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Mad Max

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Developer: Avalanche Studios
Release Date: Sept. 1, 2015 (US), Sept. 4, 2015 (EU)


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PS4/XOne/PC Preview - 'Mad Max'

by Redmond Carolipio on June 22, 2015 @ 1:30 a.m. PDT

Mad Max is a new open world, third-person action game where players become Mad Max, a lone warrior in a savage post-apocalyptic world where cars are the key to survival.

Mad Max not having a signature video game always felt like a tragedy. Take into account the source material, the potential for road combat, the apocalyptic setting – I was baffled for years as to why no one seemed willing or able to put together some kind of definitive and memorable game experience. That could all change based on what Avalanche Studios is offering thus far with Mad Max, an experience that, during my brief glance at it, evokes the spirits of other great open-world action titles without compromising the gritty, hard world of Max Rockatansky.

One of my questions going into the E3 2015 demo was how Max would handle hand-to-hand combat. My fear was that hand-to-hand would take the back seat — no pun intended — to the substantial road combat. Those fears evaporated about 10 seconds into my playtime, as the fighting system in Mad Max is a direct relative to the fighting system in the Batman Arkham games: Square handles the strikes, and Triangle handles the counters once you see the flashing icon above a foe's head when he's gearing up strike. I find it one of the most comfortable and fluid fighting systems in action games, which enabled me to sink into the experience much faster.

Stylistically, Max moves like a brutal and efficient brawler, not an intricate martial artist. It makes sense. I managed to take out of small group of enemies at a camp, which freed it up for me to loot for parts for my car, the fully customizable Magnum Opus. This being Mad Max, anything to do with cars is where most of the fun is going to be found. The car customization system is built for pure fun, where you can change and upgrade everything from tires to engines to the whole body of your car. This isn't the kind of game where you have to worry about adjusting handling, tire grip (you're in a desert wasteland, for crying out loud), but there are more than enough chances for someone to build a unique ride of doom and ride it around the massive map in search of missions.

If there's one aspect of the game that carries true epic potential, it is the vehicular combat. Tearing across the desert in my all-black Magnum Opus, I was able to loosely follow some semblance of a road en route to intercepting a convoy. Why? I needed a V8 for my car. That's it. I wanted a new engine, and I had the tools to get it.

For the demo, the Magnum Opus came equipped with a harpoon, a thunderpoon (basically an explosive harpoon) and the ability to shoot flames from the sides of its tires. I also had a deformed mechanic named Chum hanging out on the back of my car. He could use my shotgun and repair my ride whenever I pulled over.

Upon encountering the convoy, the next few minutes could be best described as having the energy of an aerial dogfight, except I was piloting a car instead of a fighter jet. Since you're in a desert, the vehicular combat is free of the trappings of freeway guardrails, building, pedestrians or other cumbersome obstacles that would make this kind of combat tiresome and annoying in other games. If I was diverted from the path of the convoy to avoid flames or other hard-charging vehicles, I never got the "Objective is getting away!!!" message  … probably because I could just hit the turbo (X button) over a few dunes and catch up.

There seem to be dozens of ways to take out enemy vehicles, and I was able to execute my share of them. I used a quick "smash" move into one vehicle to eventually render it a flaming mess, I used the harpoon to yank off another car's tire, I used the thunderpoon to blast other cars into pieces, and in one instance, I yanked off an enemy's driver's side door to give Chum a clear shot at the driver. I even harpooned an unsuspecting War Boy and sent it flying with a quick pull. For the main convoy vehicle, I had to yank off the back panel and shoot at the gas cans in the back. Following the fireworks, I had to get out of the car and pick up the new engine for my ride, which was lying on the road.

Once I installed the engine, I peeled out on the Opus and could actually feel the difference of the V8 when I accelerated.

During my short time with Mad Max, I felt like I was playing a cocktail of Batman, Just Cause and Shadow of Mordor. That's not bad company to keep, and I believe fans will be getting the Mad Max game that had always needed to be made.

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