Grizzly Gaming

Friday, November 20, 2015

Mad Max review: Plenty of opportunity in this wasteland

Hey guys, I know I’ve been away a while and I’m real sorry about that. I’ve been putting a lot of work into my other blog,, and neglecting my video game obsession for a while now – but I mean to change that. With the holiday season coming up, the video game industry is going to be more active than ever so this will be the first in many upcoming updates.

Here’s hoping, anyway.

And what better way to kick things off than a game that came out of nowhere to become one of my most favorite recently played games. No, it’s not Metal Gear Solid V – it’s Mad Max.

Ever since I saw “The Road Warrior,” I’ve been a big fan of the Mad Max character. Before “Mad Max: Fury Road,” it was hard to call myself a fan of the series, because even though “The Road Warrior” is a personal favorite, the original “Mad Max” and “Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome” did little for me. But now “Fury Road” is right up there with “Road Warrior” in my book – which was a big part of the appeal of “Mad Max” on PlayStation 4.

While earlier movies present Max in a vast, endless wasteland populated mostly by psychopaths, “Fury Road” actually takes this concept a few steps further and details various wasteland factions, societies and locations – many of which appear in “Mad Max” the game. The War Boys, Gastown, the Buzzards are all present in “Mad Max” and other areas of the lore are expanded upon as well, such as where the Buzzards’ home base is, the other various factions inhabiting the wasteland and get a look into how these societies and cultures operate.

But this isn’t a Telltale Game – there is much more to Mad Max than exploring the lore of the series. As is the case in many of Max’s stories, the game opens with Max losing his car and, with no other options, partners with a strange wasteland hermit named Chumbucket. Max had intended to use his previous car to cross the Plains of Silence and escape the wasteland, but as so often happens, Max runs afoul of the biggest psychopath in the land – Scabrous Scrotus. Max helps Chum construct a new vehicle – one of Chum’s own design called the Magnum Opus, which will help Max defeat the hordes of Scrotus and maybe even cross the impassible Plains of Silence.

Chum is a constant companion on Max’s journey. Being a blackfinger, Chum is able to easily fix any damage the Magnum Opus sustains, as well as operating the car’s weaponry. The wasteland is a dangerous place but your car can be upgraded to support a grappling hook, side-mounted flamethrowers, a rudimentary rocket launcher called the Thunderpoon and more. As you explore, you collect scrap which is used as in-game currency to both upgrade the Magnum Opus as well as Max’s own stats and abilities.

Vehicular combat in Mad Max is frantic, destructive and thrilling

Your car can also be upgraded in a number of other ways. Extra armor can be added to increase durability. Spikes can be fitted to the hood to deal with aggressive War Boys. Bigger engines, raised suspension, various tire types are all available as well. Not to mention being able to customize the appearance with paint jobs and body types. And it’s a good thing that Chum is such an adept mechanic because the wasteland is an extremely hostile place and you’ll need all your driving skills to survive.

As soon as you enter the wasteland, you’ll notice the wide open spaces and ruins of a fallen civilization. For being a post-apocalyptic wasteland, the setting of Mad Max is quite beautiful and each region offers its own distinct appearance and characteristics. For instance, the areas you inhabit early in the game were formerly a seabed, meaning your car will handle differently here than it will in the dry, arid areas near Gastown – where a few asphalt roads can still be found.

Though the wasteland may be spacious – it is not uninhabited. The legions of Scrotus terrorize the meager few who try to survive in the wasteland and refuse to submit to their vicious rule and you can’t go far without running into a War Party. Early in the game, you’ll generally only run into one or two small cars with light armor. But later on, parties of 3-4 heavily armored vehicles roam the land and the battles with these War Parties is only rivaled by the destruction caused during Convoy battles.

Convoys rumble across the arid wasteland in massive parties and confronting a convoy is one of the most exciting elements of Mad Max. Ripping across the scorched earth and doing battle with numerous other vehicles as high-speeds, all with only small occasional graphical hiccups, is exhilarating. Just as tackling convoys are a big challenge, clearing out Scrotus camps is just as difficult. These large outposts often have various objectives to complete as well as collectible loot and these outpost battles change from a series of fist fights into large puzzles that need to be solved.

Since resources in the wasteland are scarce, much of the combat in Mad Max revolves around hand-to-hand combat. Max’s abilities can be augmented over time, along with his attire which can increase your melee effectiveness, and eventually Max can handle huge groups of War Boys on his own. The fighting is reminiscent of the “Batman: Arkham Asylum” series, with well-timed attacks, dodges and parries being the keys to success.

