Video Game / Mad Max

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"I know you, you're the driver."
Chumbucket

Mad Max is a post-apocalyptic action-adventure game with vehicular combat elements, set in an open world environment and based on the Mad Max film series. It was developed by Avalanche Studios and published by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and was released for PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4 on September 1, 2015. Completely unrelated to the 1990 NES game of the same name.

The general plot is that Max's beloved V8 Interceptor has been stolen and dismantled by marauders and he ends up working with Chumbucket, a deformed "blackfinger" (mechanic). Chumbucket sees Max as a saint sent by the Angel Combustion to help him complete his car, the Magnum Opus. Max simply sees Chumbucket as a means of getting a replacement vehicle so that he can finally reach an area of the Wasteland called the Plains of Silence and find peace in a world gone mad.

The player takes on the role of titular character, and features a variety of weapons which Max can use to defeat his enemies. Though the shotgun is Max's weapon of choice, ammo is scarce, so melee options are the smarter way to go. The 'thunderstick' is an explosive weapon that can be lanced into an enemy's chest, blowing the victim up. The harpoon can be used in-vehicle with Chum riding along. The Magnum Opus can be combined with a V8 engine and powerful ramming ability to destroy enemies' vehicles and weaponry. Weapons, such as a collapsible sniper rifle and undermounted side burners, can also be added to the Magnum Opus.

The game provides examples of:

  • Alternate Continuity: Subverted - it only looks this way due to George Miller's view of the story as less of a coherent narrative and more as a series of myths and legends about one figure, in which you can usually find quite a bit of inconsistency. Because of the fate of the Interceptor in this game, it seemingly neither fits in with The Road Warrior nor Fury Road, though Gastown is a location here. That said, the Fury Road tie-in comics reveal that Scabrous Scrotus is one of Immortan Joe's sons, shows Max participating in the Gastown races to get a V8 in order to rebuild the Interceptor, and has Max rescuing a child named Glory from the Buzzards (though the events are quite different). Scrotus' lack of appearance in Fury Road, the voices Max starts hearing, and the fact that Max gets the Interceptor back means that the game is something of a prequel to Fury Road. It also explains why Immortan Joe's War Boys were pursuing Max in the first place at the beginning of Fury Road: they were likely out for revenge. The tie-in comics for Fury Road tell another story with similar events; Max makes his way to Gastown to obtain a V8 engine and is later enlisted by Hope to rescue Glory, and they both later get killed are all common plot elements. This ties nicely in with the overall theory that the Mad Max franchise is a mythology rather than anything with solid continuity.
  • Apocalypse How: The world has ended, but as is standard in the series, it's not really clear exactly what happened, though evidence seems to point to "everything, at once." Global warming thawed the ice caps and flooded the world while plagues and war ravaged the population, nukes shredded the already tattered biosphere and dried up the oceans, and the governments collapsed completely as they failed to protect and provide. Most animals went extinct as people ate them to stave off starvation, and everything devolved into the Scavenger World it is today.
  • Artistic License Biology: After Max is shot with an arrow, a dude is used as an IV to nurse him back to health. Either Max is extremely lucky that said dude had his blood type, or he's going to have complications down the line (assuming that neither that dude has O- blood, nor Max has AB blood).
    • According to the in-game lore notes, the character was deliberately converted into a bloodbag for the whole horde, after annoying Scabrus. Assuming the capability of testing blood is lost to the ages, a universal donor blood and rhesus type would still probably have been noted long before simply by empirical testing, as one assumes Max is not the first recipient. Then again, there certainly are a lot of sick people in the Gastown tunnels...
  • Badass Beard: Max sports one in the game. You can even unlock alternate looks that gives him longer hair and a longer beard.
  • Badass Driver: Of course.
  • Big "NO!": After Max discovers he was too late to save Glory (who dies in his arms) and her mother from the hands of Scrotus.
  • Black and Grey Morality: Max certainly isn't the "Saint" Chumbucket believes he is, but it's easy to root for him against the Ax-Crazy Scabrous Scrotus.
