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April 8, 2009

Review: MadWorld

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Written by: Dalibor Dimovski
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MadWorld Wii

Review: MadWorld for the Nintendo Wii
Written By:
Dalibor Dimovski
Managing Editor

When MadWorld was first announced, there was a substantial void of core gaming to be found on the Wii.  Almost a year later, and although we’re still in that very same situation, MadWorld makes its debut to the masses hoping to lead a Wii core renaissance.  With everything we had heard about this game prior to its launch (the gore, the violence, the aesthetic, the M-Rating) it can be hard to imagine that a game like this can actually manage to appeal not only to the core gamer but to the casual adult as well.  I was able to complete the game recently and had the time to jot down some notes in hopes to better help other potential buyers make a slightly more educated decision about what to expect from it.

MadWorld takes place in a future where the popular reality shows involve the maiming of the contestants.  Think “Survivor” meets Texas Chainsaw Massacre.  Our protagonist, Jack, ventures into the arena of death backed by his sponsor, XIII (pronounce “thirteen”) who provides the necessary learning of the games attack moves.  As the story unfolds, it goes from a simple premise to a complete package full of story twists, antagonists, and depth.  Yes, this game’s story is actually intriguing.  Jack has quickly emerged as a great game character.

The very first (and most obvious) trait of MadWorld you discover is its graphic art style.  Because of its highly contrasting black & white imagery the Sin City comparison has been made to the Nth degree.  But there is also the theme of watching an ultra-violent episode of American Gladiators through an ancient monochromatic television monitor, complete with retro-styled “boob-tube” presentation, camera flicker, and the obligatory “live feed”.  The presentation of this game mimics what you might find in an early eighties ninja flick… if the ninjas had chainsaws.  The only color you will find in the game is in the immensely satisfying explosions of red blood (bloodsplosions?) that occur whenever Jack (the main character) so much as sneezes on an enemy.  Without sounding like a complete psychopath, the violence is depicted in a way that makes it less realistic by intent  This isn’t Grand Theft Auto.

The soundtrack to MadWorld is best described two-fold.  First, the game’s music is a combination of speed metal and Japanese karate flick soundtracks.  In fact, the mix adds to the accelerated pace at which the epic-scale brawls take place.  Second, the announcers (Greg Proops and John DiMaggio) do a fantastic play-by-play of the on-screen action.  Although repetitive at times, the commentary is spot-on, providing an extra little nugget to the experience.

One myth to debunk: MadWorld is not a brawler.  Well it is, but not in the typical sense.  The on-screen action is best described as multilayered.  Some players will simply punch, kick, and throw their way through the game.  Others will engage in the multiple methods of killing an enemy (poles through the head, impaled on spikes, catapulting to the moon… standard fare) that encompass earning style points for the brutality of the death.  The kills are often a combo/series of individual stylized attacks that result in massive life loss.  Finally, the third set of players will experience the game as a set of quick time events.  The only actual “brawling” is the punching.  Everything else, such as the stop sign into the head and the dunking into a tank of piranha, is initiated as a motion instead of a button at the right moment.  Realizing this, MadWorld’s focus on style kills becomes ever more apparent.  That said, MadWorld’s mechanic is extremely repetitive and in some cases monotonous.  For instance, to finish a level and unlock a boss fight the player has to rack up a specific amount of points attained only through kills.  I can see there being a point where a player gets bored of doing the same kill motions over and over just to progress the level.

MadWorld freshens things up by interspersing minigames throughout the levels, allowing the player to try his or her hand at some truly outrageous kills.  Throwing a ninja into a meat grinder?  Check.  Crushing zombies with a giant Franken-fist?  Check.  Exploding aliens?  Triple check.  Although not always noticible, there is a fair amount of variety in the weapons and scenery that is employed in the attacks.  The boss fights are excellent, fun, and memorable.

There is a multiplayer mode as well.  Although simple, it deals with Jack and his opponent playing through the different Bloodbath Challenges (the minigames unlocked throughout the main quest).  No co-op, sorry.

Likes

  • The graphic novel aesthetic fits this game, and the Wii, perfectly.
  • This may be one of the only games where waggle actually works, and works extremely well.
  • The soundtrack and announcers are terrific and add an unexpected level of depth to the overall package.
  • The minigames are brutally fun.  The majority of my time playing was dealt to these mini explosions of action, and I can keep coming back to them.
  • The length of the game is from 3-5 hours for a first-time through.  This is perfect for someone who may get bored with the mechanic if it is too long.

Dislikes

  • The length of the game is from 3-5 hours.  Although a positive, this is also a drawback.  I would have loved to see a “Second Quest” with an alternate character.  There is the standard “Hard Mode” and extra weapons, though.
  • The repetitiveness of the attack motions can wear a person down.  This is the game’s fatal flaw.
  • No Co-Op or online leaderboards.  This would have been great to match level scores with friends.

MadWorld accomplishes exactly what it set out to do: It is a Wii game that caters to the core gamer, provides tremendous fun, and doesn’t scare away the casual adult gamer who happens to love blood and gore.  Lead character Jack is one of the best game characters to come along in a while.  The length of the game allows for a game completion in an afternoon, which makes it a great game to take out on a rainy day for a quick playthrough.  MadWorld is a game that every Wii core gamer should own.

Images courtesy Sega.com, Platinum Games

For more information visit MadWorldGame.com



About the Author

Dalibor Dimovski
Dali is the Editor-in-Chief and co-founder of SideQuesting, as well as the co-Founder of CarDesignFetish and the founder of MakLink. Dali is also a car designer, deejay, and introductory beer-brewer.




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