Realism is something people love to strive for in gaming but then things can also get a little too real for our liking, and people will switch off and decide the game is too “boring” to be considered entertainment.
There is an accepted gap between what would happen in a situation you see in a game and what we want to play for fun.
Mad Max so far is trying to walk closely to that line, giving a sense of the realism of what it’s like to survive in The Wasteland but also enough action to make me feel survival is well worth it, since there is some fun to be had if I do keep going.
A few hours into Mad Max I started to really feel a sense of immersion with the post-apocalyptic land of the films I watched as a teenager, not when they released of course… I’m not that old, honest! I watched the originals on TV in the late 90s and I really enjoyed the first 2 movies and the character of Mad Max.
But saying this is a movie tie-in with the new adaptation of Mad Max that launched earlier in the year, would be very wrong about the game. There are references to the old and new movies but ultimately, this is the creation of top developer’s Avalanche Games and it’s a very much a proper game release, even if there are some frame rate dips and missed frames that could do with a patch as it plays right now.
What’s more, we received our copy of this game on the same day as another major release and it kept Metal Gear Solid V (another game I am playing and Keeping a Diary of Over the Next Few Days) on the shelf longer than I expected. It may be an unusual decision that games came at the same time (more on that decision later in the week!) but it more than kept my attention away from MGS, as I enjoyed the harsh reality of Mad Max’s story.
Where the game has me really respecting it is actually going to be the point of most controversy and opinion divide within gamers. Please bear in mind, when I know I’m reviewing a game I do not read other people’s reviews as to not cloud my judgment when I play myself so I may go over some old ground from a reader’s perspective. But it feels like I’m doing the things needed to survive this land and there are rules that make sense, mainly that cars need fuel; Max needs water and food; and you also need to fight hard for some bits of scrap to help you make resources.
All these things are of course game versions of realism but never-the-less, they go close to that overly realistic line that borders on the mundane tasks we do in real life. Now I like the fact that my car needs to be fuelled to be run and I also like the idea of fighting for the small things like water, food and resources to help you. But this is after a few hours, I may have a different opinion after 20 or so and the game is getting closer to the end if there isn’t enough creativity to keep it interesting.
But saying that there is a solid amount of action so far that is really keeping me happy and keeps you itching for more. The combat system is the type you would expect of a Warner Bros game, inspired by the flowing combat of their flagship franchise Batman Arkham, you have a variation of attack counter combat that feels a bit more lethal than Batman but less fancy than seen with Shadow of Mordor.
Enemies don’t mess around either, they go at you with the craziness you would expect of a gang member in the wasteland. They smack Max around with big melee weapons, big haymakers and fire balls all of which will see your life go down significantly if you don’t counter in good time. It doesn’t have the richness to it of its brother and sister games in the WB family, but it feels hard and brutal like it should.
My main concern from a personal standpoint so far is the control system, I find it a bit all over the place really. In combat it’s ok but in movement and using your shotgun for aiming I find it a little clunky and doesn’t always follow gaming conventions, meaning your less instinctive in your use of the controller.
Still, after getting my first few hours into this vast world I can say I really am liking it, I can see how some gamers will find it tedious constantly collecting items and having to manage fuel in your vehicle but it make it different to other titles and that is something noteworthy in itself.
More on this title in part too as I focus on the open world areas to explore, crazy characters and the development of Max & your car.