Tag Archives: road

Game Review: Mad Max

Some of you may be familiar with Mad Max, but some of you won’t. So what is Mad Max? In one word: glorious.Image result for mad max

I mean that in the truest sense of the word. It feels out of this world. At first glance, one might think it’s they are over-the-top movies, but they’re much, much more than that.

Everything in this world feels painfully real. The suffering, the tragedies, the characters, the wasteland, … The films have a very distinct style that has influenced pop culture more than you might think: it launched Mel Gibson’s career, the raiders in Fallout are heavily inspired by those in Mad Max and it spawned countless rip-offs by Italian and Turkish directors, as well as American ones. I feel like I need to discuss the films briefly before getting to the game. After all, that is what inspired its creators to make the game.

The great thing about the Mad Max films – and the game – is that they all feel different. The first film was very grounded in reality and quite slow-paced, though that is not a bad thing. The second film, The Road Warrior, was generally considered to be the best one. It established the character as he is still known and loved. He’s deeply flawed and haunted by his past, but that makes him feel very real. The third film, Beyond Thunderdome, has its problems; most of them caused by Hollywood mingling. And then there’re last year’s Fury Road, now regarded as the best of all four films. Tom Hardy plays Mad Max, not Mel Gibson, and his performance is excellent.

Now Max is a bit of a difficult character to talk about, because he is both simple and complex at the same time. He’s simple, because most of his actions throughout the films and game are selfish. Even helping people is often because it makes things more convenient for him, but at the same time he won’t harm the innocent. He doesn’t really care about who lives or dies, as this is a harsh world and survival is key, but he won’t just kill anyone for the sake of killing or just for fun. It is a very hard thing to explain. It’s almost instinctive. You just understand him on an emotional level, not an intellectual one. You just know if something is in-character for him to do or not, but you can’t really explain why. I say this, because there’s something I want to discuss at the end of this article after the SPOILERS warning.

Now onto the game! I’m not exactly sure when the game is set in the timeline, but it feels like it takes place right before the events of the fourth film: Fury Road. But, like with the entire Mad Max saga, the exact time has never been important. You start off the game losing the famous Interceptor, the car Max drives, and battling Lord Scrotus. You put a chainsaw through his skull, but he survives and throws you off a fast moving truck. You then set out on a very simple quest: get your car back and kill Lord Scrotus. This is very much in theme with the films, where the story is often quite simple and just a structure for strong characters.

And strong characters is what this game has. The portrayal of Max is pretty much spot-on (except for a little thing that bugs me in the ending). You find a hunchback named Chumbucket who is a car nut and believes you are some sort of Saint sent by the Angel to clear the wasteland. He offers you a car that you can upgrade and change the appearance of during the game. He is a fantastic character, obsessed with cars and fixing cars and thinking you’re some sort of deity. And of course, Max goes along with it, because it helps him. Where in other games having a companion around can be frustrating, Chumbucket is nothing but helpful. He brings you the car when you signal him with a flare gun, fixes the car when it’s damaged and most of his dialogue is really entertaining.

Visually, the game encapsulates the look and feel of the films very well. It’s a gorgeous game with a wonderful art style. The graphics won’t blow you away, but it’s not trying to either. It’s aiming for aesthetics rather the latest and greatest in graphical settings.

The story is very simple, as I mentioned before. There isn’t that much to talk about here, other than that it’s very much in theme with the films. The end goal is to get your car back and kill Lord Scrotus, but it can take you a while to get there. You can choose to just follow the main quests and do the bare minimum to unlock new upgrades for your car, so you can continue with the missions, but that will make the game a lot more difficult. Still, you’ll probably have to put in twelve to fifteen hours to beat this game in a hurry.

As a sort of side story, you can try to loosen the grip that Lord Scrotus has on the different regions by doing certain mini missions. You can clear out camps, destroy their totems and sniping towers, clear minefields, et cetera. Lowering the threat levels in regions unlocks more upgrades for Max and his car. This is where the game really shines in my eyes, as it makes the gameplay more varied. Clearing the camps requires more combat, destroying the totems and sniping towers is mostly done from inside the car and you need a special buggy that can carry the mine-sniffing dog to clear out minefields. Some camps have difficult bosses or certain things you have to destroy. Having done almost everything there is to do in this game, I racked up a very respectable 54 hours in this game. Not bad at all for having paid less than €15 for it in a Steam sale.

