Okay. I have beaten Mad Max: The Video Game. Yep, it’s a sandbox game. Yep, there are some seriously redundant quests (like, *SERIOUSLY* redundant… you have the opportunity to raid 196 little homesteads on the map. Some have hundreds of units of currency… some have two units of currency). Yep, you drive a *LOT*. A lot a lot.
That said, if you are a fan of the good old fashioned sandbox where there are about a thousand things to do and every single one of them is on the map once you find the vantage point from which to see them… man, you realize that Mad Max was *MADE* for sandbox games. You drive around! You get in fights! You drive around! You encounter people! They give monologues! You get in fights! You drive around!
Now, if you’re not really into gameplay per se but you *LOVE* the universe of Mad Max: Fury Road and you want to know whether this video game will give you another wonderful bouquet of hours in this wonderful world… oh, it will. My goodness it will.
Not only will you spend the game hating (and gently correcting) the society created by Immortian Joe (and his son Scabrous Scrotus), you will spend a non-trivial amount of time finding artifacts from before (and during) the apocalypse itself. A picture of a small child and a puppy with the words “new doggie! couldn’t you just eat him up?” and you hear Max muse aloud “this was when dogs were pets and not food”. A picture of a bidet next to a toilet and Max wonders how much clean water we just wasted. A picture of a wedding and we hear Max ask “Didn’t I get married?”
Which brings me to something I’ve seen video games do that I rarely see done in movies (unless the movie is deliberately trying to make a particular point): the abject failure.
If you’ve seen Afro Samurai (an *AWESOME* cartoon), you remember the awesome scene where Afro fights Kuma on the mountain temple. Well, in the video game, there’s a scene where Afro says “you seen the show… but you and I both know that (events) didn’t go down like that.” And we go on to get a much, much *DARKER* resolution to the fight between Afro and Kuma.
It was actually pretty cool.
Anyway, the Mad Max game does something similar. Not really in contrast to the movie but as an exploration of a deeper theme. (Warning: Spoilers for both the game and the movie follow) Max meets a couple of people who remind him of his wife and daughter, fights against doing anything to help them with every sinew, eventually gives in and helps them and tries to protect them… and he *FAILS*. He fails *HARD*. Now, I suppose that this is mirrored in the Fury Road movie by the death of the pregnant Angharad… another woman and child that Max fails to protect… In any case, the scene depicted in the video game is much, much darker than the somewhat similar scene in the movie. The illusion of agency that the game gives up until this point makes the failure much more of a punch to the gut.
Anyway, the game continues using the failure as a bit of impetus for Max to re-find solace in his madness but not before getting a hot steaming ladleful of Revenge.
And it makes me look forward to the next game (and movie… whichever comes first) all the more.
Maybe there won’t be a failure quite this significant, next time.
So… what are you playing?
(Picture is “Untitled” by our very own Will Truman. Used with permission.)