E3 2013: Mad Max Impressions

How many people still remember the movie Mad Max? It was an Australian film released in 1979 staring an unknown Mel Gibson that spawned two sequels, Mad Max 2 and Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome. The movie was set in a dystopic future where the world’s supply of oil is almost gone. Society has broken down and motorcycle gangs roam the wasteland scavenging for fuel and anything else they can find. At E3 2013, developer Avalanche Studios and Publisher WB Games announced that a Mad Max video game is currently in development. The game is set in the same dystopic world where players will take on the role of Max who must scavenge to survive. In the game, Max has lost the Interceptor and must build another car called the Magnum Opus to take its place. Alongside Max is a mutant savant mechanic named Chum Bucket who fixes and builds the Magnum Opus. While on the E3 show floor, I watched a live demo at the Avalanche booth.

Mad Max 3During the live demo, Max had to take out a roving gang of scavengers to acquire a harpoon gun to get past a large gate. Max jumped into his modified Magnum Opus with Chum Bucket in the back of the car and chased down three vehicles to get to the gang’s leader. Max runs two cars off the road, destroying them in the process. Watching this, I couldn’t help but think how this part reminds me of the Burnout franchise. Unlike in Burnout, the drivers from the two vehicles jumped from their car to Max’s, prompting him to use the double barrel shotgun to remove them from his vehicle. Chum Bucket fired a harpoon gun, pulling the spikes off the rear wheel of the gang leader’s vehicle. This made me wonder why Max needed a harpoon gun if he already has a harpoon gun in the Magnum Opus. Max shoots the fuel tank, catching the vehicle on fire and eventually runs it off the road, acquiring the gang leader’s harpoon gun.

Mad Max features a form of car combat set in an open world where players can drive anywhere, get in or out of their vehicle and fight hand to hand at any time. Max carries the iconic double barrel shotgun and a knife for dispatching enemies quickly with the majority of combat outside the vehicle done hand to hand. Max can pick up other weapons along the way including a long barrel sniper rifle he keeps in the back of his car. The vehicles in Mad Max are all modeled after the actual cars from the movie. Depending on the enemy vehicle, they may have large steel bumpers for ramming and spiked wheels. The developers designed all the vehicles to use real physics that add weight to determine the vehicle’s handling.

Max can upgrade the Magnum Opus any number of ways including changing the body, engine, wheels, and adding weapons and armor. The developer had Max add a heavier bumper, increasing the weight of his vehicle. This was compensated for by adding a bigger engine to overcome the added weight. Max can raid bandit camps to scavenge for valuable resources to upgrade his vehicle and weapons. He can also travel the desert roads and risk encounters with other roving gangs or just drive over the dunes to avoid them altogether with the right vehicle modifications. Players will become the iconic Max and must make some difficult decisions in order to escape the wasteland. Mad Max is set for a 2014 release on PlayStation 3, PlayStation4, PC, Xbox 360 and Xbox One. Along with the game release in 2014, a new movie is in development titled Mad Max: Fury Road staring British actor Tom Hardy.

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