There aren’t a whole lot of negative to this game, I feel. The driving controls could’ve been tighter, but most of the time they’re just fine. Two locations in the game are locked off after the mission is over, which means that if you didn’t pick up the collectables or scrap, they’ll be lost forever. This is odd, since none of the other locations become inaccessible. Lastly (and I’ll get into more detail in a bit) there’s one thing that happens right at the end that I feel is out of character for Max, which makes the ending a bit less enjoyable for me.

So overall I highly recommend it if you like the Mad Max films, but even as a general gamer, it’s a very fun game. The combat is fun, modding the car gives you lots of options and the characters are very enjoyable. The highest praise I could possibly give it is that if  I were to rank this game alongside the films, the order would be (from best to “worst”): Fury Road – THIS GAME – Road Warrior – Original Mad Max – Beyond Thunderdome. So yeah, very close second 🙂

 

 

–SPOILERS FOR THE END OF THE GAME BELOW–

 

 

This is what happens at the end of the game that bothers me a bit. After the final boss battle, we see the truck that Lord Scrotus is driving close to the edge of a cliff. Max decides to ram it with his car and Chumbucket, still believing the car is the sacred tool, sent by the Angel to be used by you, doesn’t want you to destroy it. While charging at the truck, he climbs on the bonnet of the car, trying to convince you to stop. Max tells him to jump of and Chumbucket says he’s willing to die with the car. Max then proceeds to jump out of the car, right before it hits the truck and both vehicles fall off the cliff. I know Max is a character who will do pretty much anything to achieve his goal, but I feel like killing Chumbucket was very much out of character. Max doesn’t hurt people, unless he feels it’s absolutely necessary and I feel like killing Chumbucket was not. You may disagree with that, but it’s how I feel about it.

And the Award for Worst DLC Goes To…..

Fallout: New Vegas- Honest Hearts

I know what you’re thinking: this is bad writing. You shouldn’t reveal the answer immediately. Build some suspense! The reason I chose to do so anyway is not because some people like a tl;dr version, or because I’m pretentious and I do whatever the hell I so desire. No, it’s because I’d like to talk about Fallout first, and why this DLC was so disappointing. Prepare yourselves, because I have a feeling this’ll be a long one again.

In all honesty, I have not played the first two major instalments, though I did acquire them through GOG.com a while back and plan to play them some time. My first introduction was with Fallout 3. It didn’t run well, especially its DLC had serious performance issues, but I revered it nevertheless. It was so much fun. The engine used by Bethesda, its developer, has never been well optimised. Not for PC, not for consoles. Not for Fallout and not for The Elder Scrolls. But this is not a performance analysis, so I won’t go in-depth right now.

I fell in love with the world. Set some 250 years in the future, in a world where people in the fifties thought “Well, this is it: he pinnacle of art, style and technology.” Everything is inspired by old technology and the styling of the fifties. Monochromatic computer screens, old jazz and rhytm & blues music, clothing (what’s left of it), … Even futuristic items seem old. It just oozes with charm.

Story-wise I prefer the third instalment over New Vegas, hands down. I plan on comparing the two in a later article at some point in the future, so I’ll keep it at that for now. I even liked the five DLC-packs that were released. Broken Steel continued the story. It wasn’t incredible, but it was serviceable. Operation Anchorage was fun and brought a tonne of nice, new items to the party. Mothership Zeta was interesting and fun, though the story didn’t grab my as such. Point Lookout was my favourite, with it’s unique swamp location, barely touched by the nuclear bombs, and interesting storyline. And The Pitt was my least favourite, though still well above the quality of the DLC in New Vegas.

In New Vegas, we have four DLC packs, instead of the five in Fallout 3. I maintain that I prefer quality over quantity, so I didn’t complain from the start. But neither really rocked my boat. Maybe I felt less invested, because I find the world of New Vegas less intriguing to begin with, but regardless I should have had some investment.

