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PlatinumGames is known for some excellent titles. Vanquish, Bayonetta, and Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance just to name a few. But their first game was MadWorld. Released exclusively for the Nintendo Wii in 2009, MadWorld is an over-the-top and extremely violent hack and slash. With a unique art style and ridiculous violence, MadWorld definitely stands out among the Wii library of games. But is it as good as the rest of the developer’s well-known titles? Let’s take a look.
MadWorld takes place in the fictional Varrigan City. Some group of terrorists cut off the city from the rest of the world and released a virus that would kill the inhabitants in less than twenty four hours. Only if the citizens kill each other will they receive a vaccine. Because of all the chaos the city turned into the location for the infamous game show DeathWatch. You play as Jack and he’s quickly sponsored by Agent XIII to compete in DeathWatch fighting his way through the ranks to become champion. Using Jack’s fists, the chainsaw attached to his arm, and a bunch of weapons, the goal is to move from area to area killing enemies in gruesome and extremely violent ways.
Each area is a different location throughout the city and you have thirty minutes to achieve the score needed to fight the area’s boss. I think the time limit mechanic sucks but after realizing it’s not hard to achieve the target score within the limit, I didn’t think too much of it. I just hate being timed. Beat the boss and you move on. Simple concept, really. You’re scored for killing enemies and the more gruesome and creative the kill, the more points you earn. Achieving a specific amount of points will unlock Bloodbath Challenges which are these hilarious and fun mini games where you need to kill a number of enemies in specific ways. One challenge has you using a golf club to hit zombie’s heads through rings for points and another has you throwing enemies into a jet engine. It’s insane. The Bloodbath Challenges are introduced by a character known as the Black Baron and he’s got some pretty funny lines and he always ends up getting killed by his assistant. He’s like a vulgar cartoon character. With that said, the voice acting during the gameplay is truly hilarious. As you play there are announcers commenting on what’s going on and they’ll often banter and insult each other and just say some ludicrous shit. John DiMaggio and Greg Proops provide the voices for the announcers and really do an excellent job.
The areas themselves are complete with hazards like spinning blades, spikes, and other death traps to assist you in causing the ultimate carnage. You can pick up most objects on the ground and hurl them at enemies. Cramming a dude inside a barrel and then shoving a sign post through his head is just one of many ways to kill your foes. There are two areas that have Jack riding his motorcycle and killing enemies at high speeds. You would think this sounds awesome but they kind of suck. There’s only a few attacks you can pull off and and it just becomes boring after only a few minutes. These sequences don’t feel as well developed as the on-foot areas and lack any kind of challenge.
The areas have these mayhem dispensers that will dispense different weapons including a spiked bat, daggers, spear, golf club, torch, and the magnet gun. They’re pretty self explanatory with the magnet gun being the most unique. This thing can suck up several enemies and if you’re smart you would launch them into a death trap. It’s just a shame you don’t get to use it often. The weapons can only be used for a limited time and will eventually break. You can always switch back to your chainsaw as well, saving the other weapon for later. Jack starts each area with two lives and if you lose all your lives, you have to start the area over. Picking up health pills restore a portion of Jack’s health and onions restore all of his health. But you want to look out for Jack Balloons as they grant extra lives. Even if you obtain extra lives they don’t carry over into the next area which kind of sucks.
The boss battles themselves can be challenging but never get infuriating. They all have their own attacks and patterns that can be memorized. You’ll fight some vampire chick with big boobs and even a Frankenstein-looking dude. They’re all pretty unique for the most part. The boss battles always consist of what the game calls a Power Struggle which just means quick-time events using motion controls. They’re not really hard to pull off and will result in serious damage if you’re successful. If you fail, you take damage.
Each area contains a different variety of enemies. You start off against basic thug-like looking enemies that don’t pose much of threat but as the game progresses the enemies become more aggressive. Frequently you’ll encounter bigger brutish enemies that take more than a few punches and slices to kill. The driller enemy in particular takes way too long to kill with basic attacks. After a while they drill into the ground only to reappear later so I found that using the environmental death traps is the best way to combat them. Other than that you’ve got zombies, ninjas, and even aliens.
As fun as the game is, it can be a bitch to control. First of all the camera is horrendous. It never really stays behind Jack and I would always end up taking damage from attacks I couldn’t see coming. There is a lock-on mechanic but it’s useless since most of the time Jack would never actually face the enemy causing my attacks to miss. I don’t really know if I can blame the game for the controls because I really think it’s the limitations of the motion controls. You move Jack around using the stick on the Nunchuck but you have no real control over the camera other than pressing the “C” button to reset it. You’ll frequently have to shake the Nunchuck and/or Wii Remote to perform attacks and of course you’ll be swinging them around to avoid attacks and perform quick-time events. It becomes tiring. Attacking involves pressing “A” to punch and swinging the Wii Remote around for more brutal strikes. The motion controls can work well but frequently I would perform the wrong attack or my swing wouldn’t register causing me to take damage or even die. And that’s probably the most frustrating thing about this game. One area in particular has this Grim Reaper wannabe enemy type and if he manages to land a hit on you with his scythe, it’s an instant death. With the spotty motion controls, I died frequently when facing this guy. Yeah, it’s bullshit. Another problem with the controls is the backflip. Backflipping is essentially dodging and it’s you’re only real defense. The problem is you can only do a backflip. So if you wanted to dodge an attack and then counter with a strike, constantly moving backwards can make that difficult. Jack can do this lunge attack after flipping but I never seemed to land the attack. So combine the shitty camera with the backflipping and I was frequently flipping into other enemies or hazards.
In my opinion, the music here just sucks. It’s got a soundtrack full of rap or hip-hop, whatever people are calling it. It’s just not for me. I quickly turned it off and in doing so it really exposes how lacking the sound effects are, specifically during the cutscenes. It shows off the frequent and sometimes long silence between dialogue only for me to remember I turned the music off. It’s the visual style that makes the game stand out. The game is black and white with the exception of blood and other minor things and the entire game is presented in a pretty cool comic book style. The visuals also cause a problem during gameplay. Due to the lack of color it can sometimes be hard to make things out, including enemies, or even where you are. Luckily there’s a mini map to help guide you. The game will take a frame-rate hit if things get extremely hectic which can happen frequently in the later areas. Other than that, I encountered no real issues or bugs.
MadWorld is a game that strives on being violent and vulgar. But the gameplay is actually quite fun and it’s cool to explore the areas discovering new and interesting ways to kill your enemies. If it wasn’t for the motion controls I think the gameplay would be even better and it’s kind of a shame that it was never given Classic Controller support. It would definitely be more comfortable, that’s for sure. MadWorld has it’s problems but it’s still a fun game and even has some great replay value. It’s a title Wii owners should definitely check out.