But the Mad Max movie franchise isn’t just about chaos and carnage – it’s also very focused on Max as a character and how the events around him shape him and effect his humanity. In the wasteland, there is a peculiar nomad named Griffa. When Max earns Griffa tokens, he can trade them in to upgrade abilities like more efficient gasoline usage, finding more water in wells, increasing Max’s life meter and more. But Griff also offers more than just abilities – he offers a peek into Max’s soul.

Despite four movies and this game, we still don’t know much about Max Rockatansky as a person. But through interactions with Griffa, we begin to see the person just underneath the rugged exterior which Max tries so desperately to hide from the world.

Hand-to-hand combat is how battles outside your car are handled

Loss is a commonality shared by all wasteland inhabitants, and the losses Max has suffered have changed him and shaped his outlook on the world. Max is essentially a good person, but he has seen too many terrible things happen to people who have trusted him. Now, Max runs from his sense of honor and duty and acts only for himself and his conscience makes him feel guilty about not doing more to help those in need. Anyone who gets too close to Max seems to die and he sees this as not being able to protect anyone but himself, so he pushes everyone away, rather than see more tragedy befall those around him.

And if you’re able to enjoy this deeper characterization, you may enjoy the story in Mad Max. But if you need to be told everything point-blank and have every twist and turn in the story played out right in front of your eyes – you may not enjoy the story Mad Max presents. The actual story told in Mad Max from beginning to end is very bare bones – Max has a nice car and wants to use it on an epic trek. Max runs afoul of a psychopath. Max’s car gets stolen. Max need to rebuild. Max befriends a few people to achieve his goals. Yada, yada, yada, game ends. This isn’t to say the story is “bad” necessarily – but if close reading of stories and characters isn’t your thing, you may not enjoy the story Mad Max presents.

And along those lines - as much as I enjoyed Mad Max, it’s not without its flaws.

Foremost, the missions aren’t organized very well and the game pretty much doesn’t track them for you – even if you’re actively engaged in them. You’d think that if you’re given a mission which tells you to go to a specific place, it would show you the route or create a very obvious waypoint. But not in Mad Max. At best, it’ll put a tiny blue circle at your destination on the map and it’s up to you to figure out where it is.

And I feel like Mad Max does its best to hide that information too. When you pause the game, there are menus for upgrades, your map, a collectible list – but no tab which is clearly marked for missions/objectives. You know where they are? Hidden away in the “Pause Menu” – that’s right, you have to select the tab marked “Pause Menu” when you pause the game – is where you find your settings and saving/loading options. But you know what else is in there? The mission log! What?! And better yet – even this doesn’t give you any help. It just recounts whatever slim info you were initially given about your quest.

Also, the camera is sometimes more of a hindrance than anything else. It swings around Max too loosely and often you’ll be surprised by enemies closing in on you, which you didn’t see, because the camera was out of position.

Another annoyance was how clumsy Max’s interactions with the world can be. For instance, the X button is used to perform a variety of tasks. You use this button to pick up limited-use melee weapons or other items like gas cans and scrap and the game makes you hold the button for a few seconds to pick up anything. This doesn’t seem like much, but makes picking up weapons on the fly, in the midst of a heated battle (where you can be outnumbered 8-1) nearly impossible. Plus holding X to pick up every item you encounter gets old quick.

And in the same vein as the complaint above, the same buttons are used for too many actions overall. For instance – gas cans. You can pick them up to refill your car and store them for later use. But you can also light them on fire and throw them as a make-shift explosive. And if you’re following along you can probably guess – the same button is used to both refill your car AND light gas cans on fire. So if you’re not in the EXACT right spot to refill your tank, you could end up setting a full gas can on fire instead of using and saving it (this is another annoyance – Mad Max is a stickler for being faced the exact right direction to interact with objects).

And these are on top of other minor gripes like not being able to tell how much gas is in a can (you see a meter while refilling your car, but if your car is full, there’s no way to tell); not being able to use your sniper rifle out of the car (Chum can drive while you shoot, but it’s slow); and relying too often on the same enemy character models (for instance, some outposts are led by Top Dogs, but each Top Dog is the same model and uses the same attacks – they’re just different colors).

