Review by sirbenny

Reviewed: 09/28/15

The Wasteland is no fun

The freedom of the open road, the power of a V-8 Big Chief, the ability to shoot dudes in the face without repercussions. All these things should add up to a lot of fun tearing around harpooning whatever you want. Unfortunately, Avalanche has managed to make a game that also represents the awfulness of the fall of civilization.

There is none of the joy or creativity seen in the Just Cause series, there is only grimness and frustration and broken things (like controllers).

I played for maybe 20 hours before it overwhelmed me just how not fun this game can be. I enjoyed some of that time, or I wouldn't have kept playing, but the major flaws just became too hard to ignore. I got past the first stage of the game where I couldn't kill anything and the Opus burst into flames after every scratch. Where grunts beat me down without trouble. But like Max, I survived and persevered.

Eventually I made it to the Gastown race with a powerful Max and an upgraded Opus. And then I proceeded to die time after time after time. I understood WHAT to do, ignore the cars and thunderpoon the boss until he exploded. But the car was slow and uncontrollable, the boss was always out of range, and I was left bouncing off walls and making no progress.

But I made it past that too, even after swearing I was done with the game. Because I heard what came next was epic, I kept at it. (What came next was pretty cool, but not epic.) And not 30 minutes later I was without my tricked out car, made to drive all the way across the map in a junker, and caught in ANOTHER endless windstorm. And because this game only reinforces how bad things can get, I drove that car right into a concrete barrier, getting it stuck underneath and causing it to explode.

Max met his end on foot battered by debris and electrocuted by apocalypse lightning. Not exactly the heroic conclusion to the story I was hoping for. Perhaps a realistic ending, but not at all enjoyable, which is kind of the hope going into a Mad Max game. There's a lot this game gets right, but there's just too much that goes wrong.

The on foot combat is derivative and sometimes unresponsive at the worst times, but executed pretty well with satisfying impacts and brutal finishes. The car upgrading keeps the player invested and offers tons of possibilities. There are a ton of missions and sidequests alongside the main story which extends playability. And the writing is top notch. So true to the movies and the world. I really can't say enough about how immersive and well-done the script is. But the framework the game is built on seems to go out of its way to raise frustration.

Surviving the post-apocalypse is a matter of struggle and grit and pain. And unfortunately Mad Max the game represents that part all too well.

Rating: 4

Product Release: Mad Max (US, 09/01/15)

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