This year’s E3 could be considered one of the biggest showings for fan favorite franchises to make a return. In Mad Max‘s case, 2015 has been a fantastic year so far. Fury Road, the first film in the franchise in almost thirty years, has gotten an amazing reception that’s helped pump up interest for the upcoming game that’s being developed by Avalanche Studios. It’s also put extra pressure onto the development house. There’s a lot to live up to.
There’s a good reason fans and newcomers should be looking forward to a Mad Max game, because the franchise has been such an inspirational hallmark in games for years. The style, theme and atmosphere of the post-apocalyptic Australian wasteland adventures of Max Rockatansky have been aped to death, so it’s about time we get to jump into the Interceptor and go crazy.
Sad to report, we do not get to drive the Interceptor in the game. Much like in the movies (spoiler!), Max’s trademark ride is apparently offed in the beginning of the game, forcing him to strive to rebuild a car, because walking is not an option in the world of Mad Max.
But before we get into talking about the car, it’s worth going into what the overall game is all about. In the styling of Avalanche’s Just Cause games, Mad Max is an open world game, or in its special case, it’s an open desert game. Calling Max’s world just a desert is a little bit of a disservice, though, since it’s surprisingly varied visually and hey, it’s populated by all sorts of colorful and completely friendly characters.
The E3 demo introduced us to some of these guys right away. In one of the two possible scenarios we were given to try out, Max went out dukes to dukes with a gang of raiders that were holding on to an upgrade to Max’s car. After a quick bout of a very Batman-y counterattack combat system — this is a Warner Bros game, after all — we jumped into the customization system for the junk heap vehicle Max and his new mechanic pal Chumbucket are putting together. Chum is also darn good at handling a wrench while you drive the car at high speed, repairing it as you go.
From the demo, it was easy to get the upgrade system for your wasteland ride. We were quickly instructed to click here and select that and pop back out to the game, but I caught a glimpse of the sort of options that the full game will give you to make your car relatively unique. It’s nothing out of this world in terms of originality, but you’re able to add and boost certain stats in favor to your play style. Say, if you like ramming other vehicles, you could pick up a new spiked grill plate, boost your engines and add a little more armor. And ramming is definitely an option within the game, as once you jump into your car, you become the videogame embodiment of chaos.
During our demo, Max’s car was pretty decked out. With our side flamethrowers, we were able to take out a few of the thugs driving to protect the convoy we were pushed towards taking over, with beautifully destructive results. If things weren’t wrecked enough to satisfy your blood lust, there’s also a grappling hook which we quickly put to use. It can be aimed at various parts of the enemy’s car, including the poor hapless driver, who we obviously took for a ride sans wheel, bum to the sand.
I could go on and on about how entertaining causing chaos is within the game and I will once I get to review it in a couple of months, but safe to say, Mad Max was as thrilling to play as anyone remotely familiar with Avalanche’s portfolio could come to expect from them.
Granted, there’s still much we have yet to see about Mad Max, mainly the story and the whys for the whats that Max is doing during the game. In many ways, though, I have an inkling that, similarly to the movies, the story beats will play second role to the action in the game. With that in mind, I’m keeping my expectations in check. If rebuilding a car and simply surviving is all the game is about, but if the action is as good as the E3 demo throughout its entirety, it might turn out to be pretty freaking cool.
And the best news is that we won’t have to wait a whole lot to possibly have a lovely day out in the desert. Mad Max is set to burst through September 1st for PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.