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MadWorld (Wii) artwork

MadWorld (Wii) review

"Hereís how amazing MadWorld is: As soon as I finished the gameís first level, I went back and played it again. As opposed to, you know, moving on to the next stage. Whether I was impaling my opponents with street signs, ramming them ass-first through spikes jutting out of the floor, or merely holding them in place as roaring trains violently chafed away at their flesh, Iíd been having so much fun exploring the countless methods of bloodily incapacitating my adversaries that I didní..."

Hereís how amazing MadWorld is: As soon as I finished the gameís first level, I went back and played it again. As opposed to, you know, moving on to the next stage. Whether I was impaling my opponents with street signs, ramming them ass-first through spikes jutting out of the floor, or merely holding them in place as roaring trains violently chafed away at their flesh, Iíd been having so much fun exploring the countless methods of bloodily incapacitating my adversaries that I didnít want to risk being disappointed had I discovered that the remainder of MadWorld wasnít such a fucking blast.

Good thing that wasnít the case. Letís start with the most extreme example: Bloodbath Challenges. Good lord. MadWorld could easily be mistaken for another one of those brawlers that distributes points based on the stylishness of the playerís performance, until we remember that protagonist Jackís bulky physique doesnít exactly lend itself to Matrix-inspired agility, nor is his chainsaw the most graceful killing tool. Replace ďstyleĒ with ďgoreĒ and thatís MadWorld, gleefully encouraging players to slay their foes in the most shocking and brutal ways available to them, and providing countless opportunities to do so. It would be considered a criminal design flaw in this retooled Jefferson Island, taken over by terrorists and turned the stage for a violent game show, if there wasnít a wall-mounted hook or industrial fan within five feet of any spot where a fight is likely to break out. Which is everywhere.

So these Bloodbath Challenges, which pop up at least once per level, delve into the execution methods that are, if anything, too over-the-top to become regular occurrences. The first one, and the subject of many a MadWorld screenshot, drops a giant jet engine into the middle of the arena. Why? So you can throw people into it. Later, youíll be golfing with zombie heads, ramming foes into cannons and creating a fireworks display of blood and human tissueÖ thereís even a mini-game where you shake up bottles of champagne, force them into thugsí mouths, and fire them at giant cardboard cutouts of scantily clad women with the hopes of sticking them to spiky tits and vaginas: Hit all three sweet spots to experience BLISS, MadWorld tells you. This industryís rush to justify every video gameís M rating is at times sickening, but there comes a point when a game is so obviously exaggerated and intentionally gratuitous that you find yourself laughing with the developers, not at them.

Had the game not relished in its gore (and, for that matter, been altogether bloodless), youíd almost think MadWorld was the product of Nintendo itself, given its dedication to making the most of its position as a Wii exclusive. Most obvious is its incredibly distinct visual style, which will certainly draw comparisons to Sin City, though Iím more reminded of a little animated French film called Renaissance, which employed the same color scheme: Stark black and white, with a few scarce shades of gray incorporated so subtly that youíll barely notice them. (The one color we do see plenty of is red, and Iíll let you figure out why.) It would be easy to dismiss MadWorldís stylized presentation as a way of masking the Wiiís technological inferiority, but thatís exactly the point. So much of the gameís beauty is due to its eye-opening visual style that itís hard to imagine MadWorld looking any better on more powerful consoles.

And it would probably play worse, too, given MadWorldís reliance on the Wii remote as a key aspect of the battle mechanics. The bulk of Jackís most powerful attacks are activated with a swift motion of the controller. Thrust it upward for an uppercut that sends foes flying. Hold down the B trigger to fire up your rechargeable chainsaw, and swing the remote accordingly to slice an opponent cleanly down the middle or across the waist. After several years of watching the patented cover system leak its way into other games, we discover another of Gears of Warís major influences: CHAINSAWS ARE FUN. And this game offers one of the few creative and appropriate uses for the remoteís speaker Iíve seen, as watching a downed foe split in two while the roar of your chainsaw literally echoes from your hand is a distinct sensation: That's power you're wielding.

Most of Jackís interactions with his environment involve context-specific Wii controller movements as well. When a city bus armored with rose bushes (the artificial, metal kind) pulls into Asian Town, executing an enemy with one of those lovely spikes is never a matter of merely sticking them once; Jack just stands there, impaling the poor bastard over and over with an accompanying motion on the Wii remote (and a splatter of blood) every time.

You know, as sick as I am of quick-time events, Iím convinced that Wii is the one console where theyíre still potentially effective. I say this because MadWorld marks the first time Iíve thrown my Wii controller, involuntarily or otherwise. Iíve owned the console for a little over a month now, and Iíve been uniformly ignoring the wrist strap and scoffing at the systemís frequent warnings, UNTIL. A boss several levels into MadWorld had me pinned down with two enormous blades closing in on Jackís neck, and the game prompted me to shake the remote and nunchuk wildly. And then another icon suddenly popped up, instructing me to force the two away from each other, an act I performed with such urgency that the controller went flying across the room. No damage, but I did scare the piss out of my roommate, and it just comes to show how MadWorldís quick-time events get the player involved. I wasnít concerned with my grip on the remote because I was preoccupied with forcing the two giant fucking blades of death away from Jackís vulnerable throat.

