We’ve seen it happen many times before: when a major game gets a release date, smaller games that were slated to release that same day are mysterious delayed. The obvious reason is that publishers of the smaller games don’t want to directly compete with the bigger game for customers.
That’s exactly what I expected to happen to Mad Max when Konami announced that Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain would release on the same day: September 1, 2015. But for some reason Warner Bros. didn’t move the release date for Mad Max. Both games will launch on September 1, and most gamers won’t buy both, at least not at the same time.
What chance does an all-new game like Mad Max have against the time-tested titan of the Metal Gear Solid series? Let’s take a look.
The plot of Metal Gear Solid is a mess
Have you ever seen a nest of snakes? Groups of the lengthy reptiles coil and weave themselves together in a hideous knot of scaly flesh that’s impossible to sort out. That’s pretty much what the story of the Metal Gear Solid series seems like now. I’ve played all of the core games over the years, and I couldn’t give you more than the broadest outline of any of the games’ plots, let alone shape the the conspiracies, triple-crosses, and time jumps into a coherent narrative.
To play a Metal Gear Solid game means that you’ll get to experience some of the best stealth action gameplay ever devised, but that you’ll have no idea what’s going on. (Probably the most concise summary possible was posted a year ago on Reddit here, for those interested.)
Which is why starting fresh with a new game like Mad Max might be exactly the breath of fresh air many gamers are looking for on September 1.
Mad Max is as popular as ever
The Mad Max franchise may be new to the video game world, but it’s a well-known brand to the general public. Earlier this year, old Max had his biggest surge of popularity in decades, thanks to the release of the movie Mad Max: Fury Road. The movie was critically acclaimed and has brought in nearly $400 million in worldwide ticket sales to date.
In that light, making a game based on the franchise seems like a no-brainer. The question is whether the game is as good as it looks, and whether that popularity will turn into blockbuster video game sales.
The game looks really good
Based on previews, Mad Max looks like a solid game. It was made by Avalanche Studios, the developer responsible for the balls-to-the-wall action game series Just Cause. If they can bring that same manic energy to the vehicular combat and fist-fighting action in Mad Max, it’s going to be a crazy ride.
Like Just Cause, Mad Max offers up an open world for you to explore. You do that primarily in a car you can accessorize and improve and spec out as you play, in an effort to shape it into the ultimate battle machine. Just like in most open-world games, you spend your time taking on missions and wiping the floor with bad guys, which nets you fuel, scrap metal, guns, and bullets to keep chugging along. The desert wasteland setting looks great, and it’s filled with enough War Boys to keep you fighting for hours on end.
Still, Warner Bros. probably should have moved Mad Max
Despite all that, the smartest move for Warner Bros. would have been to move Mad Max out of the way of Metal Gear Solid V. Any other week in September would have offered less competition for gamers’ limited time and money. Why the publisher chose not to delay the game is anyone’s guess, but it will be fun to see how the sales stack up. And in all likelihood, any game you choose will be a winner.
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