BORED TO SLEEP BY MAD MAX
By Shelby Steiner
Every gamer has played a lame game and could probably make an exhaustive list of them. There’s a difference between a lame game and a bad game though. You see, a bad game is something that is unplayable for one reason or another. Alpha Protocol, TimeShift, and Blacksite: Area 51 made my list of truly bad games. Lame games are a different animal.
Mad Max is one of those games.
Mad Max is one of those games that defines the term bloatbox (the one I made up). Don’t misunderstand me, there are redeeming qualities of Mad Max but they didn’t do much to keep me going. In a day and age when video game backlogs are a commonly talked about problem, you have to be a little conservative with your time. I used to be the type to slog through a game for the sole satisfaction of getting the bare minimum achievements but as I get pickier, I’ve begun to realize that I have better things to do than suffer through something that bores me.
Mad Max’s problem lies in the aforementioned term. It’s a big and beautiful game, but there’s almost nothing to it. It’s full of mindless busywork and what makes it worse than a game like Far Cry 4 is that you’re forced to do the busywork. Now Far Cry 4 is a game that is laden with busywork, but you can do well to avoid it. Hell, you can avoid playing the game entirely even. Mad Max doesn’t offer you that option. At set intervals in the game, you’re required to do a set of missions to collect a necessary upgrade to progress in the story. Now you may think that all games do that, but Mad Max takes it a step further and requires you to also collect the amount of “scrap” currency needed to fashion the upgrade as well.
This wouldn’t be so bad if the side missions and extra content was actually fun to play. Instead, the fluff is tedious at best and you’d need a flow chart or something to figure out what you need to do to be able to get to the next area. I’ll explain…
At one point in the game you are tasked with getting through The Jaw. To get through The Jaw (which rips off Borderlands’ vehicle arena in the Road Warriors: Bandit Apocalypse mission, which rips off Mad Max so I guess it’s ok) you need to upgrade the Magnum Opus with armor, weapons, engine upgrades, and other crap. This is where I had enough. This is because in order for me to get the upgrades I needed, I had to collect scrap. To collect scrap, I needed to upgrade my car.
You undoubtedly can understand the problem here.
I could’ve beat my head against the wall and made it through, but I didn’t. I wasn’t about to start the step-by-agonizing-step process of checking things off my list to get through to the next area. I wasn’t going to scour the gigantic, yet beautiful, empty wasteland to find bits of materials to upgrade my harpoon gun. My harpoon gun that required me to lower the enemy’s influence on the area before I could upgrade it. The same harpoon gun upgrades I needed to take down those damn scarecrows. The very same scarecrows that I needed to be able to take down to lower the enemy’s influence in the area.
So I stopped.
DOES THAT MAKE MAD MAX A BAD GAME?
It certainly does not. I know I’m complaining pretty extensively about Mad Max, but I want you to know that it isn’t a bad game at all. In fact the game is pretty solid. The car combat is downright incredible, and fun I might add. I loved how the game also changed how combat works on foot, tapering back the use of firearms by severely limiting available ammunition. The game is absolutely breathtaking too. I never knew how beautiful a sandy wasteland could look until I played this game. It’s just that none of this was enough to keep me going.
That’s why I never finished Mad Max. That’s why despite my desire to review it, I don’t feel that I can honestly write a review for it. That’s why Mad Max is a lame game.
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