  • Blood Sport: The Death Runs qualify, and a part of the game's main quest line even features a fight to the death in a Thunderdome.
  • Body Horror: Scrotus survives having a chainsaw shoved straight through his head in the opening movie. Due to the fact that the blade couldn't be removed without killing him, he wears it like a crown for the rest of the game.
  • Border Patrol: Crossing the boundaries of the map leads to you entering the Big Nothing, where you'll continually take damage until you die.
  • Breakable Weapons: The melee weapons you take from enemies break after a number of hits. You can level an ability that makes them last longer.
  • Bullfight Boss: The Top Dogs all love to charge at Max, which can lead to them charging into the various flame-jets around the arena.
  • Car Fu: The main form of combat when driving around the wastes. Ramming, side-swiping, grinding, it all works. Combined with a boost it makes for fast and brutal fights.
  • Combat Pragmatist: You're on your own in the wasteland and the only thing that matters is survival; those who fought with rules and codes of conduct stopped existing a long time ago.
  • Continuity Nod: Like all of the Mad Max films, the game sort of makes nods at previous movies and stories, such as the War Boys, but they're also not exactly holding continuity.
  • Cool Car: The Magnum Opus, due to being completely customizable and decked with a slew of utilitarian and combat equipment.
    • Max's V8 Interceptor. Intro action scenes aside, the car doesn't seem to die against all odds. Despite being shown to be broken down for parts in the beginning of the game, Scrotus managed to acquire it as his backup vehicle/trophy after having the car reassembled with extra modifications on top. This is followed by a final boss battle that damages the car enough to strip Scrotus' mods off, but not enough to totally destroy the car as Max casually drives it away.
  • Creepy Doll: Areas inhabited by Buzzards sometimes have mannequins placed in a manner of ways, usually giving the impression that you are being watched. This is most obvious in the airport where most Buzzards seem to live but some of their outposts have them as well.
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory!: Sort of, since the game takes place in Australia, the wheel is on the right side of the car, however, since a lots of people are from countries where it's on the left side, they often enter the Magnum Opus by the wrong side. Do it enough and Chumbucket will comment on it.
    • This trope may also apply more traditionally on the PC version of the game. Most PC driving games have the spacebar mapped as the handbrake, while this game has it mapped as the nitro boost by default. So you may find yourself rocketing forward when you mean to stop.
  • Darker and Edgier: Somehow manages to be this even for Mad Max.
  • Deadly Dust Storm: Sandstorms will occasionally kick up, turning the visibility down to near zero. You must find some form of shelter or stay in the car, lest you get hit with the large chunks of scrap flying through the air. Though if your car's armor is weak this won't do you any good. Worse, there are sandstorms that bring lightning storms within them. However, Sandstorms can also yield Motherloot containers, which can give you a ridiculous amount of scrap provided that you survive.
  • The Dev Team Thinks of Everything:
    • Chumbucket will comment if you get into the vehicle on the left side one too many times.
    • If you get into the Magnum Opus and then just sit there for long enough without driving anywhere, Chum will tentatively ask if Max has gone away inside his head again, and if he feels well enough to drive.
    • If you call Chumbucket to bring you the vehicle and Chumbucket hits you, Max will tell him to watch where he's driving and Chumbucket will apologize profusely for hitting Max.
  • Dog Food Diet: Dinki-Di dog food returns as a healing item.
  • Downer Ending: This game somehow manages to have an ending even more depressing than the end of the first movie. You know, the one where his family was killed leaving him a broken shell of a man? Hope and Glory end up getting brutally murdered by Scrotus, triggering the voices that Max start hearing, and Max ends up destroying the Magnum Opus while trying to kill Scrotus, killing Chumbucket in the process.
  • Eldritch Location: The game has a soft border around the world map called the "Big Nothing", a hellish landscape of unending sand and lightning storms.
  • Enlightened Self-Interest: Completing the various Stronghold projects makes it easier for the factions based there to survive in the Wasteland. It also allows Max to resupply whenever he stops by said Stronghold and acquire scrap more easily/in greater quantities.
