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MadWorld (Wii) artwork

MadWorld (Wii) review


"Our man Jack isn't just dismembering for the hell of it. He's a man on a mission, sent to an isolated island where a bloody sport is being held. The citizens of the island have all become contestants of Death Watch, a game in which contestants kill one another for a crack at the championship. Jack poses as a contestant at first, but over time we see what he's really after. More is revealed that thickens the plot and gives the game that much more depth and style. It's refreshing to play and over-the-top violent game with a sense of storytelling. "



There are days when a man can only take so much patronizing talk, inner city noise, moody weather, and frustrating traffic. It's days filled with those things that make the whir of a chainsaw sound melodious. This is why games like MadWorld exist, to provide catharsis for those who've had a rough day. Sometimes it takes a little creative insanity, like playing as a bearded man with a chainsaw arm who dismembers everyone in his path, to truly stay sane. MadWorld is a game ripe with both violent mayhem and tasteful style.

Our man Jack isn't just dismembering for the hell of it. He's a man on a mission, sent to an isolated island where a bloody sport is being held. The citizens of the island have all become contestants of Death Watch, a game in which contestants kill one another for a crack at the championship. Jack poses as a contestant at first, but over time we see what he's really after. More is revealed that thickens the plot and gives the game that much more depth and style. It's refreshing to play and over-the-top violent game with a sense of storytelling.

Jack rushes onto the streets, assailed by hordes of punks and hooligans armed with bats, knives, and just about anything else that can make a man bleed. You swing the Wiimote and Jack unleashes his retractable chainsaw from his wrist with a ferocious roar. Punching opponents just isn't enough, as it is a very difficult and tedious way to take lives. Ripping through them from head to toe or right across their waists is the quickest and surest way to dispatch a crowd of marauding morons.

But that's tame and boring compared to what Jack could do. Every level has traps cleverly placed, just waiting to be discovered, tinkered and experimented with. Jack picks up a tire, leaps into the air and brings it down on one particularly slow punk. It encircles him, restricting his arms. Jack then grabs a rusty metal sign and jams into the man's head. He's still not quite done with his guinea pig. Nearby is giant fan with seven-foot-long blades. Jack tosses the man in and the fan spits him back out, bit by bit. There are so many different ways to murder in this game: trash fires are scattered about the place, perfect for cooking fools who think they can get the better of Jack; rows of sharp hooks stick out of walls or dangle from ceilings just waiting for punks to hang on them like slaughtered pigs; giant rocket thrusters burst into life, disintegrating opponents; dumpsters outfitted with razor sharp edges on their lids sit ajar and ready for someone to be thrown in, the force of the throw enough to jar the lid shut and slice the unfortunately throwee in half.

I'm not going to cop out and say that this game isn't all about killing. That is what it's all about. You kill for more points. Higher combos, as in more hits landed or extra items slapped on/skewered into your opponent before killing him results in a higher point gain. A higher score means something else in the level becomes unlocked. This game rewards you for being as sadistic as possible, granting you health power ups or special weapons. Get a high enough score and it's on to the boss fight.

There's more to boss battles than dodging and occasionally mashing buttons. Each one has a different pattern, necessary strategy and feel. They're not only challenging, but exciting and even, at times, cinematic. One boss fight pits Jack against a wanna-be vampire/succubus chick named Elise. Bandy Leggz's “You Don't Know Me” blares while Jack attempts to hack up a goth girl decked out in scant leather with more than ample breasts. Get her in just the right position and the screen will prompt you to move the Wiimote in a certain way, usually slashing it horizontally or vertically. This enacts a cinematic struggle between Jack and Elise. The two lock horns and she pushes Jack's arms apart, forcing herself forward and her bouncing breasts into Jack's face. He can only gawk, slack-jawed, cigarette dangling from his mouth. She holds him in thrall and opens her mouth, exposing her large fangs and readying to sink them into Jack's jugular. This isn't the kind of suck Jack was hoping for. He overcomes the seduction, countering lust with a well-placed head-butt and a swipe of his chainsaw.

Unlike other cinematic games, you aren't just sitting there watching this happen. The game enacts Shenmue-style prompts like moving the Wiimote sideways or shaking the control and nunchuck frantically to respond to situations. The further into the game you get, the less response time you're given. It makes the boss battles that much more memorable.

Mindless hacking would get old without some variety. Jack's points can also be used to activate Bloodbath Challenges which break any possible monotony by giving him psychotic mini-games with even more violence. However, these aren't of the mindless variety. These games take skill, timing, opportunism, and a tiny bit of thought and reaction. One game asks Jack to shake bottles of soda up and shove them into a men's mouths. He can then throw them, using the bottle of soda as a jet to propel his victims, at randomly placed targets worth varying points. Another sticks Jack in a group of stone cold killers and a giant hand that reaches down and snatches up helpless victims that come within range of its grasp. The hand crushes any it snatches up, juicing them like oranges. Jack springs into action by throwing as many victims as he can within the hand's reach, or even directly into its palm, and watches as they're all mashed into man paste. These can be the best parts of some levels, and the sense of dark creativity behind them leaves you wanting to hack away some more so you can discover what other challenges the developers have cooked up.

Buckets of blood produce the only color used in this game set in black and white, like a tribute to Frank Miller and the myriad other graphic novelists who made said style famous. The game tips the hat to many others, with a splash of John Carpenter and even a head nod to Roger Corman. It feels like Escape from New York set in Sin City with Death Race 2000's plot elements. Throw in comical commentary from voice actors Greg Proops (“Whose Line is it Anyway?”) and John DiMaggio (Bender of “Futurama”), as well as deadly horrorcore tracks (and thankfully none of the Psychopathic Records alumni) and the game's seedy and sadistic, yet stylistic atmosphere is complete and thick enough to cut with a chainsaw.

MadWorld blends tasteful and dark storytelling with horrific violence and dark comedy to make an exciting, fast-paced game. The only true flaw is the repetition of task. One may be able to lose himself in the senseless yet addictive killing, but there is a limit to which the same story over and over again can wear thin. The game included memorable boss battles, blood-soaked mini-games for variety, and a decent challenge that very far outweighs such a small flaw. Next time someone tells you that Wii is for babies and little kids, point them in the direction of this game. I wouldn't let my kids within thirty feet of it. It's grisly, but it's so damn fun!

Rating: 8/10

JoeTheDestroyer's avatar
Community review by JoeTheDestroyer (December 08, 2010)

Rumor has it that Joe is not actually a man, but a machine that likes video games, horror movies, and long walks on the beach. His/Its first contribution to HonestGamers was a review of Breath of Fire III.

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