|System: Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC, PS3, PS4|
|Dev: Avalanche Studios|
|Pub: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment|
|Release: April 30, 2014|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p|
by Josh Engen
The Mad Max franchise has enjoyed a strange kind of immortality since an adorably young Mel Gibson brought the character to life in 1979. But when EA officially unveiled the title during their press conference at E3, I must admit, I was genuinely surprised.
In retrospect, though, surprise probably wasn't the appropriate reaction. Warner Brothers has been trying to reboot the Mad Max franchise for a very long time, and a fourth installment, Mad Max: Fury Road, just wrapped a six-month shoot in December. Plus, a video game spin-off has been discussed several times. So, like I said, surprise probably wasn't the appropriate reaction.
Though, the fact that Avalanche Studios was able to show off such a well-polished version of the game was surprising indeed. When the folks at Warner Bros. Interactive packed us into an E3 theater, I expected to see another five-minute trailer, but they whipped out a PlayStation 4 controller and launched a 10-minute-long gameplay demo.
The game, unsurprisingly, takes place in an Australian wasteland in some dystopian future. I feel like any further description would be overkill, given that you've had 34 years to become acquainted with the character. If you really don't know who Mad Max is, it might be time to get reacquainted with Google too.
Or, ask your dad. He's always talking about how the two of you never talk these days.
The game's plot has been stripped down to reflect the post-apocalyptic setting, which is a smart move on Avalanche's part. Survival is the only thing that Max really cares about, and the character probably couldn't handle the same kind of shoehorned storylines that most open-world titles attempt to pass off. Max is simply looking to track down his favorite four-wheeled friend, the Interceptor, and it'll be the player's job to find it.
Much of the gameplay is centered on a really unique vehicle-based combat system. Marauders tend to cruise around the wasteland hoping to find a fleshy bullet sponge whose name rhymes with… Fad Bax. Throughout the demo, enemies would pull up beside Max’s vehicle and fling themselves onto the car. When the game finally hits the market in 2014, you'll have to be quick on the draw with your sawed-off shotgun if you want to avoid becoming a puddle of chum.
Speaking of chum, during the presentation, we also got a glimpse of Max's sidekick, Chumbucket. During the vehicle combat, Chum jumped behind a harpoon gun and skewered an enemy tire, which was then wrenched from the vehicle thanks to some fancy driving from Max. Explosions and screaming quickly followed, and the battle ended with Max riffling through the enemy corpses for loot.
Throughout the game, and much like every other open-world title, you'll have to complete missions in order to gather the supplies that you'll need for survival. If you're not interested in following a linear storyline, that's probably fine. You'll still have plenty to do, but the option is available.
We got a glimpse of a sniper mission that saw Max infiltrating an enemy camp. The scene was reminiscent of the camp infiltrations from Far Cry 3, so there wasn't anything particularly revolutionary about the mission, but it was good to see that players won't have to spend every minute of gameplay in the driver's seat.
At the end of the mission, Max recklessly drove his car through the camp and destroyed pretty much everything. This wouldn't have been possible without a few sly vehicle upgrades that were made just before the attack. As Max gains levels, you'll unlock a series of upgrades to the Interceptor. The car will become increasingly resistant to enemy attacks, gain better traction across the desert sand, and become far more useful as a battering ram. Rumor has it that the upgrade tree for the Interceptor is incredibly deep, which makes sense considering that it's practically the game's centerpiece.
The more I think about Mad Max, the more that I think surprise was actually the right reaction. The fact that Avalanche Studios has put so much thought into perfecting a title that not only pays homage to the original subject matter, but also manages to be a completely unique experience unto itself is incredible.
The game doesn't actually come out until April 30, 2014, but Warner Bros. Interactive is already throwing their weight behind it. We already have a couple of trailers, and they just released a motion comic to provide a little backstory. So, just to be safe, it might be a good idea to circle April 30th in sharpie on your calendar. Mad Max's return to gaming will definitely be interesting.
Date: July 19, 2013