Everything You Should Know About Mad Max
Avalanche Studio's, best known for the Just Cause series, is hard at work on Mad Max, due out later this year. Two developers from the studio sat down with Game Informer for a Q&A, which yielded some interesting answers. The game is based on the cult movie series, the fourth of which, Mad Max: Fury Road, is out May 13th. The game isn't based on any specific movie in the series but rather a one-shot; not canon but using the characters and universe. Licensed games haven't had the best track record but with a developer like Avalanche behind it, Mad Max has a lot of potential. Here's a couple of reasons why you should care about the game.
Unique Mechanics (Pun sort-of inteded)
The Just Cause series is known for being pure anarchic fun, so why the heck wouldn't that fit perfectly with the world of Mad Max? Avalanche have brought their unique open-world design, fun gameplay, and added in a host of new features that are sure to make Mad Max a fresh apocalyptic experience.
One of the first attachments you get in the game is a harpoon for your car. The harpoon can be used to attach Max's Falcon to other cars, enemies, structures and drag or pull them. Sniper Towers or simple walls can be pulled down to take out that pesky enemy but perhaps the best use of the harpoon is against enemy cars, tearing them apart.
Another interesting feature is that of balloons that Max can use to get an eagles view of an area and scan for points of interest. This makes exploring the vast wasteland a little easier especially when there's a dust storm. However the most noteworthy feature, is the vehicular combat.
Improving The Falcon
The Mad Max movies are kind of about vehicles. Big, weird, insane vehicles that are literally built to destroy. The wasteland is a big place, so your car will be your best friend. Max's iconic car, the Ford Falcon, is known in the game as the Magnum Opus and is yours to design.
Max can upgrade and personalise his car in a variety of ways, such as the harpoon gun mentioned previously. As well as this you can have mounted guns, tire-spikes, flamethrowers and all sorts of daily appliances on the Falcon. Details on customization are slim thus far but Avalanche have mentioned every gamer being able to "put their stamp" on their car, so chances are there will be a variety of options.
To upgrade the car, you can scavenge parts from around the wasteland, or destroy other cars. Blowing up enemy cars is a useful tactic for gaining parts but being more methodical and killing the driver, then taking their car, earns much more.
No Map Boundaries
This is a feature that excites me quite a lot. Mad Max features "soft boundaries", as they were referred to by Avalanche, which basically mean you can never hit an invisible wall or mountain that signifies the map's edges. That being said, there is a point where you can go beyond the real map and things begin to change.
The Big Nothing, as it's so affectionately referred, is the area beyond the map that Max can drive into and test his luck at surviving. Once you reach this point, the land becomes flatter and more barren. Eventually you will see a gigantic wall of sand approach, which will engulf your car and make it very hard to see. There are a variety of ways to get killed in the Big Nothing, from debris to lightning. The point is, Avalanche want you to try your hand at navigating the Big Nothing because there's some rare things to scavenge out there, but they aren't going to make it easy for you.
Scavenging Done Right
Avalanche Studios wanted the world of Mad Max to feel like an authentic wasteland. As mentioned earlier, players can scavenge parts from enemy vehicles, or steal them altogether. One of the coolest things is that your side-kick, Chumbucket, will bring the Falcon to you once you've traded vehicles for scrap.
Another method of scavenging comes in the form of food and water. Sure this sounds like a lot of other games but it's more Fallout than GTA. Max has a canteen and can regularly fill it up at towns and other water sources. He can also drink from tin cans laying around the land and eat pretty much anything you can find, so Avalanche has truly embraced the wasteland lifestyle.
And of course, in a game largely about driving, fuel is a big commodity. And again, this is more Fallout than GTA. Max doesn't have an endless supply of fuel. Doing errands for wacko's in the wasteland can reward you some fuel and or ammo, as well as finding canisters throughout the land. Basically this is a true wasteland in which survival is actually a game mechanic.
First-Person Road Warrior
One of the most surprising things about Mad Max is the implementation of first-person. The game is primarily third-person but when driving you can switch to first-person and experience the insanity of the vehicular combat up close.
The car combat is frantic and explosive in third-person but switch to first-person and add in adrenaline, stress and a little bit of fear. If you've seen the trailers for the new movie, imagine that in first-person and you get an idea of what it feels like to play Mad Max.
Brutal Wasteland Combat
Last but far from least is the brutal combat in Mad Max. As is the case with many games post 2009, Avalanche Studios have adopted a 'Arkham' approach to combat. So enemies surround Max and you can attack them or counter their moves to get the better of them.
Unlike the Arkham series however, Mad Max is actually more brutal - which says a lot, considering how violent the Caped Crusader can be. As seen in the newly released trailer above, Max will break bones and smash heads as you plough through waves of enemies.
The fighting is part Arkham and part WWE, which suits me just fine as a wrestling fan - Max can be seen laughing dropkicks and suplexes to deal with enemies. Beating goons builds up your Fury Mode which, when activated, allows Max to deal out more damage faster. And, if that wasn't enough, Max can use shivs, ala The Last of Us, to stab enemies. Shivs are a quicker way of killing the bad guys but the are for limited use.
All in all Mad Max feels like a dangerous, insane road-trip through hell. Play as Max as you drive like a maniac, shoot/beat the crap out of wasteland weirdos, and scavenge your way to king of the crazies. Don't be fooled into thinking Mad Max is another movie tie-in game that isn't worth your money, Avalanche Studios have been working on this game for a long time and it's a labour of love, not a quick cash-in.
The wasteland is bleak and barren, and yet more alive than most open worlds. From the over-the-top settlements filled with bizarre characters, to the enticing challenge of the Big Nothing, the wasteland is a world that begs to be explored and, come September 1st, that's exactly what I plan to do.