Away from the harsh light of the Californian heat, it seemed appropriate to then sit in a darkened theatre with a screen filled with sun-drenched deserts. One of the surprise announcements of E3 was the up-coming Mad Max game. It was first revealed at Sony's press conference in the form of a teaser video, but I was lucky enough to get a run-through of pre-alpha code at the Warner Bros. stand in LA.
Showing us the ropes was Creative Director of the game, Frank Rooke. The gameplay demo opened up with an in-game mission, one of many set in the sprawling open-world of The Wastelands. Anyone who watched the original movies will know that this is a desolate and harsh environment. Sand dunes spread for miles, only differentiated by the occasional tomb of wrecked cars. The developers have done a beautiful job of bringing this all to life and just looking at the environment design was thirsty work.
To survive The Wastelands, players will spend a lot of their time traversing in their own custom built vehicle. As seen in the movies Mad Max, these cars are like an extension of your own person. You'll be able to fully customise your ride, adding on battering rams to infiltrate enemy out-posts, armour-plates for protection and a variety of offensive weapons such as spikes or turrets.
The gameplay is broken down into two key areas, both of which play an equally important part. One is car combat, where Max will need to chase down and take out other mercenary drivers in The Wastelands. On top of your own driving skills, here the physical attributes of your vehicle will play a large part as well. For example the weight and balance of your car will affect how effective it is to ram rivals off the road.
While driving, there are plenty of combat controls too. For instance Max can target enemies and shoot from his windows, or even activate built-in harpoon guns to grapple with enemy vehicles. We watched as Frank's colleague ripped a tyre from an enemy's car to send them crashing into a large rock. Later on, we saw fuel tanks being targeted to engulf a car in a fiery ball of high-octane death. It looks like high-octane brutality, and we liked what we saw.
The other section of the game takes place on foot and Max is equally deadly without his automobile. Along with his trusty shotgun, which appears to be his primary weapon, you'll get the chance to use sniper rifles, as demonstrated against outpost defences from afar. His melee abilities are equally brutal too, as we saw Max using close-quarter weapons and his bare knuckles to take down enemies stylishly and gratuitously. Without hands-on experience, it's hard to say how fun it is to play. But it looked damn inviting and we can't wait to play it for ourselves.
Because of the setting and cowboy-esque persona of Max, it could almost be described as Red Dead Redemption on wheels. The game's decent sized map is full of enemy outposts, missions, side objectives, key characters and areas to explore. After just a short while, Mad Max the game, which is intended to tie in with an up-coming reboot movie, is shaping up to be a lot of fun. We don't have release details yet, but the game is stylish, gritty and raw. Just like the original films, but without a Mel Gibson in sight - which is a good thing indeed.
Pros: No Mel Gibson
Cons: Movie tie-ins can be troublesome