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: As might be expected, every car in the game explodes in a massive fireball when you kill it. You car is only slightly less volatile; when it runs out of health you get a five second timer to bail out and let Chumbucket repair it, and it explodes if you don't.
  • Evil-Detecting Dog: Driving Chumbucket's dune buggy in minefields is the only way to find landmines to defuse.
  • Flamethrower Backfire: The enemy cars with rear-mounted flamethrowers are vulnerable to having the tanks shot. The explosion this causes usually won't total the vehicle it's mounted on, as those tend to be armored, but it can take out other vehicles (or you) if they're close together in a convoy.
    • A variant: The big fuel storage tanks mounted on the back of convoy leader's vehicles will also start spraying flames when heavily damaged, which frequently causes the demise of their escort vehicles (or you, again).
  • Freak Out: Max near the end, in which he starts hearing voices, possibly leading to his Ambiguous Disorder status in Mad Max: Fury Road.
  • Handicapped Badass: Max still has his busted knee.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: Inverted. Max makes some allies through the game that eventually become the closest things to friends he has. However, he is in so much denial about it that he can't see it. Dog in the dream sequence even points out that it is a bit too late for Max to not make friends.
  • Gameplay and Story Integration: Max has a bad leg from getting shot in the first film. That said, he can't jump very high and some falls cause him to limp temporarily.
  • Humanoid Abomination: The strange tribe of wastelanders known as the Buzzards all seem to be this. For a start, none of them are ever seen without their face-covering gasmasks on and the red light shining from the eyepieces doesn't appear to be any form of electric illumination. Unlike their brief appearance in Mad Max: Fury Road , where they spoke Russian, the ones Max encounters here only seem to communicate in animalistic growls and snarls. They also only ever come out raiding at night, and retreat to their camps and burrows during the day. Finally, whenever one is hit or shot, rather than bleeding red like every other living thing in the wasteland; they bleed a black tar-like substance that closely resembles motor oil.
  • Idiot Savant: Chumbucket, who happens to be an incredibly skilled mechanic, thus proving himself useful to Max and becoming his "sidekick". He's also capable of handling weapons mounted at the vehicle very well.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Multiple enemy factions have turned to cannibalism as a means for survival. Even Max himself in a roundabout sense, as he can eat the maggots growing off a rotting corpse.
  • In-Name-Only: Ultimately averted. Avalanche initially dropped the Australian accents and the setting, admitting to treating it as an entirely new story instead of a Mad Max game, resulting in something that appeared as nothing more than a generic post-apocalyptic game rather than anything resembling the Mad Max series. Although a combination of a petition to have Max voiced by an Australian (eventually revealed to be actor/martial artist Bren Foster), George Miller himself intervening to set down some ground rules for creating the Wasteland, and even had his production company create all the characters, did a great deal to alleviate the concerns of the fans.
  • Interface Spoiler: Let's see, Max plans to go to Gastown and acquire the V8, thus ending the game when he drives off via the Plains of Silence. What are the chances it works out that way when the V8 has its own large upgrade category?
  • Joke Item: One of the unlockable vehicles is the Kaboom Bug. It's as durable as paper, and it's basic gimmick is that it's a drivable bomb.
  • Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: Scabrous Scrotus. He begins as a normal warlord, but something happens to him that turns him into a bloodthirsty monster who can only find solace from his own pain through the suffering of others. Turns out that he survived the chainsaw to the head, albeit taking severe brain damage in the process.
  • Kick the Dog: Literally in this case. Scrotus sends the dog after Max, but when Max fends the dog off, Scrotus tosses the dog off of his truck for his failure.
  • Large and in Charge: Much like the Lord Humungus, Blaster and Rictus Erectus, Scabrous Scrotus is absolutely huge. This also applies to all Top Dogs, who are the head of their own encampments and are all gigantic.
  • Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: The various car bodies for the Magnum Opus are all based on real car bodies, changed just enough to avoid copyright infringement.
