PolyNerdic Reviews: Mad Max

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I know it has been out since September but I finally got some quality time with Mad Max on the Xbox One.

Let me cut straight to the chase, Mad Max is a beautiful looking game with a lot of promise but despite the developer’s obvious ambitions falls short of being the fantastic game it could have been.

The world is enormous but almost completely empty.  As much as I enjoyed barreling through the wasteland in my custom built death machine I was often dismayed at how barren the environment was.

Look, I understand that the game takes place in a post-apocalyptic wasteland but that is no excuse for the wide open stretches devoid of activity.  Want to know another game in the same type of setting?  Fallout.  The Fallout games never feel empty of life or activity.  I can’t help but wonder if there were plans for something more but they had to be dropped so the game could make it’s release date.

I have nothing to back that on, just my opinion based upon how it feels to me.

There are two types of combat in the game, hand-to-hand which plays a lot like the Batman: Arkham series.

And if you are familiar with the Mad Max films you should be aware of the importance cars have always played within the world.  As such there is a fair bit of car to car combat and these moments are oddly satisfying.

The moment the other car explodes into a beautiful ball of flames is almost always an amazing feeling, making you truly feel like you won a life or death struggle and the flames are oddly beautiful as you scramble around picking up pieces of scrap metal from the wreckage.

That scrap is very important as it functions as the “experience” with which you level Max up and upgrade his ride.  You can unlock and add everything from reinforced ram bars on your front bumper to tire shredders on the wheels and spikes to keep enemies from boarding your ride.

As satisfying as the combat and hilarious open world hijinks can be-

I found myself befuddled by the way the story progresses.

In the opening moments of the game you lose your car and stumble upon the deformed mechanic Chumbucket (Chum for short).  Chum views you as a messiah figure and helps you build a new ride.  From there you are introduced to a “friendly” warlord and given various sidequests to accomplish for him.  You also are immediately introduced to another warlord but have to meet some requirements before you can progress his portion of the story.

This forces you to do these random tasks and jobs in order to move the story along but the game doesn’t do a good job of presenting your open quests in an easily followed manner.  I could be wrong but I often found myself returning to the stronghold and physically walking up to an item that needed constructed in order to mark the location I needed to search.

Long ago games like this gave you the option to pull up a list of open missions and marking the map from there.  Mad Max’s interface is so perplexing that after playing nearly 8 hours of it I think I’ve only managed to complete around 17% of the main story strictly because I’ve spent so much time wandering aimlessly or been unable to figure out the best way to level up in order to effectively take on some of the tasks placed before me.

Mad Max has given me more mixed feelings than any game I have played in a long, long time.  I have a lot of fun playing it but often feel like I should be doing something more important than just driving around smashing other cars into flaming messes of metal.

Mad Max is definitely worth checking out, especially if you find it on the cheap or pick it up as a rental.  I’m a little disappointed with the game but still found it to be a lot of fun.  I feel that if a little more polish had been put on the game, especially when it comes to the quest structure and interface, and Max had been given a little more to do in a less empty world, the game could have easily been a game of the year contender.

As it is, it is simply a flawed yet fun game.

Also make sure you check out the below playlist to follow my progression through the game.

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