But even for its flaws, I still found Mad Max on PlayStation 4 to be extremely enjoyable and one of the most fun and unique open-world games I’ve played in a long time. If you’re a fan of Grand Theft Auto but sick of the setting, or want to play an open-world game but can’t get into Metal Gear Solid V or Fallout 4, Mad Max may be just the game for you. Mad Max is like building Legos – it’s nothing really revolutionary and you pretty much know what you’re gonna get, but the experience is still very fun and rewarding from beginning to end. And if you’re a fan of the Mad Max movie franchise, you owe it to yourself to check this game out, as its one of the most faithful movie-to-game adaptations I’ve ever played.

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Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Exclusive Ring Rust Radio interview with WWF legend and former governor of Minnesota Jesse "The Body" Ventura

The hosts of Ring Rust Radio – Donald Wood, Mike Chiari and Brandon Galvin – recently had the chance to interview WWF legend and former governor of Minnesota Jesse “The Body” Ventura. With Ventura’s book “American Conspiracies” recently being re-released, Ring Rust Radio talks to the former governor about his potential bid for the presidency, his ORA TV show “Off the Grid” and his short stint in WCW and more. You can listen to the interview on the YouTube player below or continue past to read the entire interview here.

Ring Rust Radio: The first edition of your book “American Conspiracies” was a New York Times bestseller, and you have released the second edition that is already making waves. Why was now the right time to release the new “American Conspiracies” and what are you hoping to accomplish with this book that you didn’t with the first?

Jesse Ventura: First of all, I didn’t choose to re-release it. My publisher Sky Horse publishing wanted to do an updated version, so I said fine and had no problem with that. We released a new version with four new conspiracies because generally the way the government operates, you can probably get a new conspiracy out of them every year. They will do something they don’t want you to know about, they will cover it up with the cloak of national security, and then you have to uncover it to find out the things they are doing now.

Ring Rust Radio: You’re very well known for your time as Minnesota governor and you’ve expressed interest in potentially running for president in 2016 as a Libertarian candidate. Why might you consider throwing your hat into the ring, and why do you think you would have success if you did?

Jesse Ventura: Well, if you look at the situation right now, there is the start of a revolution happening here. You can see it in the Republican Party right now. Their three leaders have never held the office at the any time. You’re watching these two parties disintegrate in their own way before your eyes, which is good. Come next spring time, the pipers will be out and it will be down to two people when the Libertarians name their candidate. They go to the Libertarian convention, name their candidate, then from June to November you will be on the ballot in 47 to 48 states. Then the key would be to get into the debates. You have to be in the debates to have a chance to win. You need to wait in my case, if I am going to do it. I wait until they get down to one or two people so you save money and don’t spin your wheels and waste your time.

Ring Rust Radio: Donald Trump is undoubtedly the most polarizing figure in the presidential race currently. What are your overall impressions of him and his presidential qualifications?

Jesse Ventura: Donald Trump was a supporter of me way back in the days of the reform party in the 90s. I knew Donald for twenty or twenty five years now since back to WrestleMania four or five and all that. He has always threatened to run but has never gone through with it, but now he has gone through with it and he is in for the long haul. The problem is, if he doesn’t get the Republican nomination, what happens to all the people that were going to vote for him? Would they just go back to the normal Republican? Or would they look for something else? The same thing could be said for Bernie Sanders.  He is an Independent infiltrating the Democrats. He won’t get the nomination either and what will happen to all his voters? Where will they go? Will they simply go back to the Democratic Party? I don’t think so. When you look at the whole nation, the last election, 64 percent of the people chose not to vote, that is almost two-thirds of the nation didn’t vote. Well those are potential customers for me if I run because that’s how I won in Minnesota. I was getting people who didn’t normally vote to get out and vote.

Ring Rust Radio: In addition to your books, you’re also hosting ORA TV’s “Off The Grid.” Tell the fans who have never seen the show what to expect when tuning in, and where and when they can find the program.

Jesse Ventura: It’s on ORA TV which is on the internet Monday through Friday and I am off the grid when I do it. What you are going to get is Jesse Ventura in a ten to eleven minute interview on any subject. It really turns me loose and being on the internet there aren’t any FCC regulations, I’m in total control of my show, and it’s the most fun I have ever had doing a show.

Ring Rust Radio: Your history with Hulk Hogan is very well documented, and he’s been in the news a lot lately because of his falling out with WWE due to a racial slur scandal. Having known Hogan dating back many years, what was your reaction when you heard about the scandal?

