Thursday, March 26, 2009

MadWorld (Wii) Review

Continuing with the "M-rated" spiel, let's take a look at the newly-released MadWorld for the Wii. I mentioned this one in yesterday's article, but does that mean it's a bad game? Yes, it does. No, I'm just messing with you. It's great.

Let's Paint the Town Red.

After the poor sales of their last game together, Okami, Clover Studios was disbanded by Capcom. However, like a phoenix rising from the ashes, the company lives again, but this time under the Platinum Games label. MadWorld is the Platinum Games' first of many projects for the upstart developer, and their game has finally launched on the Nintendo Wii. A brutal, bloody beat-em-up, Is MadWorld a title worthy of the same people who brought us Viewtiful Joe, Okami, and God Hand?

Jefferson Island has been designated at the venue for the Deathwatch Games, an event where it's killed or be killed-- no citizen is safe. You play as Jack, a gruff, seasoned expert when it comes to the "art" of killing. With a chainsaw equipped to his arm for easy access, Jack's motives for entering the Deathwatch Games are unclear. As the game progresses, you learn Jack's dark past, the reason for the resurgence of the games after years of its absence, and the shady men orchestrating it all. The story elements compared to the commentary, performed by veteran voice actor John Dimaggio and comedian Greg Proops, is like a night and day. While the story has a serious and mature tone to it, the commentary and in-game antics are juvenile at best, filled with lowbrow humor and blatantly over-the-top violence. This isn't a bad thing, however, as MadWorld doesn't attempt to take itself all too seriously at any point in the game. While the commentary often repeats itself, sometimes to the point where you can easily recite their lines after a few times heard, it's quite funny for those who aren't overly sensitive towards gallows humor, risque language, and lots of sexual references. Those looking for thoughtful, witty jokes and irony need not apply.

Just like the school buses, the public buses in
Asian Town sport spikes on their sides.

MadWorld utilizes a sensational stylistic visual approach perhaps to work around the Wii's technical shortcomings. Regardless of any reason, MadWorld plays like something out of a graphic novel with its monochromatic world and copious amounts of red blood to accent it. Cut-scenes are presented not only in full motion video sequences but also comic book-esque scenes supporting the style of the game splendidly. Things are fantastic on the sound front, too, as already evidenced by the wacky and hilarious commentary, but also as MadWorld features a terrific original soundtrack including a mix of rap, hip-hop, and metal perfectly suitable for destroying human life as you bop your head along in amusement. Small effects like the Wii remote's speaker sputtering like Jack's chainsaw as he uses it is quite a cool touch as well.

MadWorld has Jack starting from a low ranking position, trying to bludgeon his way up the rankings, killing higher ranks than him as he sets his eye for the number one spot as Deathwatch Games champion. Each level has Jack let loose in an area, trying to get as many points as possible until he's met the requirement to face off against the area's boss. These points aren't obtained by answering trivia questions asked by Marc Summers either, folks. No, the complexity of Jack's kills is all that matters. Every area has a multitude of marvelous ways to mutilate the games' moronic minions for maximum points. While Jack can grab an enemy and pound their chest into a spiked wall a few times for a fair amount of points, Jack can slam a barrel over their body, jam a signpost through their skull, and then hammer their bloody body through the spiked wall for an even higher point combo. If that seems too complicated, Jack can always just slice and dice unrelenting foes in two... or three... or four with his chainsaw, hold a foe up to a propeller blade as it skins them alive, toss a baddie into a grinder that doesn't care if it gets fed pork, beef, or human as long as it gets some action, or kill enemies through the many exclusive level deathtraps just clamoring to be used.

Who needs talk when you can just cut to the chase?

As Jack's point total increases to a given amount in a given level, new bonuses and events pop up. These range from more dangerous enemies to new deathtraps powering on to health items and weapons being unlocked to the ultra-violent Bloodbath Challenges. These events are timed challenges focusing around a deadly device or "gimmick". For example, the Death Press challenge's goal is to toss as many unsuspecting goons under a giant press that will crush their bodies in a cacophony of crimson while Man Darts' goal is to smack a flurry of enemies into a giant dartboard for points. Beats the hell out of the Grand Theft Auto IV's dart game any day, am I right? The levels themselves are mostly non-linear. They're not too large to explore, but they're not too small either. They're the perfect size to offer enough exploration without getting lost or wondering where the heck the enemies scurried off to. To break up the brawling, some levels feature Jack on a motorcycle duking it out with other disgruntled drivers on a fixed track.

The object here is to toss as many enemies
into that propeller as possible.

Once enough points have finally been earned, Jack can either keep hunting enemies down in the level (if the time limit permits) or ring the boss challenge bell for his ranking battle. The bosses in MadWorld are extremely cool to face off against. From taking on a giant ogre to taking down a tag team of electrical elites, the boss battles make MadWorld more than enough for any bloodthirsty gamer out there, and you know most of you are bloodthirsty to begin with. Each boss has a pattern that must be learned if Jack wants to gain any sort of advantage in battle. Every boss has an opening allowing Jack to rev up his chainsaw and go in for a clean strike.. er.. well, as clean as a chainsaw strike can be. There's also opportunities for Jack to go into a power struggle with the enemy which is essentially an elaborate quick-time event. Winning such a cinematic and entertaining struggle really does some damage to the baddie in question. Once a boss' health is all the way down, Jack is prompted to finish him/her/it/them off, and each death seems to be more outrageous, sensational, and crazy as the last. And I thought a gunshot to the head was a violent way to go... these deaths have nothing on that.

The bigger they are, the more bones they break!
Right, Michaelangelo?

Murdering multiple men as Jack is pretty simple to develop a rhythm for. Both the Wii remote and nunchuk are used for maximum carnage. Punches are mapped to the A button, holding the button grabs an item or enemy) while the chainsaw is mapped to the B button and swipes of the Wii remote. Other motion control occurs to toss foes like the rag dolls they are, complete QTEs such as slamming a foe's sword through their own chest, and various other situations. These all work well, but sometimes I didn't even move the Wii remote the right way, yet the action was still done on screen. To be fair, I'd rather have the controls work half-assed in some situations than not at all.

What doesn't work as well is MadWorld's camera. While it's usable, it's quite clunky, and a bit cumbersome. Locking on works, but only if you're facing the enemy or boss. If that aforementioned enemy or boss leaves your line of view, you're pretty much S.O.L. until you can lock-on again. It's much more troublesome than it should be, but it's nothing game-breaking at all. It will make the hard mode, where Jack only gets one life to work with and the enemies are much more offensive and deal more damage, much more frustrating to play.

"Don't mind me, guys. I'm just tired."
Thank you. I'll be here all week.

Although MadWorld can take an upwards of six hours to complete (and that's stretching it), the bonus goodies unlocked give the player new toys to tackle the abundantly more difficult hard more. Attempting to improve upon you highest scores in levels bring some old-school fun to the game as well. Back in my day and all that. Additionally, various Bloodbath Challenges can be played in two player split-screen for double the pleasure and double the lacerated limbs.

While not a perfect game, MadWorld is indeed a game for Wii owners coming off House of the Dead: Overkill looking for another balls-to-the-wall, over-the-top, I-can't-believe-they-just-went-there experience. It's definitely not for everyone as ironically the "mature" rating is mostly for juvenile reasons. Those who don't care either way will have a great beat-em-up with a visually impressive style and the top-notch presentation to make one enticing package.

[SuperPhillip Says: 8.5/10]

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