    • The Shovel Face is based on the 1968 Ford Mustang Fastback (The car from Bullitt)
    • The Wild Hunt is based on the 1973 Ford XB Falcon, which is the same kind of car as Max's V8 Interceptor.
    • The Furnace is based on the Perentti Coupe, an Australian kit-car based on the chassis of a Chevrolet Corvette.
    • The Death Rattle is based on the 1934 Chevrolet Master 5 Window Coupe.
    • The Ripper is based on the 60's era Pontiac GTO.
    • The Die Rolla is loosely based on the body of a 1960's Rolls-Royce.
  • Lighthouse Point: Jeet has built his stronghold by an old lighthouse although the stairs to the tower are blocked of by debris. There are several lighthouses occupied by enemies. At least one which is used as a lookout and sniper position.
  • Machine Worship: In a way with Chumbucket, who worships the "Angel Combustion" and believes his goal in life is to make the greatest car ever, with Max being the Saint sent to help him in his work.
  • Made of Iron: Scabrous Scrotus takes a chainsaw to the head at the hands of Max at the beginning of the game, and survives. Albeit with severe brain damage.
  • Magikarp Power: The Magnum Opus goes from a hunk of junk to the most powerful and feared vehicle in the game.
  • Magnum Opus: In-universe this is Max's car to Chumbucket, literally referred to as the 'Magnum Opus', starting off as literally nothing more than a chassis with tied-together wheels and a pitiful V6 engine to a monster of a vehicle capable of taking on anything within the game with brutal effectiveness.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Did Chumbucket really receive visions of Max's coming, or is Max just taking advantage of a poor lost soul? Sure, badass drivers aren't exactly rare in the wasteland so Chumbucket was likely to run across one eventually, but he did know Max's nickname for the Interceptor, the Black on Black, which makes it more ambiguous.
    • As well as Griffa, who seems to be able to "unlock Max's full potential" and is always found in a mystic like area that turns back to normal after talking to him. Doesn't help that it seems like only Max is able to see him.
  • Mind Screw:
    • The area where Griffa is found. The rocks covered in cave drawings and a strange aura surrounding the area. After Max wakes up all of that is gone.
    • Max's hallucination from blood-loss: Dog appears with a human body, Chumbucket wearing a top hat, and Dog acting as a preacher to Max and Hope's wedding. You will be wondering what the heck is going on.
    • After Hope and Glory are killed, Max's mental health is clearly failing.
  • Molotov Truck: One of the types of vehicles you can come across when driving about the wastes. They're nothing more than a buggy with zero armour and oil barrels worked into the rollcage. They have sets of fireworks all over that the driver lights simultaneously as a makeshift fuse, making a nicely hellish 'WHEEEEE' noise to let you know the car's about to go off.
  • Mythology Gag: The game has a couple of little nods to the movies.
  • Notice This: The colours yellow and (to a lesser degree) red are used as markers. Climbable ladders are yellow, ledges you can balance on are marked with a yellow streak, doors that can be kicked open have a yellow frame and a small red spot in the center, doors that can be opened via an explosion have a larger red splash in the middle, exposed fuel tanks are always red and so on. In general, yellow means "Go there", while red is "destroy this". Additionally, objects that can be picked up, like fuel canisters, shivs, melee weapons and scrap, are marked with flat yellow icons floating above them because depending on lighting and background, they might be less-than-conspicously coloured otherwise.
  • Palette Swap: Aside from different color schemes, dialog and biographies, all the Top Dogs are basically the same giant Lord Humungus lookalikes with some sort of makeshift-hammer/polearm who all fight the same.
    • All three of the enemy factions are this to each other. There is nothing different between a War Boy shieldbearer and a Buzzard shieldbearer beyond cosmetic differences, as an example.
  • Playable Epilogue: Following Max's final defeat of Scrotus and the deaths of Hope and Glory, as well as Chumbucket's death with the destruction of the Magnum Opus, the game appears to revert to having all of the characters still alive, as well as the Magnum Opus still intact. However, there is a strong implication that this is merely Max's grief-shattered mind hallucinating in a desperate attempt to assuage his guilt, as the entry under Through the Eyes of Madness attests.