The first two I played were Dead Money and Lonesome Road. The former annoyed me so much, I considered dropping out of the game entirely. Nothing else in both games gave me this feeling, ever, but this story was uninteresting, and the location was highly unappealing. I take it it was the intention to look unappealing, but it should not be revolting or appalling. I was relieved to finally finish and return to the Mojave.

The latter started very promising, in what looked like an abandoned nuclear missile silo. It was slowly paced and there were very few enemies. It almost seemed like this was created so the player would get invested in the story and atmosphere. A mostly non-combat DLC to teach us more about the world. But things quickly turned around once I progressed and got out of the silo. More combat, a mysterious figure that I couldn’t care less about on the radio, and nothing innovative in terms of world building. Like an Olympic diver performing a perfect reverse two-and-a-half somersault and landing flat on his stomach; promising, yet disappointing.

Then there were two more: Honest Hearts and Old World Blues. The latter had an interesting world in which scientists were isolated in a crater full of interesting locations, where not-so-ethical experiments had been performed. The story was decent and the “fifties-mad-scientist” vibe was fun, but after having been let down by most of the rest of the game, I still didn’t enjoy it as much as I probably should have.

 

Which brings me to Honest Hearts. Set in Utah, an area barely touched by the nuclear war of before, it had a decent setting. That part reminded me of the Point Lookout DLC from Fallout 3. What’s the story like? I couldn’t tell you. I beat it and I have no idea what it was about. How’s that possible? I’ll tell you: poor game design.

Let’s go back to Old World Blues (and in essence, every other map in Fallout for that mattar) for a second. Fallout has always been about exploring, as have all the Elder Scrolls games been. You could freely walk around the map and explore. You’d find new locations and some gave me new side quests, but none of them interfered with the main storyline of the game or any of its DLC.

(Map of Fallout 3, with all discoverable locations)

In Honest Hearts, I immediately became confused when the party I was travelling with all died within two minutes of arrival, and not ten minutes after first being introduced to them. I failed about half a dozen quests because of that, so I decided to load my previous save and try again. They all died again and the same thing happened where I failed a bunch of quests. Slightly aggravated and confused, I decided to look up if I was doing something wrong. Turned out it was a scripted event and could not be prevented, which means it was part of the main storyline.

Now why would I fail half a dozen quests for that? Why would the developers give me the impression that all the members in my party had little side quests they could’ve given me? The only quest remaining right now, was (verbatum) “Recover the map of Zion Canyon.”, pointing at a location all the way in the utmost North-Eastern corner of the map, with me all the way down South.

Everything felt like this was created by a fan or something, not by the actual developers. A mod, maybe. The writing and phrasing of the quests felt off and confusing. And then, a colossal error in judgement… The maps in the DLC are usually not that big, with thirty or so locations, allowing you to explore them in only a few hours. So as I often did, I explored the whole region first. It makes sense, doesn’t it? Especially considering the only quest available right now was “Recover the map of Zion Canyon.”

This has never been an issue. EVER. Not in Point Lookout, not in Old World Blues, not in any of the huge maps of the main storyline of the game. On my travels through the map of Honest Hearts, I encountered a few NPCs who had specific names, not just “Raider” or something else vague. Usually, these are people who are important in some (side) quest. Now in the main game, or any the other DLC packs, if you encounter a place where you find someone with a specific name, they will rarely attack you before engaging you in conversation. This makes sense. It allows you to get involved in some quest or back out of the situation, without killing that person and locking yourself out of a quest.

Not in Honest Hearts, though. I encountered two or three people with an actual name, who all attacked me on sight. I had little choice but to retaliate. They didn’t have any important items on them, like notes are keys to something, so at first I figured they were just minor characters. Why would I assume otherwise, when this game and its predecessor have never worked like that? I figured wrong. They were vital characters; leaders of local tribes. So when I finally explored the whole map and recovered the map of Zion Canyon, my screen went black. I thought the game crashed for a second, until a video started playing about how I had influenced Zion by killing these characters. Tribes disbanded, influences changed, and so on. It talked about everything I had done and I hadn’t done anything yet but explore and recover a map!

