I find it incredibly interesting that Nintendo and Sega, two developers that have been widely considered “Family Friendly” what with their tubby plumbers and wide-eyed woodland creatures have teamed up to make a game that is exactly what Grand Theft Auto is generally accused of being, a game where you get rewarded for slaughter.
However unlike GTA it’s done incredibly well.
In the game you assume the role of Jack, a mechanic and Marine who is dropped into a city where the residents have been forced to kill each other for a television show called “Death Watch” As Jack you must traverse the different parts of the city, each with their own theme, the objective of each level is to kill enough nameless baddies to rack up a score high enough to unlock the level boss and then kill him. Which on paper doesn’t sound very good as it could seemingly get very repetitive very quickly, however there are many things around to keep it interesting.
Firstly with the kill score. One could just go through beating people to death, but that won’t get you a very high score. You need to be creative with the kills, and there are plenty of weapons and stage-specific kills to keep it interesting. As well as little side objectives. (collecting objects, rescuing a certain number of captive characters, etc.)
Another thing that breaks up the repetitiveness is, after reaching a certain score, you can participate in a level-specific mini game, called the Bloodbath Challenge that usually involves using a kill technique you’ve learned in the first half of the level building up to the Bloodbath Challenge. For example in the first stage, as you haven’t done much with special weaponry yet, your challenge is to throw as many baddies as you can into a giant turbine before time runs out. You also need to be careful not to get sucked in yourself. My favorite BBC I’ve played so far has to be where you pin down baddies with your foot and use a golf club to knock their heads through floating targets.
The game also gives you a series of finishing moves you can use if you’ve knocked a villain out but haven’t yet killed him. When the promp “FINISH” pops up, you hit A or B and it triggers a quicktime event that requires you swing the Wiimote or Nunchuck in the manner it tells you. The problem is that the Wiimotes motion sensitivity is so non-specific that as long as you make an effort to move the thing at all, it’ll more than likely give you the credit.
The excessive violence is only accentuated by the Sin City-esqe, straight black and white with smatterings of color visual style. Along with the angry hip-hop soundtrack and the hilarious, profanity laden, sports commentary done by John DiMaggio and Greg Proops.
Now I’m not clamoring for my “Top 10 Games of All Time” list to add MadWorld to it. It’s a fun little beat-em-up, but the game is not without it’s little issues that keep it from being perfect.For example, you have to hit A and B to do random beatings but those same buttons trigger the finishing maneuvers. This means that sometimes when you mean to punch the guy, pick him up or use your chainsaw, you trigger the finishing move, which can be sometimes frustrating when your plan for dispatching the baddie go awry. Also the black and white visual style is set to everything, meaning that a lot of the time the baddies, bosses, collectable objects and weapons get lost in the background as it all looks the same. On my initial outing with the game, along with Matt and Phisch, we spent a lot of the time pointing objects and baddies out that the person playing just couldn’t see.
However with these criticisms the game gains extra points for being an original title. The idea itself isn’t original by any stretch, beat-em-ups have been done since the 8-bit era. But it would have been very easy to slap some kind of established gimmick to it and make it yet another rehashed sequel. And in an age where we are slapped in the face from all angles with sequels and adaptations, to see an original title is refreshing, at the very least. When the movie “Cloverfield” came out, it was nothing overly original. We had seen first-person camera work before. We had seen giant monsters before. And while it had it’s flaws, it was attempting to give us something at least original in title. And I enjoyed it for that fact. The same goes for “MadWorld.” It’s also the first 3rd party Wii game that I’ve played that actually uses the Wiimotes motion controls well. Most 3rd party developers try to downgrade their X-Box 360 game’s graphics and haphazardly toss in some motion controls trying in vain to make it feel like it actually belongs on the Wii. But “MadWorld” uses the motion controls very well, and it’s about time.
A Wii game made for the Wii, what a concept.
Now if you’re looking for some deep and involved story and characters, then pass on this game because you won’t get that. The game’s story is only there to give some kind of context to the carnage. It feels like they cared more about making a game that’s fun to play over running from one cut-scene to another. And I honestly wish more developers would focus more on game than story. Story is great to have but it’s all for naught if the game plays poorly.
If you’re looking for an entertaining game that you can jump right into and start hurling bodies around, I couldn’t recommend it more.