the Max you know and love, which is kind of a bummer. You could always unequipped said armor though, but you’ll lose the stats that come with it.
“Mad Max: The Arkham Wasteland”
Mad Max’s combat elements are shamelessly ripped off from the Batman Arkham franchise. This is not bad per se since it’s a good fighting system. The only thing that bugged me is that Max easily punches and parries trough every fight and there’s no option for the player to increase the difficulty level. This might be caused because I spent a good time farming scrap and I maxed out Max’s combat abilities relatively fast and early in the game. Still, an option to increase the difficulty would be a welcome addition in a future update. You could increase the difficulty by un-equipping upgrades, but that makes no sense. Come to think of it, apart from the rich ambience some other games might lack, Mad Max doesn’t innovate at something at all. It doesn’t bring anything new to the table really.
Mad Max is available for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC. I’ve played the game for about forty hours on PlayStation 4 to write this review. This review also appeared on PayneReactor. The screenshots included in this article are property of PayneReactor. Please ask the permission of the author if you’d like to use them for something yourself. Have you played Mad Max? Feel free to write down your findings in the comments!