Mad Max, game review: Atmospheric world creates a unique gaming experience

There’s a lot to be said for a game that can hold your attention like this

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The Independent Tech

Set in the barren, dystopian wasteland of Australia, Mad Max sees the eponymous silent hero attempting to create the ultimate car - the Magnus Opus - in the hope of exacting revenge upon the war-lord Scabrous Scrotus.

That’s pretty much it for the story. After a jam packed first few moments you are left to wonder the wilderness for 30+ hours, searching for scrap - the in-game currency - and doing the odd quest, all to improve your vehicle.

It’s not Max’s story you engage with here, it’s the atmosphere. Every character is engrossed in wasteland lore; the landscape filled with burning monuments; desert storms come whirling in; marauders rule the world. Avalanche Studios have perfectly encapsulated the feeling of a post-apocalyptic world - perhaps even better than the films Max owes it all to.

There’s a lot to be said about a game that can hold your attention when the scenery is just rolling desert filled with only the occasional abandoned vehicle or lump of rocks. While it may be repetitive at times, there’s enough scattered loot holes and random enemy encounters to make sure you don’t zone out. In fact, it’s these ‘car battles' that set the game apart from spiritual predecessors Shadow of Mordor and Arkham Asylum.

Both those games have had a huge influence on Max, with hand-to-hand combat borrowing the same ‘mash square, counter with triangle’ system. Here, instead of offering you the choice to be stealthy, you are expected to charge in, guns blazing, while driving the Magnus Opus, using your hunchback associate to fire harpoons at other vehicles and sniper posts. I say guns blazing - you’re unlikely to have any ammo - meaning you have to plan ahead (even if just a little). This leads to some absolutely thrilling moments, especially when you and Chumbucket only have one shotgun round to finish off a convoy of five enemies while a deadly sandstorm quickly approaches.

There are moment when the frame rate can’t keep up with all the action. It’s not awful, but at times it can take you out of Max’s terrifying world. It’s a small price to pay for what is a unique gaming experience released at an unfortunate time where it must compete with the almighty Metal Gear Solid V.

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