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Mad Max Review

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Graphics:

Normally when working with an open-world game, there is a certain level of forgiveness it deserves for its graphics, because of how broad it all is. Things like noticeably enlarged textures or low-detail textures on objects because you do not normally get a close look at them. I am open to forgiving those because it is unreasonable, in my opinion, to hold such expansive games to the same standard of smaller, linear titles that can direct a player's eyes. With Mad Max, I cannot forgive it because I honestly could not find such examples of these reasonable compromises. Yes, I did find some graphical issues, but those one may find in any game and not just open-world games.

The textures everywhere looked to be well detailed and appropriately applied. There was no stretching, creating artifacts or exposing compression artifacts that I ever noticed. There was definitely detail placed into the textures so that the actual objects would not need them, like some fine details on the ground, but then there is also a fair amount of debris on the ground that are objects you can disturb or disturbing the ground generates debris that matches what is baked into the textures. Character textures, too, are at least detailed enough that I could not see any real issue with them. Going through the screenshots, I have noticed a place where the textures do not look that good. That is the edge of a water dish that you occasionally get an extreme close up of, and you do not stay on for long. Not a big deal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The objects you come across can noticeably vary a bit more, but it is not that bad. Many objects, like wheels, bodies, and boulders, have appropriate shapes to them, and are not obviously polyhedral. Boulders already do have that look going for them, but it is not obvious that they are in fact polyhedrons. Sometimes you will find objects, like pipes, that should be round, but are in fact not. These instances are most often just environmental details, and while you can spot them, they are not representative of the game's graphics. Going through my screenshots, the only example I have found of this is the tip of a Thunderstick, which are spears with explosive tips. These are relatively small objects and you are really not supposed to be looking at the tip that much, so like the water dish texture metioned above, this is not a big deal.

 

 

The lighting of Mad Max is uniformly very good. Really there is nothing critical I can really say about it, except for two things that are all likely bugs. One is that when I first got the flashlight, and Max was standing up with it on his chest, the actual light from it was not positioned on the object. This only occurred at this time.

A second issue was when the lighting for a dust cloud had broken contouring. Instead of the light diminishing along a smooth gradient, it reduced in visible steps and looked quite bad. I am not sure what caused this, but it happened very rarely. I know it happened once when I got the screenshot and I think it may have happened once or twice more, but that is all. I also noticed it, although it is more subtle, with shadows on the ground. When the shadows are outside of the range around you that things are rendered at their maximum detail, you can sometimes see contouring happening along the shadows' edges. With further investigation this looks like it may happen everywhere, but is hard to notice because of the distance the shadows have to be at. I only noticed the first time I did because the shadows I was looking at were practically all edges. Hopefully that can be fixed, but as it is not particularly common for the shadows to be just edges, it is not a major issue.

 

Besides that, the shadows are actually really nice and sharp, and everything casts them. This is exactly what you want of the shadows, so nothing more really needs to be said about them.

Being in the Mad Max universe, there really is no water to speak of for fluids, although the sand should be mentioned. It does react to being driven and walked on, with foot or tire prints appearing as is appropriate. The footprints even match up with the foot, with the left foot leaving an impact on your left side, and right foot on your right side, so it is not just a general effect applied based on your movement. However, the exact placement of the print relative to the foot can be a little off, but you will really only notice this if you are watching Max's feet. Never looked that closely at the tire prints, but I did notice them being made. Also vehicles can take noticeable damage, like wheels breaking so they wobble as they roll.

Fire and explosions are very common in Mad Max. Explosions tended to be unrealistically fiery, but then that is part of the fun of video games. While I do appreciate realistic explosions in games, I still enjoy the 'red-barrel explosions' that are far more common. Basically no matter what was exploding, there would be a fireball, which fits with fuel tanks exploding, but not everything. Crashing into other cars and grinding against them will cause many sparks to be thrown off, and looked appropriate and satisfying.

Fire looks to be using the method of sticking an animation over an object. This causes them to look unnatural as there is no real impact on the flames' behavior by the object being burned. It also hurts the depth of the fire, as the animations clearly seem to lack any. The smoke billowing off is similarly animated, but a bit less noticeable because of how it is meant to obscure whatever is behind it.

 

Time to talk about performance, so here are my specs:

  • Processor: AMD A10-5800K @ 4.40 GHz (44.0x100)
  • Cooling: Corsair H110
  • Motherboard: ASUS F2A85-M PRO
  • GPU: NVIDIA GTX 980 4 GB
  • PhysX: EVGA GTX 770 2 GB
  • Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws 4x8 GB (32 GB total) at 1866 MHz 10-10-10-27
  • PSU: OCZ Fata1ty 750 W
  • OS: Windows 7- Professional 64-bit

With the exception of Motion Blur, I ran with every setting turned on and up to its highest value. Curiously only some options labelled the highest as Max. I would have expected all-or-nothing. Initially this also included V-Sync, but I eventually turned this off. I had been noticing some microstutter that was annoying me, so I turned off V-Sync and that fixed it. Noticing some other performance issues I changed something about my computer's configuration, and that solved that problem, but I never went back to see if I could re-enable V-Sync as well. At some point it appears the setting re-enabled on its own, and I do not know when. This configuration change was just disabling an unnecessary background process that was taking up resources. This allowed the game to stay more consistently at the 60 FPS it was almost always running at. Really, even with all that was going on in frame, it stayed at 60 FPS almost all of the time, which is pretty impressive for any newly released game with this level of graphics quality. Mad Max has definitely been very well optimized for PC, too, based on my experience.

 

Part of the reason I never turned V-Sync back on was that I never noticed any screen tearing. Perhaps this is because of when it re-enabled itself, but even so I did not notice any during the session when I turned off the option. Watching some of the videos I recorded, I can see some tearing in them and some hitching to the framerate that also did not occur. The tearing in the videos could be the result of playing with V-Sync off (I do not know which would have had the setting off and which on) and using a constant framerate of 60. The hitching I have no explanation for. I can say that one video I recorded I had to delete because it was so horrible, and not at all like the gameplay was. Fortunately I was able to capture a very similar event later on without as serious of issues in the video. That video does seem to show an interesting issue on its own.

Something that happens occasionally is a giant storm moves in and can really terrorize you. Depending on the region you are in, the storm will hurl damaging debris at you, cause damaging lightning strikes all around you, or both. In the video I captured of a lightning storm, I accidentally drove out of the region it was in, but then drove back in. This was to get more video and to get the crates of scrap that storms can bring in. The issue I discovered was that the loud blowing noise of the storm ceased and the effect of dust obscuring my view also vanished, apparently not re-engaging after leaving the storm.

 

One final issue I noticed is that this is one game that, at least in some places, could definitely use some kind of temporal anti-aliasing, or a different AA method. Looking at the configuration files it appears FXAA is being used, and in-game the only AA option is to turn it on or off. This method is incompatible with temporal anti-aliasing and perhaps its limitations from being a post-processing method are allowing that shimmer as well. Fortunately it is not everywhere.

All-in-all, the graphics of Mad Max are surprisingly good, with the surprise coming from it being an open-world game. If it were a more linear title, this is, more or less, what I would expect. That is a fairly impressive feat to achieve. Combined with fairly steady 60 FPS gameplay and you have something pretty amazing here, and something I hope the developers are proud of.




  1. Mad Max Review - Introduction
  2. Mad Max Review - Graphics
  3. Mad Max Review - Story
  4. Mad Max Review - Gameplay
  5. Mad Max Review - Additrional Gameplay Media
  6. Mad Max Review - Conclusion
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