Monday, July 20, 2015

The Road Untaken

So I finally got around to seeing Mad Max: Fury Road, and while I'm not sure I'd call it the best movie ever made, I was impressed with the style and setting.  I particularly enjoyed the "cargo cult" built up around the powers that be.  V8!  V8! the vegetable drink!  The nomenclature was especially clever too.  Compound terms like "black-thumb" and "war-rig" were neat, but Frank Miller really took it up a level when it came to names.  "Furiosa" literally translates to "She, who is angry," and I'd bet that "Immortan Joe" is an abbreviated version of the title "The Immortal One, Joseph."  One of the more impressive 4-wheelers in the film has the name "Giga-horse," as in one-billion horsepower.  Although I doubt that any internal combustion vehicle could actually have that much oomph under the hood, it was still an impressive looking machine.  Anyway...seeing the movie also got me thinking about the video game adaptation.

Currently under development by Avalanche Studios, makers of Just Cause, it's clear that the Mad Max game missed an opportunity to coincide its launch with the movie premier.  Then again, based on what I've heard the game isn't quite ready for prime time yet.  Perhaps Avalanche Studios is doing the right thing  by not rushing to market.  After all, move tie-in games have a pretty sullied reputation as is.  Regardless, I can't help thinking that the approach for this game is fundamentally flawed.  Sure, getting to play as Max Rockatansky in his iconic V8 interceptor might seem like the main appeal of the game, but I have to it, really?

What distinguishes Mad Max from other post-apocalyptic settings is largely a matter of style.  More specifically Frank Miller's use of subtext and skill as a world builder.  The character of Max acts primarily as a witness to historically inspired events which are in large part out of his control.  I guess what I'm saying is there are other road warriors, but places like Bullet Town and Gas Town are unique because of the allegories they represent.  Religion, weather it be the naive beliefs of the lost tribe or the dangerous fanaticism of the war-boys, is also an important part of what defines the setting in a unique way.  Max, on the other hand, is just a drifter, scavenger and everyman simply trying to survive.  Don't get me wrong, I like Max...he's easy to relate to, but why not let players create their own character (male or female), who can them carve out their own path in the wasteland?


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