Friday, March 3, 2017

Then and Now: Mad Max (PS4)

Back in 2015, I tried out Mad Max when I was at PAX Prime.  Sorry, PAX West, because we don't want to offend people by pointing out where it started.  Anyway, I have finally got around to playing the full game, and I wanted to take a look back at my initial impressions, and see if any changed for the full release.

"Even though Mad Max was releasing soon (when I was at PAX, it just came out yesterday), I figured why not check it out.  As another WB game, it too lifts the combat from the Batman Arkham series, but then adds some Grand Theft Auto driving.  That was fine.  After looting a few things and fighting three guys, I then had to do car combat.  Aiming while driving was somewhat automatic, which was nice, but it took me a bit to understand that.  If you are in the right position, you can shoot the gas tank on the back of an enemy car and it will explode.  However, it is hard to get into the right position.  That said, I ran out of ammo and was reduced to ramming the objective vehicle to try and complete the mission.  That was long, annoying and boring.  So hopefully it isn't quite so bad in the full game.  Overall, the on foot segment was fun but the driving wasn't."

This short demo was actually pretty representational of the final game.  You drive around...a lot, get to a place, fight some guys, then do it again.  Combat is fun, but strict.  You can't really mash your way through it, and you can easily miss the counter timing if you do mash.  By default, your health doesn't replenish automatically in or out of combat, so there is incentive to fight well.  You can either drink water, eat dog food (eww), or eat maggots (ewwwwwwwww) to restore health.  I don't think it's a great system, but it at least encourages you to do well.

The driving is a little less painful than my initial impression.  There is a sideswipe maneuver that you can use to damage cars next to you.  Plus, you can do a chunk of damage if you ram them while boosting.  I'm not sure if either of these was in the demo I played, since it didn't tell me about them.  Even so, I'm not too keen on the car combat.  Ramming stuff is fun, but trying to circle around so you can actually hit the other cars is not.  Shooting their gas tanks works fine, but ammo is very limited, at least at the point I'm at.  Also, every bad guy car is faster than mine, which is kind of dumb.  Annoying to fight, and hard to escape.  I'm not looking forward to taking down convoys.

I will definitely give the game its due for having a lot of stuff to do, even if it takes a bit to drive to it all.  There are lots of side quests and other distractions, which I have fun doing.  Especially the scarecrows.  It is so satisfying when it all works and you boost through something and it explodes.  I also like that for big enemy camps, there are things you can do to make it easier to assault them, such as take out snipers, break gates, or silence the war crier.  A big thumbs up for amount of content.

Overall, I'm liking the game so far, even if there is a lot of driving.  It's a part of the Mad Max DNA, and I can make do while actually doing the stuff I find fun.  I have to hope that when I get stronger car parts it will be less painful to have a car fight.

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