Mad Max Preview

The moment Mad Max was announced and the first cinematic trailer was shown, I was excited. Mad Max as an open world action game developed by the minds behind the inventive, intense and action packed Just Cause 2? Fantastic. Unfortunately, information regarding the game was scarce. That is until now. Thanks to Warner Bros Games and Avalanche Studios, Console Domination was invited to see a gameplay demo by the developers, and it was quite impressive.

The demo we saw was partway through the game, with Max, his insane mechanical genius sidekick Chumbucket and a mission to steal a car. Temporarily working for a warlord named Jeet, Max has to steal a car from an enemy base in exchange for the parts needed to upgrade his own vehicle; the Magnum Opus. As the developers drove up a dusty hill to look upon the enemy fortress, you could get a sense of how large and desolate parts of the wasteland were. Whipping out a sniper rifle, the player proceeded to mark enemy snipers atop their watch towers on the HUD, shooting one of them before moving close to the other. Rather than take out the second in a similar matter, instead another weapon was displayed. Using the Harpoon gun, the developer proceeded to latch onto one of the guard tower’s support beams, before revving the engine and pulling the entire thing down. With the base now on high alert and the gate too thick for the car to smash through, the developers went in on foot, scaling a wall, stealth killing an enemy before jumping into the courtyard where the car was being kept. It was here that we got a glimpse of the combat system, which looked brutal, intense and holding quite a bit of depth. Close combat was a mix of strikes, counters and vicious finishers. Weapons could also be brought into play, with pick ups such as a brutal explosive tipped spear as well as Max’s ever present sawn off shotgun quickly dispatching enemies in a bloody fashion. Each enemy killed also earned experience, and we were told that Max had a skill tree to work through.

Having cleared the base and stolen the ride, a speedy little V12 number, the developer proceeded to make the drive back to Jeet’s stronghold, only for marauding bandits in vehicles to attack. Fast, but rather fragile, the developer sped around trying to shake them, before going on the offensive. Using the shotgun, slow motion was activated as the developer carefully lined up shots, picking off drivers and hitting exposed gas tanks. Arriving back at the stronghold, the V12 was immediately chopped up for parts, with some of them going to you. It seems like the vehicle customisation is very extensive. Each stronghold you visit allows you to upgrade your Magnum Opus, with each different stronghold being particularly skilful at certain things. In this case, Jeet’s group was particularly good at building vehicle rams. Attaching a ramming prow to the car, the weight was increased. A supercharger and larger tires were soon added to compensate.

Having upgraded the Magnum Opus, the developers then proceeded to drive through a dangerous, enemy infested area called The Jaw. A gauntlet of enemy fortifications and roaming vehicle patrols, the new and improved Magnum Opus proceeded to smash through it. Whereas before, while driving the fast and fragile V12, the developers attempted to outrun the scavengers before resorting to violence, in the much tougher Opus, the developers went head to head, smashing into them with the ram, or slamming into them with wild abandon. Something worth adding is that while in the Opus, your sidekick Chumbucket is sitting in the back, and he can fire powerful weapons like the harpoon gun or rocket launchers. Enemy boarders who attempted to jump onto the car were soon shot or thrown off by some wild driving. Speeding through enemy fire and smashing through the odd obstacle and enemy vehicle, the harpoon was used to pull down a gate and the demo ended as Max escaped from the enemy gauntlet.

We then had a group Q and A session, where some of Mad Max’s features were fleshed out:

  • The map is comparable, in terms of size and amount of activities to do, as Just Cause 2.
  • The hand to hand combat is somewhat inspired by the Batman: Arkham games.
  • Your Magnum Opus can never be truly destroyed. Should it be wrecked, you wait on foot as Chumbucket proceeds to repair it. Although that gameplay decision hasn’t been completely finalised just yet.
  • The world is full of crazy characters just the like the movies. Chumbucket in particular is an insane genius with mechanics. He treats machines with a religious fervour, praying to a mechanical deity and calling Max a Saint.
  • Much of what has been on show, with the dusty wastelands, are part of one area. The game will have varied environments, including remnants of the Old World as well as towns. Probably in a Mad Max 3 Bartertown sort of way though.
  • The game has a powerful physics based vehicular combat system which will be a key focus in the game. It’s much improved over the vehicle handling in Just Cause 2.
  • Unlike Just Cause 2, the focus is on story missions, with a major narrative taking precedence. There are however lots of sidequests, collectables, events, easter eggs and random encounters though.
  • How you upgrade your car determines your approach and vice versa. You can build a speedy getaway car or an armoured behemoth.
  • The game was inspired by the films, but doesn’t take place at the specific time in the film history.
  • The casting process is still ongoing so we could possibly hear a lot more Australian accents in the final release.

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