E3 2015 – Mad Max hands-on preview: Boom Stick!

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Mad Max is all about off-the-wall (and road) carnage, offering players the chance to explore their baser nature while beating enemies to a pulp and engaging with bizarre unique characters while taking over the desert wasteland. It already sounds like a dream come true, but the reality of it is even better.

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The demo started me off with a specific objective – take over a nearby base. I could have ignored the objective completely and just driven off to explore the area, but I decided to meet with some nearby rats who could inform of me of weak points in the base. After hearing about the risks ahead, I was able to jump into my vehicle and use a high-powered sniper rifle to take out nearby snipers. Of course, while checking out the base through my sniper scope, I saw some red barrels. We all know there is only one thing to do, so I shot them, resulting in a glorious explosion.

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Next up, it was time to take out a tower. I thought I could boost while driving into it, knocking it down. Instead, I stopped dead. Undeterred, I harpooned the structure, pulling it down with pure force. That harpoon is incredibly effective; later on in vehicular combat, I used it to pull off wheels, doors, and even drag drivers out of their cars – the fact that they continue to be dragged behind you until you release them makes it even more satisfying.

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After reducing the base’s defences, it was time for a frontal assault. Using that harpoon again, I pulled down the gate and opened fire with my shotgun. The gun action is rather cool, allowing players to aim if desired, or shoot from the hip. With a wide range of weapons, including found melee weapons, that part of combat is crazy and fun.

Of course, you can just shoot, at a certain point you need to use your fists. This means a combination of light and heavy attacks that can be strung together to form devastating combos. It feels rather similar to Shadow of Morder in its combat, with a combination of counter and attack opening up the opportunity for awesome finishers.

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After taking out everyone in the base, it was time to strip it of all its valuables, breaking down some collectibles and gather tons of scrap. Once I had enough scrap, I could even upgrade my knuckle dusters and other equipment. With loot icons easily visible on the map, it’s easy to get into OCD plundering.

After finishing off the base, I was lucky enough to get some time to roam the countryside. That’s where the game really opened up. First, I went to go see a strange character, one who is able to upgrade the player’s abilities. But it includes a bizarre cutscene and makes it much more than just seeing a guy about getting more health.

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The desert may be a wasteland, but it’s not totally barren. There was just so much to explore. I saw light glinting in the distance and decided to check it out from my sniper scope. Looking down the scope, I saw that it was actually snipers posted on a distant tower. There’s only one thing to do, of course, so I killed them, and blew up some red tanks for good measure. The explosions and mayhem made me feel giddy.

Continuing to look out into the distance, I saw a cloud of dust getting kicked up by a bunch of vehicles. It was an enemy convoy that could be taken over, which is exactly what I decided to do. Catching up with the convoy wasn’t as easy as I thought, but it was definitely worthwhile as I used my harpoon to drag them around, beat them up and generally show them who’s boss.

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It’s all part of a bid to decrease Scrotus’ control over the area. Engaging with these various open world events decrease his control and increase yours – beyond being fun and explosive, you’re also being productive. The areas of control are clearly shown on the map and there is a ton to do in the game – when zooming out while playing the demo, I could see just how enormous the game world is and filled with a ton of markers. With snipers to kill, convoys to overcome, bases to takeover plus loot to find, players could easily get lost in the wasteland cleaning up all the baddies instead of following the guide markers.

Mad Max was a ridiculous amount of fun to play. From ramming cars and towers to harpooning enemies or sniping from a distance, there are all kinds of enjoyment to be had. In some ways, it feels like a wilder form of Shadow of Mordor, which makes me incredibly happy. It’s an open-world sandbox with literal sand and it’s got enough craziness to keep me entertained for hours.

Last Updated: June 17, 2015

Zoe Hawkins

Wielding my lasso of truth, I am the combination of nerd passion and grammar nazi. I delve into all things awesome and geek-tastic. You can read more of my words over at www.borngeek.co.za, or just follow me on all the social networks to get the true range of my sarcasm and wit.

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