  • Player Headquarters: While they're not actually controlled by Max, the various allied warlords' strongholds function as this, being areas where you get most of your major quests as well as giving you various benefits such as refilling your ammo/health, passive scrap generation and automatically collecting scrap from destroyed vehicles with the right upgrades.
  • Product Placement: West Coast Customs designed many of the car parts in this game. The DLC offers a car and hood ornaments made from Rockstar drink cans.
  • The Promised Land: Max is trying to make his way to the Plains of Silence when he is accosted by Scrotus's War Boys. Ultimately subverted. Max's character bio reveals that the Plains of Silence don't exist: Max is so mentally broken that he created a mythical place in order to escape from his demons.
    • Are you sure about that? Griffa tells Max at one point in the game that he is "already there," at the Plains of Silence. The Plains of Silence are actually the result of Max wiping Scrotus' influence from the game map. After all the convoys, fuel pumps, and transfer stations are destroyed, the wasteland does seem to be noticeably quieter, and emptier. At the end of the game, after the credits roll, Max stands on the edge of a cliff overlooking the wasteland, proclaiming that his mission is done, and that the Plains of Silence await. The game then presents you with free roam mode, inviting you to continue exploring...or "crossing the Plains of Silence," as it were.
  • Real Dreams Are Weirder: As Max is being operated on, he has a rather weird dream of Chum with a top hat and Dog as a Funny Animal talking about friendship. Then Max's deceased wife shows up and implores him to not give up helping people. She then turns into Hope and Dog performs a wedding ceremony between her and Max. As they embrace, the Interceptor speeds towards them but crashes on an invisible wall, tumbling over the couple. And then he wakes up.
  • Reality Ensues: Falling a pretty long way down is a bad idea. If he survives, Max will limp for a few seconds before being able to stand upright again.
  • RPG Elements: In addition to a fully customizable car, Max can unlock upgrades via a combination of completing story missions, side quests, and accumulating Wasteland Legend reputation. You can even gain upgrade tokens which you can "trade in" to a certain NPC in order to upgrade Max's abilities.
  • Saharan Shipwreck: The play area before you cross The Jaw is littered with these. Notables include Chumbuckets sanctum, Gutgash's stronghold and many enemy bases and encampments.
  • Scenery Gorn: In disturbing detail for the post apocalyptic setting. As a result of acute desertification what was formerly a coastal region has been reduced to an arid wasteland of dried undersea mountains, rockfaces and sand flats, jagged and blackened rockfaces and sulfur fumaroles surrounding a formerly underwater volcano, lifeless chalk-white landscapes littered with long-dead coral reefs, scores of rusting shipwrecks and aircraft, dried tree husks and decaying buildings swallowed up by desert dunes, and oil sludge lakes and massive mounds of rubbish surrounding Gastown.
  • Senseless Sacrifice: Max destroys the Magnum Opus and kills Chumbucket by using the vehicle to knock Scrotus' Landmover off a cliff. Not only does it not knock over (till it explodes), but Scrotus survives by escaping it before it falls by using Max's Interceptor stored in the Landmover.
  • Shotguns Are Just Better: Well, the shotgun is the only firearm you get in the game besides the car-mounted weapons, but it's amazingly powerful nonetheless. Ammo for it is rare but it's a guaranteed kill against almost any enemy and can often be used to blow cars up instantly if their gas tanks are exposed.
    • After Max's trademark double-barreled sawed-off shotgun gets taken by Scrotus in the opening cutscene, he acquires another one with a single barrel that is obviously made of bits of old pipe. Over the course of the game, you can upgrade it, to both boost the damage you do with it and increase the number of barrels it has; to two, then three and finally four barrels (at which point it sounds like a cannon going off when you fire it).
