I’m just a few hours in, but like maybe have pointed out, this is just such a gorgeous game. And just in the AAA sense, that it inevitably has beautiful moments because of a combination of prestige particle effects and empty spectacle. This is a game with real aesthetic vision, that is consistently striking and beautiful. Everything evokes a specific wasted world and none of it feels cheap or easy. So much of the open world stuff seems empty, so I’m choosing to focus on the game as an aesthetic and tonal experience. We’ll see how that works out.
If you ever are unlucky enough to get me started on a rant about genre action films and the DNA they share between one another, I will probably comment on how beautifully Fury Road managed to both pay homage to its roots and transcend its predecessors. The original Mad Max (1979 - around 40 years old now) came out before many of the tropes of post-apocalypse movies were established, and it and its sequel, The Road Warrior, were a big part of how those came into existence. The use of big empty spaces littered with modern detritus, the appropriation of the punk aesthetic, the tribes of survivors who barely recall the time before The End came - a lot of those lynch-pins of the cinematic post-apocalypse were either introduced in those first three Mad Max movies or were at least popularized by them.
To get there, though, writer-director George Miller had to be a student (or at least a fan) of filmmakers like Sam Peckinpah, Sergio Leone, and Akira Kurosawa, creators who also often depicted stoic, violent men trying to survive in moral vacuums where society had broken down and humanity was reduced to its rawest circumstances. The outlaw loner who navigates the widening gyre tends to be an idealized image of masculine self-reliance, capable and tough, but also often a bit of an asshole in his amorality and indifference to suffering. Sure, he inevitably turns out to Not Be So Bad deep down, but the callouses run deep and there’s plenty of toxic behavior to consider when the Man With No Name is studied from a modern perspective.
The thing that struck me most when watching Fury Road - aside from the pure enjoyment of a coherent and exciting action-adventure story - was that George Miller had somehow managed to not only be aware of his influences, but also the influence his own work caused over 30 years prior AND to see something new and worthwhile in re-casting the archetypes and imagery in a 21st century context. He wasn’t just recalling us to the wasteland to catch up with Mad Max; he was introducing new players and ideas and having Max have to catch up with them.
There’s a moment in Fury Road which I feel encapsulates the new role Max plays in that movie. As Furiosa’s rig get stuck in a quagmire, the militarist forces from the Bullet Farm threaten the fugitives from Immortan Joe’s stronghold. Max sneaks off on his own to go deal with this latest bunch of grotesque marauders while the rest of the crew continues working on getting the rig out of the muck, and as an audience we only observe his success from a long distance in a pitch black night. There’s some gunshots, an explosion, and then a bloodied Max comes struggling back to the rig with a bunch of new weapons, stoically refusing to elaborate on how he accomplished the deed.
That whole sequence is a direct lift from The Seven Samurai, where Kyūzō the swordmaster runs off on his lonesome to deal with a bandit sniper, disappearing off-screen for a bit while the villagers and his fellow samurai anxiously await his return. We hear a musket shot or two and he comes running back into frame, impassively passing the rifle he’s just stolen to the leader before going to get some sleep, pretending not to notice the awe-struck looks on the observers’ faces. Its a great bit and helps to establish the badassity of Kyūzō without even showing an action sequence.
I often think about the elegant tip of the hat Miller does with that bit in Fury Road, both letting Max still be a hard-as-nails action hero but not having him hog the spotlight - pointing to the fact that despite his laconic ways and oft-repeated indifference to Furiosa and the Wives’ plight, he can be a team player who contributes in his own bloody-handed way to their cause. He’s got a part to play in the story, but his own sad-dad-bullshit isn’t central to the bigger picture.
When you consider these and other deft moments of storytelling amid the churning, chugging, chaotic chase that makes up most of that film and then look at the Mad Max video game, you kind of get while I felt deflated by my experience playing it.
