Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Mad Max (PC) Review

Mad Max is a third person, open world, action game developed by Avalanche Studios (the studio behind the excellent Just Cause series), and published by Warner Bros. (Batman,  series). 

Mad Max incorporates a lot of open world staples. The developers have their own take on the tower climbing mechanic, where towers are now replaced by hot air balloons, which reveal the activities on a certain section of the map. There are plenty of markers on the map, and tons of different kind of side quests that will keep players busy, especially those determined to complete each area. 

Some consider this to be a lot of gameplay padding, and there are things the game does where this criticism is justified. There are times when I absolutely felt that the combat, and the bases are getting repetitive. However, by and large, the game manages to be entertaining. 

The part that I felt was rather boring is the leveling up mechanic for Max, that they felt was needed. To begin with, it is not possible to just access a menu and level up your character. You need to drive to a random location, and talk to a certain person to be able to level up. This is very tedious. The leveling up itself grants abilities that make very little sense. For example, there is a skill that will make the Magnum Opus consume less fuel. Shouldn't this be an upgrade for the car? Anyhow, I thought these skills were poorly implemented.

Another aspect that I did not enjoy was the lack of inventory. It is not possible to carry melee weapons outside of combat. This means that Max needs to find a weapon each time before a fight, and he will promptly drop it on the ground when getting into the car after the fight is over. Also, the durability of melee weapons (like clubs, shovels etc.) is a skill. How does Max have any control over how durable a random object in the world is? Your guess is as good as mine.

Lack of an inventory also means that you can't carry food, and you have to scavenge for it in the game world. Anytime the player interacts with a can of food, Max drops the melee weapon he is holding. After the animation is done, you will have to pick up the melee weapon again. This is an extremely annoying mechanic.

The controls are a little weird. There is a separate button (E) to interact with objects in the game world, but a completely different button (R) to get into vehicles, and an entirely different button (F) to fuel the car. All these could have been consolidated to a single button based on the context. The character also is a little sluggish to control. Unlike Just Cause and Batman, there is a perceptible lag between activating an action, and the character responding to it. This is not game breaking, but its very noticeable.

Combat is very much like Batman. I dont mind it, but it essentially boils down to mashing the attack button (LMB), and hitting the parry button (RMB) at the right time. The sluggish controls do impact the combat somewhat, but it is still fun for the most part. It does get frustrating when the game decides to throw a wave of enemies at the player in an enclosed area. At this point, the camera gets into really bad angles which can get the player killed. 

Driving is a lot fun, and the cars handle really well for the most part. The wide open world is a lot of fun to drive in. Desert world could have been very bland, but the designers managed to make it unique and also traversing the world in the vehicle is still fun. There is a lot of freedom to be had here in each area, and plenty of activities like freeing enemy strongholds, destroying convoys etc.

The story is interesting enough. I liked the characters, but other than Chumbucket, there is nothing unique here. Its all rather predictable, but not to the point where I found the story boring. There are certain story missions that get frustrating, but by and large the pacing was good.

Some of the side quests are a lot fun, especially chasing and destroying the convoys, or freeing up some enemy strongholds.The game received negative criticism when it was released because of the number of repetitive side quests. I can understand why someone might feel this way, especially because this seems a lot like the UbiSoft open world design. However, most of the activities are fun enough, and because Max levels up fast enough, I didn't need to finish a lot of them to progress through the story.

I had a lot of fun with Mad Max, and I think its a very solid open world game.

Price paid - $4.99

+ Vehicle combat
+ Well designed open world
+ Chumbucket
+ Driving

- Slugging controls on the ground
- Lack of inventory
- Repetitive melee combat
Verdict - Recommended

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