The Wii gets hardcore.
Formed from staff of the now-defunct Clover Studios, you can almost guarantee that any game from them is going to be different. Their past games – Okami, Viewtiful Joe and God Hand – were all unique in their own way and MadWorld is no different.
Taking the form of a 3d beat ’em up, you play as Jack, a former marine, who has to fight his way through the Death Watch game show set up by terrorists who are holding the fictional Varrigan City hostage. A virus has been released which will kill in twenty four hours and the only way to get the vaccine is to participate in the game and kill other people. The whole plot is basically a mix of Escape from New York and The Running Man, which is always a good thing.
Each level takes place in a different section of the city and has a thirty minute time limit. They consist of multi-level arenas rather than a linear path from beginning to end. To progress you have to build up your score by defeating the enemies, the more brutal their death the more points awarded. Throughout the levels are various environmental hazards such as spiked walls, circular saws etc. in order to do that. After a certain score has been achieved, new things are unlocked varying from weapons such as spiked baseball bats or daggers, to health items.
You will also unlock mid-level mini games, “Blood Bath Challenges”, for the opportunity to add bonus points to your overall score – one example of this is “Man Darts” where you have to hit enemies at giant dartboard using a baseball bat, with a bulls eye awarding the most points. These mini-games can also be played as a multiplayer mode. Once you have gained a high enough score, the boss battle is unlocked and upon beating them your Death Watch ranking is increased. There are also a couple of Road Rash-style motorbike levels where you take down pursuing enemies. These are relatively brief and serve the purpose of breaking up the action of the normal levels. While they are fun, the game often suffers from some pretty bad slowdown in these sections but not enough to ruin the experience.
While many games fail to utilise the Wii’s motion control capabilities properly, MadWorld gets it right.The remote controls your attacks, tap A to punch and hold it to grapple. B revs your arm-mounted chainsaw with either a horizontal or vertical slash executed by moving the remote in the respective direction, and the revving sound comes from the speaker in the remote which is a nice little touch. A strong hook and an uppercut can also be done using the same method but without pressing B. On the nunchuck, the analogue stick obviously controls the movement, and a quick flick causes Jack to back flip which acts as his dodge manoeuvre. The C button snaps the camera back behind Jack and the Z button is jump. Quick time events are also a big part of the game but, thankfully, they are done right and in no way do they feel annoying and cheap. They are mainly used during boss battles to deal out large amounts of damage, God of War-style, and are the only way to kill them outright in a variety of satisfying ways. It’s games like this which show how motion controls, when done right, can be superior to simple button presses in certain situations.
It’s big, it’s stupid, it’s violent and it doesn’t give a damn who knows it.
MadWorld is grotesquely gory and incredibly stylish. The game puts you in control of a forty-something ex-marine called Jack Cayman as he cuts a bloody swathe through a twisted, monotone hellhole called Varrigan City all in the name of rescuing the mayor’s daughter. The entire city has been taken over by a terrorist group called The Organizers who have turned the place into a giant game show called Death Watch, filled with zombies, aliens, vampires, brutal gangs and massive chainsaw wielding maniacs wearing Minotaur masks, all eager to win by laying waste to everything that moves.
For the hardcore gamers out there who have been waiting for a game to come along, that would finally force you to take the Wii seriously, I sayâ€¦ this is it. Although the game is somewhat short you won’t be disappointed if you knock the difficulty up and provide yourself with a real challenge, with brutal enemies waiting eagerly to knock you down a peg, as well as some fantastic memorable boss fights that put the Wii’s unique control scheme to good use. MadWorld also looks and sounds incredible with its black and white graphics that do well to emphasises the harsh, gory atmosphere of the game, as well as some fantastic audio commentary from Greg Proops and John DiMaggio that bring a somewhat childish but extremely funny sense of humour to the game akin to something out of a south park episode.
MadWorld is exactly the sort of game that hardcore Wii fans have been crying out for, it’s violent, it’s daft and it’s deeply, deeply satisfying to play. If you’re a fan of the unadulterated grittiness of the old GTA games, you’ll definitely love this.Secondary Score: 9/10
I previously mentioned Platinum Games’ products in their former guise being unique in some way or other. The visuals in MadWorld are simply fantastic and show that art style can more than make up for lack of graphical horsepower. The black & white visuals look like a graphic novel in motion, it looks like no other game you have played. The overall lack of colour accentuates the blood. It is a brutal and violent game but the violence is much more slapstick than realistic, the comic-style “WHAAACK” AND “SPLAAAT” in large yellow lettering only reinforce this. Imagine a black & white version of Itchy & Scratchy and you are almost there.
Matching perfectly with the slapstick violence is the over-the-top commentary provided by Greg Proops (Who’s Line Is It Anyway?) and John DiMaggio (voice of Bender and Marcus Fenix). While it does provide a lot of genuine laugh-out-loud moments, you will begin to notice phrases repeating themselves the longer you play. Also worth mentioning is the impressive hip-hop soundtrack, it unexpectedly gels well with the gameplay and visuals.
Despite the immensely fun combat, it is probably advisable to play through this in multiple sittings taking a level or two at a time. As fun as the game is, the combat can become slightly repetitive after long sessions. The overall length of the game is slightly disappointing though, it took me just under four hours to complete it on the normal difficulty setting setting. Although having said that, you can go back and replay any previous levels which adds to the longevity. A harder difficulty mode is unlocked upon completion of the game and it’s no slouch, enemies hit harder and you’ll lose more health. It forces you to change the way you play, less gung-ho and much more cautious and conservative.
Along with the recent release of House of the Dead: Overkill (also published by SEGA) MadWorld offers something different than the vast majority of other Wii games. With great gameplay and fantastic visuals, Platinum Games’ first release ultimately shows the same magic present in their past games as Clover Studios and this will hopefully continue with their other upcoming games.