They nail the look - as evidenced by the photo mode pictures seen on this thread and elsewhere, the weird Outback wasteland has an ugly beauty of its own that its hard to ignore. Lots of color in the skies, lots of unique formations and interesting ruins, and a generally robust cycle of weather and lighting effects. That stuff isn’t quite as “poppy” as the color palette of Fury Road, but I still loved just driving around and looking at things.
The gameplay, as has been noted, came close to something special but never quite got there. There’s a nice sense of kinetic brutality to the car combat, in keeping with the source material, and I enjoyed any moment where the topography and the mix of marauder vehicles made me make a lot of tactical decisions on the fly. Feathering throttle, building up turbo, harpooning and swerving around - that stuff could be fun. I don’t know if I enjoyed it enough to do more scrap-grinding in it (I put 65 hours in back when I first picked the game up), much less just on its own, but that’s probably the strongest part of the game?
The hand-to-hand was fine, but I rarely sought it out. The odd propensity of psycho wastelanders to leave the protection offered by their rides and get blown away by Max’s sawed-off or run over never felt right - I guess that’s their way of reaching Valhalla quicker, but it could take me out of the moment. I wanted a bit more grit and brains in the fighting, and while there were some tense and challenging set-pieces here and there from a standpoint of difficulty, it all got real drab and repetitive.
Drab and repetitive is probably the best way to describe the story. I personally was okay with Max being a selfish prick for most of the game, given where he’s supposed to be at in his headspace, but I never felt attached to any of the characters beyond perhaps Chumbucket. As hideous and gross as he is, he’s the only character with an arc of note, and I felt he deserved better company.
There’s an unending parade of creeps thing that reminds me of the supporting casts in every Grand Theft Auto Game, in that it takes a very sardonic and cynical viewpoint on all factions and personalities of the wasteland. “See how shitty mankind is and will always be?” it seems to want to say, a premise that feels like a given considering the setting and the state of things. There’s some vague gestures toward something better with Pink Eye’s storyline, but there’s a definite downward trajectory of things that tries to ape the tragic circumstances of the first Mad Max but lacks the empathy to pull it off. Hope and Glory are handled very badly, and given how boldly Fury Road attempts to address decades of female victimization in action films - particularly the brand of revenge and exploitation stories that Miller was trading on in 1979 - it feels like a stridently backward step.
I’d like to say I gave this game a fair shake, but in reality I got to the tutorial for the combat and deleted it immediately.
Sorry! I tried to actually play a Waypoint 101 game finally, but life is too short to play another game with batman combat.
I sure hope that dog was okay.
It’s kinda funny how increasingly relevant this pick has become now that we know Avalanche are making Rage 2.
I was just talking about how a spiritual game in the spirit of the mad max game would be a good thing too
I couldn’t care less about Rage 1 but they got my attention
That RAGE 2 trailer didn’t do much for me, but I liked a lot of what Avalanche did in their Mad Max game, so with them being the developer for RAGE 2 it seems that’ll be the closest thing to a Mad Max sequel game we’re going to get.
Does this game have the most ineffectual jump of all time? It’s so bad.
I really dug this game, I never thought I cared much for how cars feel but this one really feels like all the vehicles have a lot of weight. The Combat felt like it needed to be faster than it is, I often felt like I would hit for counters and never land them often when I needed them. Another factor that I think was a major disappointment for myself and other fans of the films was the lack of different vehicles to fight. You almost always fought a pack of similarly sized vehicles during any convoy quests and never were there anything remotely like a 18 wheeler or modified larger trucks or anything that would have inserted some variety into the mix. Even some motorcycles would have been EXTREMELY fun in the large open environments. Fighting the same sorts of guys is one thing, having only barely a handful of differing car types in a franchise that has a lot of focus on vehicles is a bit of a let down. Otherwise I loved the feeling of moving through very empty and lonely spaces only to stumble upon a pack of raiders wanting nothing more than to strip you and your vehicle to pieces.
I’m about 7 hours into this game now and it’s better than I expected it to be. The game looks stunning, from the dust clouds coming off moving cars to the hazy fires burning in the distance at gastown, even if the world is pretty bland and colorless (which I guess isn’t surprising, for a post-apoc setting).
