Welcome to September. A month that marks the beginning of the video game rush every year with huge triple-A releases. Gone is the summer drought, where players accept whatever they get their hands on. It’s time for the big guns to be pulled out. The thing is, with so many huge guns trying to make some noise, some end up being drowned out, even if they are rather impressive experiences.
Never has that been clearer than this past Tuesday when Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain and Mad Max were released. Here are two solid experiences that each offer something fun and completely worthwhile to players. One happened to be a sequel in a critically acclaimed series that was helmed by one of video gaming’s most beloved minds. The other is a brand new game based on a beloved film franchise that has yet to be properly tested in the gaming medium. When they came head to head, experience seized the day.
Now let’s get one thing clear, Mad Max is not a bad game, not even close to being one. It’s an open world post-apocalyptic experience that lets players feel the harsh realities of the decay of civilization. Everything, including the world, is out to kill you. There is tons of customization, plenty of side activities, and some of the best vehicular combat to date. Even our review praised Mad Max‘s ability to find a solid ground while being a game based on movie characters.
However, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain was easily one of the most anticipated games of the year. Not only is it the first fully open world Metal Gear Solid, but it is Kojima’s final entry to the series, as well as his conclusion to the legend he’s been building over the past couple of decades. It’s the swan song to trump all other swan songs, and if the gaming community is anything to go by, it is one of the closest examples of perfection that has been released in recent years.
This creates a conundrum. One one hand you have something new, and new is something that the gaming community at large is always asking for. There is a vocal section of gamers that are tired of sequels, be they annual or not. On the other hand, you have the last of a legacy. A game that transformed the medium with its insanity and straight-up refusal to adhere to what is ‘normal’.
This unfortunately translated to Mad Max being unable to stand much of a chance against Metal Gear Solid V: TPP. In a season when everything is about to start releasing, a game like Mad Max will attract two types of people. The first type are diehard fans of Mad Max‘s lore and characters (and who don’t mind that certain awesome characters from the latest film aren’t present). The second are those who just aren’t a fan of Metal Gear Solid.
Sure, some of you may be reading this and thinking “why not just get both?”, and that is a strong argument. But, when you sit down to play both games, you’ll soon realize that neither is a short experience, especially if you consider yourself a completionist. Playing both games somewhat simultaneously is next to impossible (trust me, I’ve tried). Both experiences command so much of your attention that you will need to choose a focus.
With Mad Max being the new kid on the block, it didn’t exactly make its case as to why it should be your choice. Metal Gear Solid V: TPP provided tons of insight, emotional trailers, a heck of a lot of controversy, and more to keep it in the center of attention. Although it was already being looked forward to, it made sure to give it that push all the way through to the finish line. That is something that Mad Max sorely needed but never properly received.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that Mad Max is dead in the water. It may be overshadowed now, but games have climbed out of a ditch before. A couple of years ago Sleeping Dogs was overshadowed for the much more advertised, and severely over-hyped, Darksiders 2. You couldn’t go anywhere without seeing an ad for the latter, but after some time Sleeping Dogs earned the respect for being the gem that it is, after a long wait and a re-release.
Mad Max has placed itself in a tight position, one that won’t relent anytime soon. It can’t be faulted for wanting to help kick off the season that everyone has been waiting for, but going against Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain (a.k.a. one of the biggest games in recent years) was borderline suicide for a truly enjoyable game.
It really is a shame, but one that I hope will pass in due time. Mad Max is a game that deserves a chance. It’s a dark take on open worlds, and the underlying violence in literally every aspect are superbly done. It is resting under the shadow of a behemoth at the moment, but all things eventually come to the light.
What is your take on Mad Max‘s releasing at the same time as Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain? Do you think it was a bad move? Do you think it didn’t make a difference? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.