Nintendo’s little white cash cow has been called many things since its inception. Until recently, “hardcore violence machine” wasn’t exactly the first thing to come to mind when pondering the Wii’s illustrious career. The release of MadWorld has effectively raised the bar for what is and what isn’t acceptable for the Wii’s self-imposed casual following. With stylish and morbid execution, it’s provided the adrenaline rush most wouldn’t expect. It’s effectively injected a bit of fear into the stereotypical family dynamic. Why? It’s just as violent as all the stories you’ve heard proclaim, and you know what? I couldn’t be any happier with it.
Has the game’s release left you mortified? Shocked and appalled? Looking to point the finger at someone? Blame Sega and developer Platinum Games, Inc., (formerly Seeds, Inc. and Clover Studios) best known for independent classics like Okami and God Hand, for birthing this ravenous new creature.
For those open-minded folks out there who can see past the social stigma attached to what could be the bloodiest game ever created, MadWorld offers a stunning new way to look at your garden-variety brawler. From the first time I witnessed the seemingly endless array of bone-wrenching moves to my first attempt at reducing a fellow human being to a bloody stain on the pavement of the monochromatic city, I was in awe.
Varrigan City, a fictional location, has been taken over by a band of sadistic terrorists known simply as The Organizers. Rather than simply infiltrating the city and robbing the citizens of their valuables, lives, or even dignity, the Organizers have taken the liberty of transforming the city into an enormous stage for a reality show. Known simply as “Death Watch,” challengers are forced into some of the most inhumane battles ever to be devised. Their prize for the most brutal victory? 100 million dollars – and their lives. Stepping into the shoes of Varrigan resident Jack Cayman allows you to participate in the gore-tastic Death Watch challenges being held for yourself. Don’t fool yourself into thinking the plot is so transparent, however – as the game marches on you’ll find a bevy of entertaining plot twists that will practically plead with you to keep moving forward with the narrative.
At its core, MadWorld is less about plotline and all about the killing, which comes in an abundance throughout your rampage. There is only one goal within this game and that is to kill as many living things as possible before a timer runs out. Creativity is certainly encouraged here and you’ll be judged on how sadistic you are when you’re violently executing enemies. Some especially excessive atrocities include grinding opponents in half with a chainsaw, shoving signposts through skulls, or simply engaging in a game of human “darts.” Each stage is jam-packed with various tools and plenty of hazards that keep the grisly display of dismemberment in steady supply. Players are consistently rewarded for thinking outside of the murderous box in this horrific playground.
To complement the rampant thirst for blood depicted in the game, a competent control scheme maintains that you’re having a good time without contemplating tossing the Wii remote through your television screen. Though it does employ a suitable combination of button-mashing and the Wii’s motion capabilities, MadWorld does fall prey to the “waggle” theory. Real variety of motions that can be performed is not displayed here, as you will take note of fairly early, flailing the remote and Nunchuk as much as possible will get the job done quicker than performing actual commands. Some actions require some swiping or 360 degree maneuvers, but overall there isn’t much to it. Still, considering MadWorld‘s premise and subject matter, the lack of sophistication does not, exactly, a glaring flaw make. The only real conceivable downfall to an otherwise intuitive control scheme is the lack of proper camera control and lock-on when it’s so desperately needed.
The gratuitous and over-the-top violence is fantastic, but the comic-book motif is definitely something that must be seen to be believed. The colorless aesthetic is quite impressive; assuming an artistic identity like no other. It’s a simplistic style but truly original nonetheless, with graphic contrasts even more pleasing to the eye as pools of blood drench the otherwise sterile scenes. The unmistakable overtones would probably make Sin City creator Frank Miller quite proud, as it’s quite obvious Miller’s work is where MadWorld has drawn much of its inspiration.
Though Varrigan City may be presented drained of all color, the game’s rainbow of talented voice actors provide adequate compensation. Steven Blum, Greg Proops, and John DiMaggio keep the action absurdly comedic and are more than happy to vibrantly curse, insult, and harass, Along with truly blood-curdling cries set against the backdrop of a decidedly hip-hop flavored soundtrack, the commentary is anything but forgettable.
With MadWorld, what you see is entirely what you get: violent, sadistic, stylish, and insanely gory fun. There’s hardly anything here to persuade me this game is anything other than a fantastic title. This is one game that knows exactly what it is and thankfully remains unapologetic in its execution. I only wish the creative over-the-top carnage lasted longer. Calling this game graphic would be an understatement, but who really cares when the game offers up such a unique experience? It might be a bad idea to pull out a cliché here, but you can absolutely judge this book by its cover. The simulated violence may be gruesome and gory, but its so over-the-top and ridiculous that you can’t even begin to take it seriously. For this, naysayers should keep in mind that it’s all in good fun. Now get out there, and get to crushing some skulls!