Mad Max

On the road again

SFX - - Reviews - The first Mad Max game was re­leased for the NES in 1990. It does not come rec­om­mended: it’s com­plete rub­bish.

Walk­ing re­ally should be ob­so­lete in 2015. We might as well just snap our legs off now and be done with it. Devel­oper Avalanche clearly agrees: a good 90% of Mad Max is spent be­hind the wheel, as Max and freak­ish side­kick Chum­bucket ( less Char­l­ize Theron in Fury Road, more Char­l­ize Theron in Mon­ster) work to­gether to build the “Mag­num Opus”, a car ca­pa­ble of crush­ing all com­peti­tors.

The fre­quent car com­bat starts rough and in­tense as you crudely bash ri­vals off the roads, and gets bet­ter with each new tool you un­lock, from barbed spikes to the sat­is­fy­ing har­poon gun. And be­fore you get bored, you’ll be dragged back in with a sniper ri­fle, or a flamethrower, or a mine- de­tect­ing dog. Blow up your car and you’re forced out on foot, ex­posed to the el­e­ments and the bad guys while Chum­bucket slowly re­pairs it – a bril­liant game­play me­chanic.

The en­vi­ron­ment looks great: the sunrise over the desert, the ships and cars you see buried in the desert, the er… night­fall. Over the desert. Okay, va­ri­ety isn’t a strong point, but the Mad Max uni­verse is mostly sand and death and that’s cap­tured well. The quotable lu­nacy of the world doesn’t fare as well; story- wise the game de­volves to end­less philosophis­ing about cars, like the world’s most pre­ten­tious Top Gear episode.

There is at least plenty to do, with oil rigs to blow up, watch­tow­ers to knock down and thirsty moochers beg­ging for your pre­cious wa­ter. These tasks can get a lit­tle repet­i­tive, but ob­ses­sive col­lec­tor- types will be in heaven, with a stag­ger­ing amount of ex­tras to seek and de­stroy. And Mad Max gets a lot right. When you’re roar­ing through the desert, shoot­ing thugs and smash­ing cars aside, it’s hard not to start cheer­ing “wit­ness me!” while hum­ming the Fury Road theme ( you’ll have to do it your­self, as nei­ther ap­pears in the game). See­ing some of the av­er­age scores it’s re­ceived else­where sur­prised us – we wish this is what an av­er­age game played like. Ig­nore the walk­ing and keep Max be­hind the wheel, and this is as good a li­censed ad­ven­ture as you could ask for. Tom Stone

Ig­nore the walk­ing and keep Max be­hind the wheel

Never bor­row Max’s span­ner with­out ask­ing first.

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