    • After Max beats Scrotus for good at the end of the game, he gets his sawed-off back. Though it still only has the two barrels, it's much faster to reload than the custom version (which the game justifies as being because its a purpose-built firearm, rather than something made out of junk).
  • Shout-Out: You can unlock blue facepaint for Max. Hmm...
    • Possibly a coincidence, but one mission involves stealing a subway car from the Buzzards, who are of Russian descent.
    • One that is so out of left field considering the general mood of the game that it becomes hilarious:
    random wanderer : *upon checking a rather recent wreckage* Surely this must be your doing?
    Chumbucket : Yes it is! And don't call him Shirley!
  • Small Role, Big Impact: Scab, a former war boy turned into a human blood bag after he had failed Scrotus. It's thanks to his blood that Max was saved and then later gives Max the information of where to find Scrotus.
  • Spikes of Villainy: A vehicular version. The Buzzards faction are obsessed with covering stuff in spikes, such as their cars and their barricades. But later you can also upgrade the Magnum Opus with these as well, which are used to skewer the enemies that jump off pursuing cars and onto yours.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: Lots. There's the gas tanks on enemy cars, landmines, the fuel tanks of flamethrowers, gasoline cans that you light on fire and throw to take out gates/enemies, Thundersticks (spears with contact-fused grenades on the business end), the Thunderpoon (Thundersticks shot out of your car's harpoon launcher like rockets), enemy vehicles in general,
  • Super Mode: Fury Mode, which accumulates as you land large attack combos. Once it's active, Max's attacks hit harder and he even uses different attacks, such as decking people in the face so hard they do a backflip and using wrestling moves like suplexes.
  • The Alleged Car: The Magnum Opus starts like this. Chummy's bug never evolves past this stage.
  • Through the Eyes of Madness: After Hope and Glory's deaths, everyone Max talks to across the wasteland constantly calls him out on their deaths or even turn into Hope or Glory and berate him, with the person talking's voice unchanged. All of this is clearly going on in in Max's head.
  • Too Awesome to Use: Like in the Road Warrior, ammo is hard to come by, forcing Max to use melee weapons. Even the largest bandoleer only lets you carry a pitiful amount of ammo (7 shotgun shells, 15 sniper rifle rounds, 15 thunderpoon heads, and 5 shivs).
  • Tragic Keepsake: Glory's snow globe. Refused by Max when he rejects Hope and Glory's offer to stay with them, then taken up again after Hope and Glory are killed. He keeps it with him during the showdown with Scrotus, but ultimately casts it aside as he drives off in the Interceptor, effectively ridding himself of the last testament to the whole sordid events of the game and returning to the state in which he started it.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: After finally getting his V8 engine, Max all but states he is going to abandon Chumbucket and steal the Magnum Opus from him. Then he gets mad at Chumbucket for "stealing it" in a panic.
  • Video Game Caring Potential: You will sometimes drive by a group of people wandering through the desert desperately needing water. You can go up to them and offer some of yours.
  • Violation of Common Sense: The sane thing to do when faced with a sandstorm of Biblical proportions is to get into shelter and wait for it to pass. However, venturing into the sandstorm and exploring can provide you with very lucrative amounts of scrap.
  • What a Piece of Junk: The Magnum Opus. No matter how much you pimp it, it still looks just a bit better than your typical wasteland mess. You can't turn it into the Gigahorse.
  • Wrestler in All of Us: Max can perform moves such as suplexes, power bombs, lariats and even armbars in melee combat when Fury Mode is activated.
  • Wouldn't Hurt a Child / Would Hurt a Child: Zig-zagged with the Buzzards. When they capture people, they kill off adults and take the children to use them as dig slaves. If the children survive and grow up, the Buzzards take them as one of their own although we do not know how they do that (given Buzzards are heavily implied to be Humanoid Abominations). They also don't seem to have much interest in raping or torturing their captives, which is a rarity in the Wasteland. In the end, it is unclear if a child captured by the Buzzards is better or worse off compared to the other children in the Wasteland.
  • X Meets Y: Mad Max meets Red Dead Redemption.

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