Saturday, September 19, 2015

Mad Max

Luckily this is not a movie to game game. This is just a bunch of things that might have happened to Max after Beyond Thunderdome and right before Fury Road. You CANNOT live up to the glory of Fury Road in any way, but the representation of the Mad Maxian wasteland in this game is nothing short of fantastic. If you think it's bland by looking around for the the first few hours you are so missing out. The world is immense. Sure it has a lot of the same theme, but the different areas are characterised with wonderful attention to details. Even camps and minor loot areas tend to be diverse from each other and when you thought you've seen everything you end up in a cave, or an abandoned subway station, or a buried church, or a condemned gas pipeline or (my favourite) a secret, and immense, airport.

There has been some complaining about the gating in the first few days, but I would assume that came mostly from people trying to rush the story. Yes, I believe that's the case if you choose to go that way, but it would be a mistake to rush the story exactly because there is so much to discover in the open world that even when you are done with the main quest there's still plenty to look around. Lots of huge areas aren't even touched by the main story which is nothing but a vague indication of where to go next. Mad Max The Game is proudly story-light which was a winning choice by the Devs you ask me since anything more specific would have just clashed with multiple personal interpretation of Max exactly for the reasons Stray mentioned. Instead of characters, this game is about the world which faithfully to the most recent rendition of the Mad Max universe chooses to bother you very little with plot and other questionable motives leaving you the time and space to settle in, dig it up, and enjoy what feels enjoyable and forget the stuff that just doesn't (the damn mine defusing). Criticism is fair when people point out that characters are too streamlined, but this is probably a nod to old games, where NPS and dialogues were short and to the point, and to the Mad Max tradition where action and atmosphere -more than words- make the movies.

In short, I think that this game doesn't succeed or fail based on some absolute metric, and that's probably why it's getting such incoherent ratings, but more on how much you enjoy the immersion in a huge postapocalyptic world made of killer cars and hundreds of explorable and mostly depressing locations. And even though this game is not directed by a George Miller, it isn't often that you find such attention for mood and tone in a blockbuster action game.

There is NO game without repetition and deifnitely no open world game without repetition. It makes sense that Mad Max doesn't click to some so it starts to feel like a grind pretty soon. Hell, I love Diablo but after a week I have to put it down, even though I still love it. At least here, all the gameplay elements are solid and flow like silk albeit certainly simplified to the extreme, and the presentation is so beautiful that it isn't rare to just get out of the car, sit on a hill, simply listen to the wind and gaze at the horizon as the sun sets over some sand dunes. Only to see some faint lights glimmer in the distance and get back in the Interceptor for more exploring and scavenging. Side note: this might have the longest viewing distance of any game I've ever played, and it adds SO MUCH to the whole experience.

"But is it fun?" Obviously yes if you ask me. But even more than usual, this is a moody one: you have to be into a particular theme, and have a certain appreciation for solitude, to appreciate it in full. Otherwise, yes, it's as boring as Shadow of Mordor, Batman or Far Cry are to me.


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