FNV

I can’t be the only one who explored before continuing the quest and be surprised by a sudden cut-off. Guess what, turns out I’m not. Turns out more people were kind of angry and confused. Turns out that in the beginning of the story, right after your party members have been killed, a character important to the storyline is somewhere behind or among the attackers and shoots one of them in the back (on the picture above marked with a red box). Me, being all worked up because of the battle, not realising he’s important and since he’s some distance away, I shoot him down. Since this is in the middle of a fight with half a dozen of people at the same time, I didn’t pay attention to the fact that he had a specific name. Killing him causes his tribe to turn hostile and in turn creates a ripple effect throughout the whole community of tribes, causing their leaders to attack me on sight too.

I guess, “technically”, it’s my fault for not paying attention to every single person on screen during a battle and thinking “Ooh, is he an enemy or someone important?”. I apologise for being kind of busy fighting for my life while bullets whiz around my head. I also apologise for having been confused by the demise of my recently acquainted party members, including the leader, who I though would be integral to the story and with me for the most part of the game. I should have played this open-world game more linearly, and I’m equally sorry I could not resist the urge to explore first, rather than ignore the world the developers have so painstakingly created around me, and just hurry through the quests.

Oh wait, no I’m not. This is crap and they should be ashamed.

EDIT: This, of course, is not the worst DLC ever and I’m sure plenty of people enjoyed it, but it felt really frustrating, and I do maintain the beginning of this DLC is highly confusing from the beginning and that little mistake at the beginning ruined the whole storyline for me. That’s what bothers me most and it’s poor design.

Review #012: Aladdin (GB) ~ Terribleness on the go.

images

GameFaq’s Link

I have a cousin who I went to each Saturday. One day he lend me DuckTales on the gameboy, which was a great blast. But I do remember one game that he lend too with it. A game so bad, I’m not even going to finish it before I write a review of it. This game on the SNES isn’t that bad, but the gameboy version is terrible. I got this game from a friend, when she didn’t want to keep her gameboy games anymore. I was so happy that I got new free games. But when I saw this cartrigde, I wish I could cry right there on the playground. Man, bad memories of this game. I’m even putting on a sad face while writing this review. Sadly enough, this game is playing next to me on my SuperGameboy and my SNES. It’s already clear that I’ll rip this game a new one, but how bad is it actually? Let’s dive right into Aladdin, without a magic carpet to save our ass. 

Flawed or bad?

disneys_aladdinSome games might have a few flaws. Or just have some things not polish. But this game is a joke. Let’s start analysing this insult of Virgin Interactive by looking at the options.

The difficulty levels are not what you expect from a normal game. Easy is practice and hard is difficult. Yes, I kid you not, the screen says literally “difficult”. Signs for a great game. Also they feel the need to be special and or grammatically correct. Somewhat. The options for the music and sound are displayed as follows:

“Music is: ON”

“Sound FX are: ON”

Why? These “is” and “are” aren’t doing the game any good. It’s silly and just lines of code lost for the actual game. And they could have used it. Oh yeah, a minor annoyance is that you can’t scroll back that the difficulty menu. But that’s nitpicky me.

So, let’s move on with this review by pressing the B button to get out of the options menu. Wait, it’s one of those games. You need to go to “exit” to go back to the main screen. Oh yeah, “exit” instead of “return”. Whoopsiedasy.

The gameplay, my god, the gameplay.

172924-disney-s-aladdin-game-boy-screenshot-shimmy-across-the-beamsIn the name of all the holy and good cartrigdes, be happy that I played this joke for you so that I can warn you about this game. First of all, this adventure and platform game suffers from one major flaw that is also quite visible from the menu. There isn’t a save or load option. This is the kind of game that could have benefited from this feature. Like the first Super Mario Land on the gameboy, this is one of the games you have to play in one sitting. And that isn’t good at all for a handheld game. No, since usually you play these kind of games on the bus or at the doctor’s office. So, you wish you could save.

The controls are weird at best. But at the start of the game, you don’t have any guide or nothing to explain you how this game works. Let me give you one hint. Press the select button at the start of the first level so you don’t waste any apples. Yup, they start you with an attack that is limited. And without giving you a slight hint that you can press select to switch weapons, the game gets annoying really soon.