Jesse Ventura: Maybe the people are seeing the real Hulk Hogan. Let’s all remember we play parts in wrestling and may be nothing like we are in real life. Maybe we are seeing what Hulk Hogan is in real life. I am only speculating on that so bear that in mind. We would always laugh when he would tell the little kids to say their prayers and eat their vitamins, and we would always laugh and say, ‘oral or injectables?’ What kind of vitamins are we talking here? I remember when Hogan would always deny that he used steroids and I would always laugh.

Ring Rust Radio: Your stint as an announcer with WCW from 1992 through 1994 was fairly short-lived and there’s been a lot of speculation over the years why you and WCW parted ways. What’s the real story regarding that situation?

Jesse Ventura: The real story was, when they brought me in they paid me big money because I made the jump from the WWF. A lot of people couldn’t handle the money they were paying me to just be an announcer, Bill Watts included, who was the head booker. I think Jim Ross was very jealous because he wouldn’t work with me. I would toss him lines and he wouldn’t respond to them, and he even admitted that he didn’t do the best job he could when he worked with me in WCW. I think Jim was jealous of the money I was getting which wasn’t my fault. He shouldn’t have blamed me for it. There never was the chemistry there with Jim Ross that I had with Vince or Gorilla. The reason it ended up the way it did, was they brought Hogan in and then Hogan had me immediately dismissed. I remember, I had six months to go on my contract and I never had to work. They just paid me and I sat at home. Hogan came in and he did not want me on the mic there. He had the power to do it so Eric Bischoff—that little—I have a few names for him, the backstabber Eric Bischoff, and I never worked my last six months as soon as Hulk Hogan was brought in.

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Thursday, June 25, 2015

E3 2015 news – My favorite moments from the gaming supershow

Fallout 4

-Incredible looking visuals which really make the world come alive, despite it being a post-apocalyptic wasteland
-Crafting (weapons, armor and structures) from the myriad items that are found in the landscape which were at one time seemingly useless except for ammo in the junk cannon. You’ll be able to build settlements and people will occupy buildings (including merchants) as well as generators to power turrets, computers, lights and other things. As well as crafting tons of weaponry. Something like 50 base weapons with hundreds of attachments to create unique weapons.
-VATS making a comeback but now the action isn’t paused indefinitely so you’ll want to act quick
-Sidekick dog buddy
-Begins before the bombs drop and lets you choose what your parents look like and creates a composite for your character
-Set in and around Boston
-Releases on November 10, 2015

Dishonored 2

-Female protagonist this time around (Emily Kaldwin, the daughter of the empress from the first game). You can also play as Corvo as well, and apparently there’s a point close to the beginning of the game where you choose who you will play as the rest of the game. You’ll play through the same missions as each but from different situations and viewpoints. They will have different powers too and Corvo’s powers will be upgraded and modified. Doesn’t look like there will be co-op despite two different playable characters.
-Set on Serkonos, one of the other islands near Gristol, where the first game was set in the capitol city of Dunwall. In the Empire of the Isles which contains Gristol, Tyvia, Morley and Serkonos.
-Much more colorful than the original game but the setting still has that feeling of a society on the brink of collapse
-Some really interesting/creepy looking clockwork enemies
-Seems like this city is dealing with another plague
-Sounds like you can also play through this one without killing anyone
-Release slated for Spring 2016

Doom 4

-A move back to the style of the original games – no reloading guns, favorite weaponry making a comeback, fast and frantic gameplay, no regenerating health but killed enemies drop health and armor, double jumps and other old school shooter mechanics.
-Takes place in both military base and hellish settings
-Lots of cool execution and finishing moves to use in close quarters. The flip side is that enemies can pull off similar maneuvers so prepare to see your space marine get torn to pieces after doing the same to so many of the denizens of hell.
-Several well-known enemy demons and monsters making a return in Doom 4
-Release slated for Q1/Q2 2016

Mass Effect: Andromeda

-Takes place in the Andromeda galaxy, not our galaxy. Not sure if humans will be the main race or what but it seems likely since the teaser trailer shows a humanoid figure in N7 armor
-Also shows a vehicle, which could be the Mako, which seems to suggest vehicular transport will be a viable option for the first time since the original
-Release slated for holiday 2016

Star Wars Battlefront

-Made by EA DICE to it’s safe to say it’ll be reminiscent of the Battlefield series
-You’ll be able to play as heroes, Luke and Vader are shown in the gameplay trailer but I’m sure more will be available
-Not sure if or what kinds of vehicles you can pilot. I read that larger things like AT-ATs will be on rails but maybe you’ll be able to pilot TIE Fighters, X-Wings or AT-STs.
-Multiplayer and co-op will be available but not sure the number possible

