“Apocalypse Now: Mad Max Just Plain Mad?”
©2008 David Hilton
“`“We don’t need another hero!” screams Tina Turner in her song for Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome. Maybe we also don’t need another Mad Max game? After all the NES had one based on the second Mad Max film, The Road Warrior. And post-apocalyptic nuclear wastelands are so 1945-1980s aren’t they?
“`When I first learned that Mad Max filmmaker George Miller was collaborating with God of War 2’s Cory Barlog to make a Mad Max video game I arched my eyebrow in amazement. Could the Mad Max post-apocalyptic universe, with pitched battles over limited oil resources between thrifty but desperate survivors of a nuclear war and gangs of opportunistic punks, be a great game?
Fall Out 3
I am a child of the Cold War, when everyone grew up with the doomsday scenario of nuclear war between the West and the Soviet Union. Post-apocalyptic media was common during my childhood; along with Max there were movies like Terminator and The Day After. But then the Soviet Union dissolved and other threats came along to make us afraid. So would this game appeal to those who didn’t grow up under the cloud of nuclear proliferation?
Doomsday scenarios are always popular but recently nuclear destruction seems somewhat out of fashion: terrorism, bird flu and other pandemics, environmental disaster, and even asteroids have plagued our hopes for the future of humankind. Still, games like Resident Evil which used bio-weapons and pandemics instead of nuclear war and were only localized outbreaks do create a similar end of the world scenario where only a few remain to struggle to survive.
The recent game Bioshock used an almost post-apocalyptic claustrophobic utopia-gone-wrong caused by competition for scarce resources and the dark side of human nature. But it too was isolated to an underwater city. You knew the world was still alive out there; your goal was to get out and find safety.
Gears of War was definitely post-apocalyptic, but the world, though like our own, was not earth, and humans didn’t destroy it. Half Life 2 also had humanity struggling post-disaster; but this was an occupation by aliens.
Still, recent zombie films Resident Evil: Extinction, where the world has been over-run by the undead and looks very Mad Max-like, and 28 Weeks Later (spoiler) which sees the rage virus spread beyond Britain, make the destruction of humankind their biggest scare. In games like Resistance: Fall of Man 2 the destruction unleashed on Britain will reach the U.S. and S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow Of Chernobyl had nuclear accident consequences coupled with experimentation. The threat to the world and everything we hold dear (or not in some cases) still captivates.
My initial skeptical reaction to the Mad Max game announcement may be wrong. A post-nuclear world game, if as George Miller promises, focuses on story as well as gameplay, can very much succeed. Maybe nuclear destruction can be a modern game’s backdrop instead of just a ubiquitous ‘threat’, especially as nuclear devastation was so effectively illustrated in one short passage of Call of Duty 4.
As far back as 1997, the game Fallout explored a world destroyed by nuclear war and soon Fallout 3 will bring our destroyed world to life (or actually is that death?) again this year. Though the game’s nuclear destruction takes place in 2077, the world environment is more as it was during the paranoid Cold War years of the 1950s. I very much look forward to exploring what is left of earth when it is released and I believe a great many others will too.
“`After all, a game centred around a nuclear-destroyed world with a lone hero protagonist who is alone and alienated, who is trying to re-connect with others who survived, may strike a cord with members of today’s fearful society that are said to be increasingly lacking in a sense of community and suffering a sense of isolation from others.
WTF? Okay, how about: Mad Max the game should simply strike a cord with any gamer who likes dune buggy car action, shooting, and a chance for great heroics bashing greedy wacko gang members’ skulls in. Here’s hoping Miller and Barlog can make a great post-apocalyptic game. If so, then to use another line from a song: “It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine!”
©2008 David Hilton
• Additional Information: