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MadWorld review
SEGA Brings The Hardcore


When I first heard of the title MadWorld, I thought it sounded like some cheap WiiWare title. After about a second of investigation, however, I discovered I was so wrong that I deserved a signpost through the head. Luckily I didn’t receive one, and so I delved further into the interesting development by Platinum Games (Clover Studios who left Capcom and merged with Seed Inc.) in conjunction with SEGA. It turns out this is actually a very explicit game for the more mature gamers out there. Interested by the fact this could be a game to shut up the annoying fanboys who whinge that the Wii cannot provide good games or hardcore titles, I happily loaded the pre-owned game (with no clue how it managed to pass mustard in Australia) I’d luckily stumbled across and found myself introduced to a very unique and refreshing experience.

Jefferson Island has been completely cut-off from the rest of the world, a terrorist group known as The Organizers having taken total control and severed all forms of communication and transportation. To make matters worse, they’ve released a virus upon the citizens, who are all now in a great deal of panic at the looming concern of being dead in twenty-four hours. The group aren’t completely heartless, however, offering the opportunity of a cure if they kill other people.

So, who's next?

Thus sets the stage for the popular game show, DeathWatch. Blood-thirsty audiences hungrily watch as everyone stalks the city, attacking each other from the shadows in hope of tallying another kill. They begin to place bets, bringing money and corruption into the game. Though they want more so along comes outsiders, people interested in the money and glory but without the looming threat of the deadly virus, as well as a good bloodbath. Rich and secretive sponsors also come into the fold, promising money and safety to high ranking players in order to reap the benefits from their success. So where do you come in?

Meet Jack Cayman, extreme bad ass who knows how to get the job done and do it right. Walking into the city of death as an outsider, he quickly gains himself a sponsor through Agent XIII after smashing a fellow contestant almost instantly. Yet, there’s something strange about Jack’s behaviour. And so, now that you’re inside and have yourself a sponsor, it’s time to get on with the game and find out why you’re really here.

Now that you’re in, welcome to the world of pain where you’re the chef and hundreds upon hundreds of hungry customers await you to dish it out to them. The moves in this game are absolutely brilliant sporting a range of hits, slams, throws, chainsaw swipes and finishing moves. Oh, and you can dodge... which you will actually need! The aim of this game is to kill your opponents in the most gruesome combination of ways possible. You could beat him up, or you could ram two poles through his head, shove him in a bin, pick him up again and repeatedly slam that guy against a Rose Bush (a cute name for a wall of spikes). Although enemies merely stand still for the first few levels, get a little bit further into the game and find yourself being assaulted at every step. And if your moves themselves don’t sound like enough to keep you interested just wait, it gets better.

You ain't got the balls, kid

Ever been one of those people who said “Damn, I wish I could interact with the environment more”? Of course you are; anyone who’s been in action/fighting games has wanted a little more intimacy between their character and the world around them. Well, MadWorld actually listened to you guys and happily provides what you’ve longed for. Whether it is a barrel, a street sign, a box or something far out like a pirate hat (for those pesky ninjas), there is a plethora of objects scattered around the maps for your brutal pleasures. On top of that, you’ll encounter some really awesome stationary hazards such as a guillotine that slices down across the path and catapults for launching your enemies into the moon no less! If it doesn’t need to be there, you can do something with it. Such is the beauty of the MadWorld environment.

Along with your basic enemies to beat up, you’re also provided a mini-boss for the level and a main boss. Your mini-boss likes to pop up repeatedly to try and hamper your point scoring and knock you out before you can progress. They take more effort than the average enemy, requiring you to perform some sort of pre-set routine for each in order to finish them off nice and fast. These help to break up the pointsfest you’re currently participating in to unlock the next part of the map, so a nice inclusion. Then there’s your main boss of the level and wow, are they bad ass. They boast a lot of health, cool unique moves and a personality of style. Both mini-bosses and main bosses provide opportunities at certain points in the routine known as a Power Struggle. A Power Struggle is a quick time event (an interactive cutscene) and each one is unique. You have to perform a combination of different attacks through the buttons and motions in order to take a huge chunk of their health off. Fail to succeed in a Power Struggle, and enjoy seeing your health dramatically decrease instead. Furthermore, each main boss has what’s known as the Finishing Move. Some of these are another quick time event; others are simply initiating it and watching the fireworks.

Darn, knew I should've brought the big chainsaw today

If this still isn’t enough for you, try out the Bloodbath Challenge mode. These are, in simple terms, very violent mini-games within levels. You may have to chuck guys into a plane turbine or shove them into canisters to be shot up with fireworks to explode in a cloud of blood in the air. Be warned, they’re so addictive you may find yourself replaying levels just to participate in them again!

And for those of you who are really, really stubborn, there’s also the bike levels that might interest you. Although not enjoyable as the other features, it was still an interesting idea to try and it does bring more to the table. Think Mario Karts only an infinite times more violent, seeing you taking to the streets on a suped-up motorcycle to take on enemies in their equally beasty vehicles. You can grab them off or slice them off, it’s up to you. If you’re in a tight spot, or want to catch some serious air, you also have a temporary boost feature which, like your chainsaw, recharges over time.

You also have some multiplayer options to share the gory fun with your friends and fam... well, perhaps just friends. Enjoy the fun of a Bloodbath Challenge all over again but this time in a race to see who out of you and your friends is the most bloodthirsty of all. It’s a shame they didn’t do more with the multiplayer mode but it’s not a big deal, why share the fun when you can keep it to yourself?

Hey babe, wanna play darts?

Having said all of this, there is one issue. The most glaringly obvious one in my eyes is the occasional awkward nature of the camera system. You have to lock onto your enemy using the C button and then stay locked on until they’re dead, unless you hold down the C button again. This makes for a slow and often frustrating targeting system. You also have to use this function to try and square up the camera, as it’ll often decide to face in a direction that Jack isn’t. And I know people have other issues with the game, being length and replay value, but I disagree. The levels and the features within them are more than enough to keep you coming back for more. As for length, I think it’s quite impressive they came up with everything they did, never mind more of it. It’d lose its edge if it was a long game, it’s best kept short and fresh (which suits those who play in short bursts well).

So what goes well with high levels of violence? A highly unique set of graphics it seems. Yes, MadWorld is set within a comic-esque world, a graphic novel style which has been compared to Sin City. Don’t worry though; blood still comes in heavy doses of dark red. With such diversity and an extremely unique artistic flair, the developer has really shown that they fully understand what’s needed when it comes to a Wii game to compensate for the lack of graphical power at hand. Given the wide variation of outcomes in battle and the environments always looking distinctly different and just as interesting, it’s also clear that a lot of effort was put into the graphics and it’s paid off handsomely.

Cutscenes are not an issue within this game. They are the story teller (let’s face it, tearing a guy in half isn’t going to tell you anything new) and they tell it well. They don’t take too long or get on your nerves, it’s actually quite nice to sit back and relax for a couple of minutes (if you play the game right, you should get tired wrists) before your next date at the spa bath of blood.

I heart these graphics

I’ll admit it now; the soundtrack is not my thing. I’m not into music like Rap and the like, which is basically the entirety of the games soundtrack (though I do like the drums during cutscenes). Despite the fact I dislike it, it’s pleasing that what they’ve chosen to include works well with the rest of the game. I don’t think it’s particularly energetic or interesting, it just works well. I prefer the sounds of the game, such as all the manly grunting you’ll be hearing and the chainsaw as it butchers everyone in sight.

To accompany this, is a very good selection of people for the voice acting. Jack is played by the relatively well known Steven Blum, who provides a truly beasty set of vocals to really boost the persona of the protagonist. Greg Proops and John DiMaggio are the twosome who provides the commentary for the games, providing a barrel of laughs as you slaughter the masses. Also of notable mention is the Black Baron played by Reno Wilson, the most pimping pimp you’ll ever meet. Oh and don’t forget the constant swearing, which is both surprisingly tasteful and highly amusing.

So how does one summarise such a brilliant game? Madworld is, in terms of both gameplay and graphics, nothing short of incredible. The controls are smooth, the scenery is great and the title can really boast that it’s set itself apart from everything else in the market. It provides a game for Wii owners to sink their teeth into and to throw at their annoying fanboy friends who said they were wimps for buying the “casual gamer” console. The game is a little lacking, but it’s not a huge issue. This game has set the scene for what will hopefully be more great games of a similar path for the Wii. I recommend MadWorld to anyone who enjoys a good laugh (indeed, I’ve never laughed so much during a game before) and whole lot of over-the-top violence, as well as admirers of a good storyline and interesting graphical concept... as long as they’re of the appropriate age!

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