The acronym stands for Mechanized Assault and eXploration, and gives good insight into the modus operandi of this strategy game. As the commander of one of eight armored factions, it's your job to explore various planets, establish and expand a base of operations, mine for the resources you need, and build an army of tanks, rocket launchers, fighter jets, gunboats and other vehicles of destruction. To tame the land, you'll also need surveyors, supply trucks, bulldozers and the like.
It sounds like Command & Conquer, but M.A.X. is a far more complex game. Beyond the basics of "explore, build and attack," you must manage the allocation of resources among different types of structures; send surveyors to uncover deposits of raw materials, fuel and gold; and factor in the limited per-turn movement of each unit. Although M.A.X. lets you choose among timed, turn-based play and real-time play, the latter doesn't operate quite like C&C. The combat unfolds in real time, but you're still limited to the confines of turns.