Mad Max (PlayStation 4) Review

By Drew Hurley 20.09.2015

Review for Mad Max on PlayStation 4

A Mad Max open world game, the massive wastelands filled with roving bands of psychotic killers, skipping souped-up cars over the dunes, and then jumping out to take part in brutal hand-to-hand combat? All this in an expansive world filled with side activities to accomplish, from races to demolition derby style mini-games? The pitch alone for this movie-game tie-in sells itself. With the massively popular recent film reboot of the franchise, now is the perfect time to reintroduce the character to the world of gaming. His name is Max. His world is fire…and blood.

Whilst set in the Mad Max universe, this is a completely original story. There are still plenty of nods stylistically, and story elements pulled from both the original movies and the new movie reboot, but this is still very much its own animal. It was a wise choice to give the developers such freedom; far too many promising franchises have turned out to be terrible tie-in games. Instead, Avalanche Studios has used the Wastelands, the cars, the Warboys, Max himself and the team's imagination to craft a tale all their own.

The story begins with Max trying to escape the primary antagonist, one fantastically named Scabrous Scrotus, and his crew. Max is caught, his car taken and his body broken, but not all is lost. Max manages to lodge a chainsaw into Scrotus' head and even gain a companion by enlisting Scrotus' dog in a nice throwback to the second Mad Max movie. Shortly thereafter, he is also joined by Chumbucket, a highly skilled and deformed mechanic, or "Blackfinger." Chum sees Max as Saint of the Wasteland, and dedicates himself to building Max a new car, The Magnum Opus, a vehicle of power and destruction with which Max can take on the citadel of Gastown, where Scrotus rules. To build this car, the pair has to scour the Wasteland, gathering parts and building alliances, while avoiding the legions of marauders and Scrotus' Warboys.

Screenshot for Mad Max on PlayStation 4

The open world fits perfectly with the style and premise of the universe of Mad Max. There is a lot of fun to be had recklessly speeding over the destruction of the world, bouncing off rock outcroppings and jumping over canyons. It's enjoyable enough to spend tons of time just exploring and playing with the driving mechanics. The world is expansive and understandably sparse in parts. Considering the state of the world, there can be a fair distance between points of interest, and they're not always easy to find. Thankfully, a smart feature to deal with the desolate landscape is incorporated; there are hot air balloons that can be used as vantage points with binoculars to scout the territories.

Even with the desolation, between the enemy encampments and ruins, there is plenty of roaming warbands and convoys to battle, along with "Scarecrow" towers to destroy to ensure there aren't long stretches of driving with nothing to do. There are also plenty of driving-based mini-games scattered across the wastes to take part in, which really make the most of the driving mechanics and are worth revisiting again and again.

It's not just the driving and open world exploration that revels in the mayhem of the theme; each aspect of the gameplay is manic fun, and it's easy to recognise where much of the game's lineage comes from. Avalanche Studios is most well-known for the Just Cause series, and many of the best aspects of it have transitioned to Mad Max. Both Max and Rico Rodriguez make frequent and imaginative use of a grappling hook, for example. While Rico's is attached to his wrist, Max's is attached to his car and wielded by Chumbucket. This harpoon can be used to tear apart enemy encampments and vehicles, or to drag enemies themselves from their perches.

Screenshot for Mad Max on PlayStation 4

Max's car is as much the star of the game as Max himself - understandably so considering the amount of time devoted to driving across the Wasteland. Along with the harpoon, the Magnum Opus can also be upgraded and customised. There are the expected statistical upgrades of better tyres for more traction, bigger engines for faster cars, and better armour to take more damage, but also new weapons, such as a roof-mounted sniper rifle/cannon that deals ridiculous amounts of damage, and cosmetic upgrades to change the body, paint and hood ornaments. Along with the ability to fully customise the Magnum Opus, there is also special car configurations Chum can construct, known as Archangels, if the correct parts can be gathered for them. There is even a garage where Max can steal enemy vehicles and store them for later use.

Gathering car parts, along with a myriad of other items, is a fairly prominent part of Mad Max. There are many enemy bases and ruins scattered across the map for Max to plunder and scavenge, occasionally requiring a bit of death for the current inhabitants. The main things these locations usually contain are "Scrap," the currency used to purchase upgrades for both Max and the Magnum Opus. These locations each have a set of objectives, such as destroying fuel tanks or taking out a boss, along with side objectives, including gathering a set amount of Scrap or destroying symbols of Scrotus. Each also has the possibility of stumbling upon parts for upgrades to friendly strongholds, and "History Relics," collectibles that expand the lore on how the world ended up this way. Once a location is completed, it is repopulated with friendly NPCs who will reward Max with even more Scrap.

When outside of the Magnum Opus, mad Max utilises the tried and tested combat system most well remembered from the Batman: Arkham series, and recently used well in Shadows of Mordor, but sadly doesn't quite live up to what has come before it. The combat, in general, is fun, but quickly feels samey thanks to the lack of diversity; it at least looks satisfyingly visceral, with bone-breaking impacts and flinch-inducing moments. Max can throw punches, which chain into combos of quick successive hits, and highlight these with charge attacks that can counter, block or dodge the incoming blows of enemies, and can even make use of the environment to incapacitate the crazed war boys of the world. He also builds up a Fury meter by landing hits, which, when full, places Max in a devastating Fury mode where attacks hit harder and everything slightly slows down.

Screenshot for Mad Max on PlayStation 4

As progress is made, special skills are unlockable to assist in combat, but, sadly, they're all quite mundane, and while Max has a similar arsenal of moves to the Caped Crusader, he's lacking his wonderful toys. A shotgun and a shiv are added to Max's arsenal, along with various melee clubs, but it leaves a lot to be desired. Another of the biggest issues of the combat is the camera; it zooms in close to Max to show off some of the slow motion counters and visceral impacts, but in doing so ends up having the rest of the enemies disappear off the sides of the screen, making it impossible to see their incoming attacks.

Max has a "Legend" to live up to. There are various objectives that can be completed under a Legend tab in the game, and these are the sort of in-game accomplishments that most have come to expect from these sandbox-style games - performing different types of kills so many times, gathering a set amount of collectibles, taking over more and more areas of the Wasteland. Upon completion of each of these objectives, Max is rewarded with Griffa tokens, which can be traded with a mysterious stranger known as the "Grifter" who appears randomly in the Wasteland. When traded in, the tokens can be used to purchase upgrades for Max. These can be base stat improvements, like a larger health pool, increases to the amount of items Max can find when scavenging, and more.

Whilst Mad Max can be completed in around 20 to 30 hours, it's not a good idea to do so. It really needs further time invested to improve both Max and the Magnum Opus to make the endgame more enjoyable. There is a ton of content for those looking to achieve the Platinum and reach 100% completion - easily 80 to 100 hours. Although the open-world style thrives on this type of gameplay, some of these parts feel horribly grindy. Clearing all the minefields on the map and taking over all the enemy encampments, for example, are highly enjoyable and fun to experience each time... Clearing all 191 scavenging locations, however, can be terribly dull. Especially when these locations are often difficult to find, too, resulting in having to drive around and around to try and spot them.

Screenshot for Mad Max on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

There's a great, yet flawed, game here. The open world is a joy to explore, but grows tiresome for those who want to get 100% completion. Combat is fun and brutal, but not varied enough to stay interesting long term. These flaws are not enough to highly impact the end product, thankfully, which manages to be a superb open-world experience, with a real unique style and character. With such a rich world and history to draw from, hopefully the Road Warrior will return - ideally with a Thunderdome involved.




Warner Bros.





C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


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