Our review of Mad Max for Xbox One from a casual gamer.
Games & Software: Xbox One
This is a review of Mad Max on Xbox One from a casual gamer. For fans of the movie, note that the game version of Mad Max is really its own thing. It all takes place in the same type of universe but this game isn't based directly on the movie. Considering how most movie games go, this is a good thing.
BackgroundIf you're not familiar with Mad Max, the basic version of the story is pretty easy to explain. Max is a guy in a post apocalyptic world where water and food are scarce and everyone wants to kill him. The game opens with Max having his car stolen out from under him by bandits. He ends up in a fight with the head bandit who has the awesome name of Scabrous Scrotus.
Max and Scrotus duke it out and Max ends up putting a chainsaw in the cranium of Scrotus who somehow lives through it. Max is left for dead and now wants revenge. It's a little odd that Max is left for dead and not killed. But there you go, that's really all you need to know.
So you team with up with a hunchback named Chum Bucket (brilliant names in this game!). Chum is a mechanic who will build Max a new car and keep it tuned up. Chum is a handy guy to have around and you don't have any babysitting duties which is great.
GameplayThe game is a huge open world. It's beautifully detailed wasteland that you can drive across without any load times. Go in buildings or fortress and it's all perfectly seamless without loading things.
The game is balanced between driving and running around fighting. Combat takes place in your car and on foot. Car combat woks pretty well and has you bashing into other cars to destroy them. You can also use your trusty shotgun and the even more awesome harpoon. Yes, harpoon! This game is made by the folk that make the Just Cause series with its awesome grappling hook so you can imagine the harpoon works well.
In fact, when driving, the harpoon is the primary weapon of choice. You use it to pull down sniper towers, shoot it into bandits and drag them around, or harpoon parts of enemy cars and yank them apart. Using it is easy. Just hit LB to enter a super slow motion mode which initially auto aims but allows you to fine tune the aim as well.
The shotgun works exactly the same way when driving, slow motion included. The problem with the gun is that ammo is hard to come by so you tend to save the shotgun for emergencies. Many complain that there isn't enough ammo but it feels well balanced to me since this isn't a shooter.
On foot, the combat isn't as good. It's the same as any of the recent Batman games. So, basically it's a quick time event. Hit X to swing your fist and Y to dodge. Dodge and attack just right and you land a good hit. Keep going and combo the hits for bigger and better attacks. Boring normally, and difficult when there are more than 5 enemies attacking you. Get the last one and it goes into slow motion just like, you guessed it, Batman. I didn't like it in Batman and don't like it here. But, at least here I don't need to memorize 500 button combos! It's mostly just dodge and hit with a few power moves. I basically button mash and it works.
In both cases (driving and on foot) the controls feel a little odd. This is a driving game but the car doesn't handle well. It's probably more authentic to this world but less fun than it could be. To be fair, it does get better as you upgrade your car so it's not all bad. At least I can get used to the driving but the foot controls feel sloppy. It's often hard to latch onto ladders and other context sensitive objects.
What I can't stand is how I have to push and hold the A button for everything. Want to pick up that money, I mean scrap, then push and hold A then watch an animation of Max bending down. Repeat that thousands of times and it get old. Want to fuel up your car, push X and watch an animation. Want water, push A and watch and animation. Need to open that special crate, push A and then mash A to crack it open. Ugh. It's as if the developers didn't actually play this part of the game when they designed it. Who wants to see the same animation over and over again?
On that note, why can I just run over (or drive over) the scrap to pick it up? I blow up a car and now I have to stop mine to get out and collect scrap? That's not fun people. Not fun at all. Eventually you find yourself passing on scrap (aka, money) because you don't want to stop and get it.
The missions are kind of the same thing over and over. If you played Just Cause 2 you know how this goes. You're basically clearing areas of enemy threats. Each one looks different but is really the same. Clear out the small camps and then work your way up to the big boss in that area. Rinse. Repeat.
Toss in zillions of side missions and collectibles and there is something for everyone even if it's all very repetitive. And it is repetitive. But at the same time still lots and lots of fun. I like clearing out enemy camps one by one, but I enjoyed that in Just Cause 2 as well. I like leveling up Max and his ride (the Magnum Opus). It's mindless fun and that's okay, it works here even if I know it will get old at some point.
Graphics & AudioThe look of the world is excellent. The detail feels right, the dust, smoke, fire, and effects all look great. No real issues with the graphics. The lighting is a bit overdone in how washed out they make the world look, but it works.
Audio is good but you hear a lot of the same few noises over and over again. The Magnum Opus engine and exhaust make up 99% of the sounds you hear in the game, or so it seems to me. Repetitive comes to mind again but it's not a complaint.
Characters and their animations all look good but you can't help but feel like you're always fighting the same guy over and over again.
ConclusionI really am enjoying Mad Max. It's a fun, though mostly mindless, game. There is a story forced in somewhere but I skip it like I do in most games. I don't care why I need to go there and get that part, I'll just do it because I get to drive and blow stuff up along the way. I don't have enough time to get into a story here, I just want to play.
It's a game I can pick up and play for a few minutes or a few hours at a time. It gets very repetitive but one of the few games where that formula works. The controls could be better and enemy variety could be better. I also wish the game would just auto load my world when I fire it up. Why do I need to see title screens, confirm that I want my world loaded, etc. It's just my game, why can't you just load it automatically like GTA V does?
I like that I can upgrade my character and car, even if I don't like being locked out of some upgrades until I hit certain story missions. I don't think I'll be playing this game for more than a few weeks. In fact, it's basically filler until Fallout 4 and Just Cause 3 come out. Once those hit shelves I'll never touch Mad Max again. With that in mind, I don't think it's worth buying but certainly worth renting at least. I've read mostly negative reviews of Mad Max and I think those reviews have valid points but I also think it's far more fun than they're giving it credit for.
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