Holiday Purchase 2: Mad Max

Holiday Purchase 2: Mad Max

Posted by on Jan 21, 2016 in Commentary, featured, PS4 |

Here’s what I think about Mad Max in bits and pieces. It gets the cars and the setting right. The story is forgettable, the characters less so. The on-foot experience makes you wish you never stepped out of your vehicle. There’s a tremendous amount of unnecessary busywork.

The Mad Max experience is split into two modes of gameplay: driving and not driving. One of them is better than the other. When you’re behind the wheel the game truly shines because driving is fun. Racing, car combat and even simple free roam are worthwhile experiences. Burning rubber through the desert, firing explosives and ramming against cars, jumping off ramps and canyons; they’re all enjoyable.

Going on-foot is like going to school. You don’t want to but you have to. Combat is mostly button-mashing against the same types of enemies. The bosses are the worst examples since they’re simple head swaps of each other. They might look different, but you deal with them in the same repetitive manner. I suspect that all of the good ideas went into the driving.

The game’s biggest flaw is the busywork. Almost everything that you do is given a deliberate, laborious feel to it. Refilling your water flask? Here’s an animation sequence showing it. Refueling? Another sequence plays. It was interesting to see the first time and got old afterwards.

The most egregious example is the hot air balloon. Hot air balloons in Mad Max function similarly to towers in Assassin’s Creed: they reveal what activities are available in an area and act as fast travel points. To use them, you hop in and press a button to raise or lower the balloon. Now, some balloons are going to be anchored to the ground. Some of them won’t have fuel. Some of them are going to be defended by locals. Some of them are anchored, defended and have empty fuel tanks. And poor you if you didn’t bring extra gas because you’re going to have to find some then come back. When you finally ascend, guess what? You have to look around manually and find those activities yourself.

Overall, Mad Max is a good game that’s ruined by its reliance on busywork equating good gameplay. Anything involving cars is great. The on-foot sequences are hit-or-miss. At half-price, it’s a great deal.