Just Cause 3

-All the insanity you’d expect from a Just Cause game now with lots of destructible environments.
-Reminds me of the “Mercenaries” games from PS2, which is a very good thing.
-Playing as Rico Rodriguez, you work to take down a military dictator on the Mediterranean island of Medici.
-The grappling hook makes a comeback with even more uses and now you can use multiple grapple tethers at once.
-The parachute is much more stable now and you can launch strikes from above with both one-handed and two-handed weapons while gliding on your parachute.
-There’s also a brand-new wingsuit that lets you effortless sail through the skies at higher speeds
-Over 80 vehicles to pilot including fighter jets, sports cars and even monster trucks
-Doesn’t seem to be any co-op or multiplayer unfortunately but there are many online challenges with leaderboards
-Release date – Sept. 1

For Honor

-An intriguing third-person action game which will have single and multiplayer campaigns. But the biggest thing – and really only thing – you need to know about For Honor is it will feature Knights vs Samurai vs Viking battles. Let that sink in.
-Historically grounded, meaning no magic or wizardry – just close combat between three of the most highly-lauded warrior groups of the past.
-Gameplay videos reminded me of Dynasty Warriors in that human players take on the role of hero characters in massive battles with numerous computer controlled warriors all around.

Horizon Zero Dawn

-A unique third person action game set in the distant future.
-You play as a member of a tribe of, I guess, techno-cavemen who live in the ruins of our world and hunt – and are hunted by – giant, robotic animals.
-Hints at some sort of societal collapse which may have been caused by humans or machines which led to the strange future these people inhabit
-Not much revealed about the actual story but it’s an intriguing concept and the gameplay looks pretty interesting

Final Fantasy VII remake

-FINAL. FANTASY. VII. HD. REMAKE. That’s really all I need to say.
-Pretty sure nothing about the story will be changed, just that every aspect of the game and gameplay will be getting an HD upgrade. And considering that FF7 was perhaps my favorite RPG of all time, I wouldn’t want anything about the core game to be changed.

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Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Fallout 4 revealed

Yesterday, Fallout’s homepage on the Bethesda Softworks website changed into a countdown which ended this morning and finally, after what felt like decades of waiting, the developer announced this morning that Fallout 4 is finally happening.

No info outside of the trailer has been released, such as platforms or a release date, but I think it’s safe to assume it’ll be on both Xbox One and PlayStation 4 and most likely PC as well. I saw rumors that it’s going to be cross generation (on PS3 and Xbox 360) but I don’t think they are true.

From the trailer alone, it seems like a portion of Fallout 4 may be taking place before the bombs fell, or at least, as they are falling. If I had to guess, it may be a portion of the game’s opening sequence, taking on the role of an older family member of the eventual main character (who goes on to leave the Vault) during the time when the war begins and the Vaults become active.

And while it’s not known for sure, it also seems likely that Fallout 4 will be taking place in and around the Boston area, which was inferred during the events of Fallout 3 when you meet a character from a place known as The Institute in Rivet City, which is described as being north of the Capital Wasteland and many believe is M.I.T., the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The visual style of the trailer is really, really slick, keeping the distinct art style from Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas but upgrading every facet to be more colorful, detailed and striking. It also seems like there will be much more urban environments in Fallout 4 than previous games. There are a few shots of a larger cityscape in the trailer which I can only assume is part of Boston or at least The Institute. And like previous games, The Enclave and Brotherhood of Steel seem like they will be playing a large role in the game. Outside of the fact that it seems you can recruit a sidekick (specifically a dog as featured in the trailer), as far as story details go, your guess is as good as mine.

My only reservation about Fallout 4 from this initial trailer is that the overall environment looks a little too similar to Fallout 3. However, I’m hoping that perception changes as time goes on and more information becomes known.

With E3 coming up on June 16-18, I’m hoping more info will be made known about Fallout 4. And since I have to believe Bethesda has been working on it since New Vegas came out about five years ago, here’s hoping that they have a lot to show with all the eyes that are going to be on E3 and that the release date is sooner rather than later.

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An avid gamer and long-time pro wrestling fan, stay tuned to Grizzly Gaming and the Delco Elbow Drop for game reviews and pro wrestling news.

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