While I do realize that I ranted about game tutorials more holding your hands these days, this game should have had at least an easier first part. The very first part of this game is filled with all sorts of things. You barely get time to get used to the game mechanics or the controls. You are expected to play this one with already knowing every sort of enemy or hazard.

I just noticed this too, while writing this review, I have to pause the game and then write a bit. And the pause screen actually kindly reminds you that the game is paused with displaying a “PAUSED!” message at the bottom left of your screen. How lovely that they think we are stupid people. Just like the enemy AI in this game. I could stand in visible range of an enemy and it kept just standing there. How lovely. Also, some enemies seem to have a very special attack pattern. The one the animators gave them. And your goal is to be faster then the animation.

All the apples of the nopes. 

For a Gameboy game, the flaws don’t stop there. The music is the next victim of my critic-ing. And it’s terrible. The menu music is true to the 172925-disney-s-aladdin-game-boy-screenshot-these-white-platformmovie. But the music in game is just a loop of a 1-2 minutes melody and it gets annoying and repetitive extremely quick. And there is no way to go in game to the option menu to put it off. They forgot to program that in I suppose.

The first camel you pass in the game, which can be used as a mini-trampoline, actually spits out knives from it’s mouth. This happens after you see an enemy cheat by walking over hot coals. Which is actually a black puddle on your screen. That brings us to the graphics. They are bland. Somethings even don’t represent that they are supposed to be. The apples look like bombs. And who dies of apples, except from chocking on them, anyways?

Also, the attacking of enemies is flawed. Their melee attack reaches further then yours. Which means that you need to use your valuable apples to take no damage. And believe me, you are going to need that health since it’s so rare to find a health pick up. In addition to that, you don’t get explained what the power ups do. One of the first power ups I came across is one that wipes out all enemies on screen. And guess what, there was only one enemy on screen. ONE, for NOPE’s sake, ONE!

Oh, and what’s up with the jumping? You can’t attack when you are in the air. In addition to that, when you fall from a platform, you are locked vertically. So, if you see a vase dropping down on you, it’s damage you can’t avoid. Oh yeah, cheap game. Very cheap. But lucky me, the damage doesn’t get taken since the animation was still playing of Aladdin getting up after the fall. And this ended after the vase actually hit me. Oh joy.

Also, what did I say from the AI before? Further in the first level, I was able to get an enemy in attack mode without even the ability to hit me. Wait, why isn’t it coming closer to me then? Oh yeah, movie game. That explains a lot. So I destroyed this enemy with my rock apples. Which brings me to another complaint. There is no clear indication which weapon you have selected. You just need to guess or to press the attack button to know that.

The decent animations of the characters are ruined by the white outline around them. Which makes those very clear, but not the places where you can and can’t jump on. Since this game isn’t so linear, this is another issue.

And then my copy decided to freeze. Which it often does. So, end of this review! On to the conclusion.

Conclusion

The good:

+ Follows the movie story quite well.

+ It’s exists for reviewers to rip apart when they need to review a bad game.

The bad:

– Terrible AI.

– Lacking save and load feature.

– Bland graphics.

– Annoying music.

– Major flaws in the controls.

– Too steep of a learning curve.

– Nothing of the game gets explained.

– Bland sound effects and some parts could use sound effects.

– Difficult even on easy.

– …

My advise

When you are a Gameboy collector, get this game. But let it gather dust. As a hobby gameboy gamer, don’t even spend money on this title. You’ll regret it for sure. There aren’t many games I don’t finish for a review but this is one of them. I had trouble finding good points to defend this game.

This was a promising game though, but the lack of so many things and screwed up basics make this game a shouting fest for adventure and platform gamers. I forgot to mention a few things in my review like the sound and the enemy always being able to hit you first, but it’s clear that this game has more flaw then Swish cheese has holes.

And if you would excuse me, I need to play better games now to finish up other reviews of actually good games. Thanks for reading and feel free to leave in the comments what your experience is with the game.

Score: 27 / 100