MadWorld is certainly sophisticated enough in presentation and mechanics to avoid being labeled ďmindless,Ē yet itís amazing how it still manages to entertain in the simplest of ways, embracing the now age-old principle that gore makes gaming a more satisfying affair. While the gameís hilarious commentators (voiced by Greg Proops and John Di Maggio Ė brilliant casting) are sure to please, most of the gameís laughs are inspired by the sheer juvenile absurdity of whatís unfolding on the TV screen Ė and Sega seems okay with that. Itís kind of the point, really. Punching a guy is boring. Throwing an explosive barrel at a guy is boring. Tossing a guy into a meat grinder is fucking awesome. MadWorld is the type of game where the campaignís short length isnít even a factor Ė this is a game that at one point has players chucking zombies at pointy fountain fixtures thus finding a suitable alternative fluid to make up for the monumentís curious lack of water. That, my friends, is the kind of gameplay you keep coming back to.

You will also keep coming back to the boss battle against a sumo wrestler who attacks by leaping into the air and throwing helicopters at you.

Oh, and as for the frequent complaints about the gameís camera system: Deal with it. As long as we can see what we need to see, we're fine, and the folks at Platinum Games were smart enough to waive off worries by implementing a trusty targeting system for those larger-than-life boss battles. I can only urge you to ignore MadWorldís potential shortcomings and buy it anyway, and be thankful that even during this supposed Wii drought, you can justify your purchase of the console with a single game. Itís the most fun Iíve had with the system and I doubt thatíll ever change. Hell, the game is such an eye-opener and an attention-getter that at one point, there were literally eight other people from my floor gathered around me, oohing and aahing and cheering and gasping whenever a particularly gruesome act of violence erupted on screen. Thatís the kind of experience even fabulous games like Super Mario Galaxy could never replicate.

Itís just so awesome. Fuck.

Suskie's avatar
Community review by Suskie (April 16, 2009)

Mike Suskie is a freelance writer who has contributed to GamesRadar and has a blog. He can usually be found on Twitter at @MikeSuskie.

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If you enjoyed this MadWorld review, you're encouraged to discuss it with the author and with other members of the site's community. If you don't already have an HonestGamers account, you can sign up for one in a snap. Thank you for reading!

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zippdementia posted April 16, 2009:

Suskie, you make me jealous with your reviewing ability. Stop it.
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Suskie posted April 16, 2009:

Actually I thought you were going to say that I made you jealous because I still own my Wii and can play this game. In fact, I think I'm gonna go play it some more right now.

Anyway, thanks a lot.
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Lewis posted April 17, 2009:

This is an absolutely superb review.
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EmP posted April 17, 2009:

I'm thinking about buying this one. Which will make it the first Wii game I've gone out and bought ever.

But, then, I might not.
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JANUS2 posted April 18, 2009:

I've been wondering why Sega decided to release such a violent and artistic game exclusively for the Wii, but this review makes it clear that Mad World is dependent on its format. Your point about the value of quick time events on the Wii was interesting (and the anecdote about flying controllers was an amusing way to support your argument).

I agree with Zipp and Lewis, this is an excellent review. Although your defence of Mad World's camera (deal with it!) is one that I would use to defend Ninja Gaiden's, so I'd be interested to play the game for myself and see how they compare. I think it's probably accurate to say that if you absolutely love a game then the camera won't bother you (whereas indifference towards a game will make you less inclined to put up with a poor camera). But I'm not buying a Wii just for Mad World so I suppose I'll never know!
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bluberry posted April 18, 2009:

Ninja Gaiden's camera is indefensible, janass.

good shit Suskie, I need to spend more time with this but from what I played it's rad. God Hand was a crowd-gatherer when I was living in the dorms haha, Clover/Platinum must have some sort of magic touch.
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zigfried posted April 18, 2009:

Ninja Gaiden's camera isn't just defensible -- it's good.

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Suskie posted April 18, 2009:

Thanks for the comments, everyone. In response to what Janus said, that's an interesting point. I loved MadWorld and hated Ninja Gaiden, yet their camera control is virtually identical. There are a couple of distinctions to make:

1. MadWorld runs at a much slower pace that doesn't require constant camera adjustments.

2. The angle of the camera was one of the things that bothered me about Ninja Gaiden and that's never an issue in MadWorld.

3. MadWorld has a lock-on system that isn't worth using in any of the smaller fights but is an absolute godsend during the boss battles because it keeps the bosses front and center.

I can see what you're saying, Janus, but my point wasn't that MadWorld is so much fun that I'm able to dismiss its flaws. I'm saying that while the camera control certainly could have been more sophisticated (I mean, the d-pad is used for, what, item management?), as long as I can see what I need to see, and as long as the game's flow isn't broken by the need to fumble with the camera then I'm cool with it.

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