It is not often that a game comes along that succeeds only in being senselessly violent and yet works so well, becoming an addictive experience. Even less often is this sort of game appearing on the Wii. However, this is just what has happened with MadWorld, published by SEGA and developed by Platinum Games.
MadWorld stars hard-as-nails Jack Cayman, a grizzled bad-ass with a chainsaw gauntlet on his right arm and a very bad attitude. The object of the game is to pound on enemies to earn enough points to gain the right to battle against the boss character of the stage. Of course, just chainsawing everything might not be enough to get the needed points in time, so players are tasked with making their kills as gruesome as possible by using objects scattered around the environment. A mainstay for most of the game is to slam a tin can or tire over an enemy, jam several signs into his skull, then either slam him against a wall of spikes or toss him toward said wall of spikes in the hopes of getting another sap or two along the way. The game can be rather easy at first, as fodder enemies offer little in the way of resistance in the beginning stages, but the game slowly cranks up the difficulty, making it a race to inflict maximum damage before being caught in a large group of enemies. Bloodbath Challenge mini-games help to break up the monotony by providing amusing challenges, such as throwing as many people as possible into a jet turbine within a time limit, or a violent form of darts which is played by batting enemies onto a dartboard. While there is a time limit in most stages, players with even the slightest skill will be able to get their points well before the 30 minutes are up, though sticking around a bit before the boss can provide entertainment for those who are especially sadistic. In addition, motorcycle stages, boss-only stages and the final gauntlet help to break up the game play, keeping things relatively fresh.
The boss battles themselves are, however, not as creative. There are usually very few environmental items that have a significant effect on the bosses, and normal attacks tend to do very little damage, so boss battles are almost always reduced to repeating a quick time event three or four times in order to beat the boss. It’s actually quite anti-climatic, since the boss designs – including a Helghast look-alike with two mini turbines for arms, a kung-fu hottie who attacks with giant paper fans, and a big-breasted vampire who attacks with a legion of bats – beg for some crazy environmental killing. It’s a crying shame that a game centered around creative killing would feature so little of it in what should be its high points. Also a shame is the lack of variety in the announcers’ lines. While the in-game commentary is funny in and of itself, there’s just not enough of it in the game to avoid near repetition of some jokes. One can only hear “No means yes, and yes means anal!” so many times before the line gets old.
The game’s presentation is incredibly slick. Rather than drenching it with bright colors or trying for the sort of “realistic” look that can only look muddy on the underpowered Wii, the game is presented in a stark black and white, the only other colors being used on effect text (ie, “CRASH!”) or blood, helping to give the game a distinctive comic book feel while hiding the Wii’s limitations. The music is also amazing, comprised entirely of especially aggressive rap music which helps to get players in the mood to commit acts of mass murder, and also lends to the game’s feel of unrelenting, unrepentant violence.
Controls are solid, but unremarkable. Almost everything of value is done with a simple shake of the Wii Remote or the Wii Nunchuck, including the quick time events, which often devolve into feverish shaking of both parts of the controller. The camera can be a bit of a bugbear, but it is mitigated by the ability to tap C to center the camera or hold C to lock onto certain enemies, the latter of which is especially useful in boss fights.
To close off, MadWorld is a hell of a game. While the boss fights are a bit of a downer and the announcers can be annoying in their repetitiveness, the sheer fun in trying to beat high scores or coming up with larger and larger kill combos is hard to deny. To those who have been hungering for a Wii game that is fun for more than five minutes, MadWorld is that game. Go pick it up now.