At E3 2015 I got to spend some hands-on time with the upcoming Mad Max game running on the Xbox One, and I must say that it offers some of the best open world driving controls around, which makes perfect sense considering the heavy focus on vehicles in all four Mad Max live-action movies.
The demo opened with some non-vehicle gameplay, which plays very similarly to a Batman Arkham, or Assassin’s Creed title in terms of Max’s melee abilities. There is one attack button, as well as a parry button, which just like the Batman and AC titles needs to be pressed when a bad guy telegraphs his attack. If you time it correctly Max will counter their attack and brutally make them pay for the miss with a leather covered knee to the face. The action is violent and graphic, which are two required check boxes for a Mad Max video game, so it will earn its M-rating.
Offensively Max only has one attack, but his strikes vary based on how many successful hits you land without being blocked. The demo I played was very focused on melee combat, so I didn’t get to blast anyone with Max’s iconic double barreled shotgun, but that did come into play during the driving section I encountered. I will say that Max’s movements are a bit lumbering in terms of his speed and walking mechanic, which may be due in part to the camera, but he did feel slightly drunk while navigating with him on foot.
Mad Max really begins to shine during the vehicle gameplay though, so after I picked up a new chassis for my war vehicle I set out into the wide open wasteland in pursuit of a marauder convoy to steal a new V8 engine for my death whip. The driving mechanics are some of the best I’ve ever come across in a vehicle-centric game. Traveling at high speeds and making twists and turns through the desert felt very stable and precise. I rarely found myself having to make major course corrections while tailing the convoy using the map’s highlighted route, which was fantastic considering how topsy turvy these high speed chases play out.
While in his car Max and I believe his name is Chumbucket, have a variety of offensive abilities they can use to take out other wastelanders. Aiming and driving usually don’t go hand in hand, but in Mad Max the process of speedily driving your vehicle while also focusing on offensive attacks works near flawlessly. This is thanks to the action going into a slow-mo effect anytime you hold the “B” button to initiate an attack, which allows for easy aiming to find your mobile target. The attacks I were able to utilize in the demo were Max’s shotty, which can blow a car’s fuel tanks into a fireworks display, a harpoon to rip away shielding and just generally wreak havoc on your target, an electrified harpoon, and a dual-sided flame thrower. Each attack has limited uses, so you can’t just spam one over the other, which encourages variety in your offensive strategies.
It was very satisfying to take out the convoy using a mix of these attacks, as well as just bluntly driving into the sides of my targets to ram them off the road and wear down their shielding. After I took every car out I was able to focus on the tanker carrying the V8 I wanted, which took no time at all thanks to its escorts being blow to bits by your’s truly. Equipping the new engine offered a deeper look at just how far you can tweak’s Max’s ride, so car enthusiasts and tinkerers alike will appreciate the deep customization featured in Mad Max.
Visually, the world of Mad Max is bleakly stunning, if that makes any sense. The graphics are pretty intense and definitely feel current-gen on the Xbox One. I didn’t notice any frame rate issues, even while driving at high speeds and launching vicious attacks on the bad guys trying to take me out to scavenge my person and ride. The environment is littered with random areas to investigate, giving it a living feel. The character models and car models also oozed excellence, and both felt very George Miller-ish.
Mad Max made a bang at E3 2013 then kind of disappeared for all of 2014, but based on my demo it looks like the game is on track for a solid showing when it releases September 1, 2015 for the PS4 and Xbox One. I didn’t get to spend enough time to take the game through its full paces, but the brief time I had with it convinced me that it’ll be a game I’ll purchase this fall to experience a Mad Max video game style while watching the blu-ray version of Fury Road repeatedly in the background.
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