Published Oct 09, 2015Mad Max: Fury Road was a rare revitalization of a decades-old franchise, a feat accomplished by making women and their agency drive the narrative. Mad Max the game is, unfortunately, not directly spun off from that film. This is an unusual statement to make, considering how movie-tied games tend to be terrible; it's hard to fault developers Avalanche for specifically requesting they not be forced to remake the movie.
But the thing is, a Furiosa-fuelled plot would have set this game apart from its many, male-dominated post-apocalyptic brethren. Plus, just imagine how angry the female-phobic Gamergaters would have gotten if it had dared to go beyond a few female characters in need of Max's aid.
On the other hand, this freedom from the film allows the game to be set in the cinematic universe while still setting its own course. Avalanche is best known for Just Cause, a second-tier open-world franchise that's underrated as far as its absurdist fun, but has yet to break any moulds in their tropical playgrounds. That continues to be the case here.
The plot is as minimalist as the desert setting. En route to the Plains of Silence, Max is run off the road by Scrotus and crew, and loses his iconic Interceptor car, but he soon hooks up with a cheerfully grotesque hunchback mechanic named Chumbucket who sees Max as a messianic figure in his automobile-based religion. The pair proceed to build and kit out a new vehicle, The Magnum Opus, in search of Max's original set of wheels.
The rest of the game is spent checking off boxes on the map, be it expanding your territory by taking over junk-built strongholds and destroying watch towers or busywork like scavenging scrap metal, gas, ammo and other sparse resources.
Fighting, meanwhile, includes both hand-to-hand combat inspired by the Arkham series' melee system and vehicular combat that trounces those boring Batmobile battles. Not surprisingly, the car combat is the primary place where Max stakes out its own ground — the high-speed chases across the expansive desert landscape are exhilarating, and the customizable car ensures everyone will have a unique experience based on their play preferences.
Like any licensed property, your interest will be proportional to your love of the source material. Anyone who has ever wanted to live out their Thunderdome fantasies will have little to complain about here as the world building is highly detailed for franchise super fans.
Mad Max should also appeal to gamers who like playing in wastelands. After all, it is a literal sandbox. So, while Mad Max is unlikely to be a real competitor with the rabidly anticipated Fallout 4, it still functions as a fine post-apocalyptic appetizer. (Avalanche Studios / Warner Bros. Interactive)