PS4 / XB-One / PC
For what started out as a small budget film in the late 70s, Mad Max has been nothing short of a cultural phenomenon. Almost single-handily responsible for Mel Gibson’s rise to stardom, the original 1979 film spawned two sequels – the nigh-on perfect Mad Max: The Road Warrior and the fair-to-middling Beyond the Thunderdome, complete with the walking advert for hairspray that is Tina Turner.
Now two decades later, Max is back. The big screen release of semi-reboot Fury Road earlier this year was a huge commercial success, and has paved the way for more films in the series. Now, following hot in its bloody dust trail, is Mad Max the video game, an open-world affair set in the same dystopian universe.
Best described as a cross between Brand Theft Auto and Rage, Mad Max packs a heck of a punch with its heady mixture of brawling, gun play and driving skills. You don’t have to be a Mad Max expert to play this either – whilst related to the movies, here we have an original story with original characters.
Playing Max himself on a mission to build the ultimate road car, you meet the usual assortment of gang leaders, crazies and vagabonds. Aiding you on your quest is a hunchbacked mechanic who is a few spanners short of a toolbox, and a canine companion who is a dab hand (or paw) at sniffing out land mines.
The open-world formula works a treat here, and the game’s map is divided into several districts, each of which contains hours’ worth of exploring and missions to carve through. A hazardous place to live in, gangs of enemy convoys patrol the roads looking for fresh meat to kill, and the only way to eradicate them and make the land peaceful is to bring down an areas danger level. You do this by wiping out sniper points, totem scarecrows, clearing occupied villages and taking out gang leaders – there is always something to see and do, and that is before we’ve even got to the main story missions.
Spicing things up even further is the ability to advance your skillset as you gain more experience, and being able to unlock special moves and items to equip Max with. Along with these personal upgrades, you can also instruct your mechanic to improve your cars handling, armour and speed by collecting items of scrap and car parts. It all becomes very addictive in a just-one-more-tweak way as you strive to reach the all-powerful rank of Road Warrior.
Nicely balanced between ground and vehicular combat, Mad Max makes for a rewarding experience, and a fitting accompaniment to the film series. Not one for the squeamish, it presents the world in a cold and bloody harshness, where violence is a way of life and water the most prized commodity. And let’s face it, we wouldn’t have it any other way…