Friday, November 25, 2016

Mad Max is Lost in the Wasteland: A Game Review

Directors: Frank Rooke and Neil Huxley.

Writer: Odd Ahlgren.

28DLA continues to bring you reviews of games released over a year ago. The latest is Warner Bros.' Mad Max. Launched on the PS4 and Xbox One platforms in late 2015, this is a post-apocalyptic actioner, set in a rugged wasteland. Story-light, the game thrusts you into the desert. Here, wasters hamper you at every turn. Emotionless and almost without dialogue, Max (Bren Foster) struggles to find motivation, for the fight, in this huge landscape. As you roam the wastes, there are all kinds of ways to remove the oil-starved competition. Still, everything gets repetitive, over time. You will be doing the same things over and over again, in various territories. There is only one way to the oil-stained throne, dampening some of the game's potential.

After hours of play, the story will have barely improved. Max is delusionally searching for the Plains of Silence, a place that might only lie within. This place definitely does not exist anywhere on the map. As it is, Max is tasked will helping and serving various desert warlords. From Jeet (Josh Keaton) to Gutgash (Liam O'Brien), everyone has something for Max to do, to improve their strongholds. Fiercely independent in the films, why does Max not create a holding of his own? With that aside, all of the story details are pointing Max towards a final confrontation with Scrotus (Travis Willingham), the most dominant warrior king. Your attention may drift along the way.

Mad Max offers a number of ways to interact with the environment. You will need to get used to them as they repeat often. You will quickly gain your first car, thanks to a hunchback (Jason Spisak). This ugly sidekick will repair your car or give you vague story directions. As the game progresses, you will gain a harpoon and a sniper rifle, to fight your many foes. Then, you can add all sorts of armour and spikes to your wasteland chariot. You will need every scrap of steel, to improve your standing against Scrotus. Not much later, you can punch, kick, grapple and generally subdue a whole assortment of strange warrior tribes. Their strongholds are more difficult to overcome, but never impossible. A boss battle or two switches things up slightly. But, much of the game's conflicts repeat across multiple territories.

This part-time gamer had a few criticisms, for this Avalanche Studios' outing. One of the most repetitious tasks involves scavenging for "scrap." Max acts as a scrap collector for various warlords. Why don't they collect it on their own? As the lackey, you will need to search various scrap areas on the map; they are plentiful. And, the raids on these locations are very similar. Though, a harpoon can make the attacks slightly more exciting. In various territories, you will be knocking down metal scarecrows, to diminish Scrotus' power. You will need to disarm minefields and take out snipers, while Max mumbles something about the past. The action is entertaining, initially. But, all of these interactions lose their charm after the twentieth or thirtieth time.

This gamer is a fan of the post-apocalyptic genre, in games and films. As real-life news stories grow darker, this genre is growing in popularity. From Fallout 4 (2015) to 7 Days to Die (2016), these games reflect culture and possibly even some of the media's constant doomsaying. Some games are better than others, however. And overall, Mad Max plays out much like another, Shadows of Mordor, in combat and exploration. This makes sense as Warner Bros.' has distributed both Shadows of Mordor and Mad Max. As well, this player could not help think of Fallout 4, while driving the wastes. This more recent release is head and shoulders above Mad Max, with many more options available to players. As it is, Mad Max could have used more story to drive the action forward. Instead, the wasteland grows tiresome as Max plays out like a one-dimensional, slightly crazed character.

Overall: 6.75 out of 10.

If you want to be online gaming buddies: Mike Allen on the Playstation Network

More on the game at Avalanche Studios: Mad Max at Avalanche Studios

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