Oh, how the tale of Mad Max the video game has changed from its first announcement. In the beginning, the move made sense as merely the latest case of Warner Bros. seeking to release a tie-in game for an upcoming film: George Miller's Mad Max: Fury Road. Onlookers struggled to make sense of the game, however, since it handled the challenge of handing the title role from Mel Gibson to Tom Hardy by emulating neither, and telling a story that seemed almost entirely detached from the sequel/reboot.
Delays followed, allowing the developers at Avalanche Studios time to make their own intentions clear. In short: deliver an open world sandbox of destruction based on the world established in the Mad Max films, with the freedom to ignore, or embrace those elements of Fury Road that they see fit. And going by the latest trailer, it may prove to be the wisest choice.
For starters, it's hard to argue that the game has benefitted from the delays, considering just how much more recognition the Mad Max name enjoys. Not only has the film managed to attract an entirely new audience to the property (though less than Warner Bros. may have hoped), but the critical acclaim has made the soft reboot a rarity in its genre.
Will that goodwill and polish extend to the video game? Not if the game is unable to succeed on its own strengths. Avalanche has crafted a story-driven sandbox title that's had our curiosity piqued for months, but the references to War Boys, Gas Town and Max's history of departed loved ones should grab the attention of movie fans as well. Keeping it will be the true challenge.
For their part, Avalanche has made efforts to win the trust of Mad Max fans, a group they claim to be a part of themselves. When the first demo of the game showed Max to possess an American accent, the response was predictable; the country in which the game is set is - like the films - left somewhat ambiguous, but viewers have always understood it to take place in Australia. Fan outcry was met with appeasement, as Aussie voice actor Bren Foster was brought in to voice the hero soon after.
The team has also confirmed that the game will be set prior to the events of Fury Road, meaning the presence of War Boys or a booming Gas Town won't contradict the movie's plot. How the game's story will tie into the film, if it will, is a total mystery. Thankfully, since that question is a minor one in the grand scheme of things, the coverage of the game has steered clear of answering it. The game may have begun its life looking to build off the story of George Miller's reboot, but now seems to be actively distancing itself from it, in anything more than themes and a shared mythology.
That choice will certainly build optimism among gamers, but do you think it's a wise move? Do you hope to see larger elements of Fury Road included, or at least referenced in the Mad Max video game? Be sure to share your thoughts in the comments.
Mad Max releases for PC, PS4 and Xbox One on September 1, 2015.