I’m enjoying the combat as well, surprisingly; I really didn’t think another open world batman combat game would do anything for me, but weirdly I’m finding myself more engaged with this implementation of it than the versions in say, arkham asylum or shadow of mordor, though it’s possible my tastes have changed since I played them.
Character and story-wise I’m really liking chumbucket, which is good, because so far the game hasn’t introduced any other endearing characters or a real motivation for the plot, other than “max wants a new car”. It’s a shame, because the moment-to-moment gameplay is pretty good so far, between the combat and the visuals, but it’s lacking in anything to really string those moments together in a compelling way.
All in all I’d rate this game “interesting” / 10 so far and I hope it surprises me some more.
Hey, Max has a bum leg! Cut him some slack!
I think I might write something longer but now that I’m done binging the game in under 48 hours I have a quick question for the thread.
Is the wedding cutscene the least earned cutscene in recent memory?
Hey wow when I said I wanted this game to surprise me I meant in a good way, and not by seemingly missing like two thirds of the cutscenes explaining who any of these apparently very important characters are. I’ve got no idea how much game there is to go now (I just finished the “big chief” story beat established at the start of the game) but good lord I have extremely low hopes for where it goes for here.
The combat’s still pretty good though I guess??
It’s not great but it’s hardly a worst of all time level scene to me. It’s not so far up its ass in unearned-ness as like, any time The Speaker is in a cutscene in Destiny or anything or like the entire course of both Homefront games or something, there’s way worse out there.
Hey, not sure if I’ll be picking this up, but the game is on sale for $5 on Humble right now!
Chumbucket feels like a character ripped straight out of someone’s Apocalyse World campaign. And I love that the menu descriptions for every item in the game is written from Chumbucket’s perspective. I wish more games would stuff like that instead of the typical “encyclopedia entry” format.
Also, can we talk about how the game has Rockstar-sponsored DLC, with canonical lore entries???
Fast and agile like the night lizard, sharp as the chrome sliver of the crescent moon, she cuts through the jugular of any and all, spraying those who thirst with glorious crimson
The big gulper. Jaw stretched with feverish thirst. Thrice the power of the glimmering liquid stars for the one who rocks this hood hanger.
The star of the desert, calling to all true believers. Follow me, and thirst no more! Blinded by the bling, your enemies will fall from parchness.
I know it’s essentially just ad copy. But I really like the idea that somewhere out in the wasteland is some kind of dudebro death cult worshipping a crate of ancient mystical energy drinks.
a couple hours into my first waypoint 101 on time: this really just makes me dream of a wages of fear game. my favorite moment so far was driving into the buzzard camp, trying to drive carefully around traps, tension ramping before fireballs started flying.
i just got the nitrous boost; some of you probably paused at exactly the same moment if your installation process hadn’t fully completed yet. i won’t mind plugging a couple hours into this here and there over the next few weeks, though i doubt i’ll devour it like i did yakuza kiwami.
(also, i’m maybe the only person who still enjoys batman combat! it’s better than what Assassin’s Creed’s iterations have been since black flag. it’s easy, it works best in sleeping dogs tonally, but i still like watching for counters and managing my space effectively. c’est la)
Yeah, I thought the combat was handled pretty well. It conveys the physicality of fist-vs-bone (or lead pipe-vs-bone) in a way that suits the world here, and feels distinct from the more comic-book style of the Arkham games.
I think the game over-relies on it compared to the car combat, but the mechanics themselves are solid.
I’m finding in my second playthrough that its like 3 sorta thin mad max style stories all stretched across a game where the world is just a little too big. Especially when you clear a region and there is just nothing to do as you drive. Some of the writing is okay, it just isn’t meaty enough, if that makes sense.
Has anyone else run into serious framrate issues? I have a bad tendency to play for too long and only leave the PS4 on rest, but this is the first game that ever made me have to stop and rest my eyes because of the slowdown.