The second game in Sega’s list of Wii-exclusive lineup in the well-publicized MadWorld. This slick Sin City inspired beat-em-up quickly gets down to business and although it delivers a lot on the side of action, some might feel a bit under-whelmed by the final outcome.
As you take the role of Jack, a for-hire hellraiser in the midst of a publicly broadcast bloodsport, your first and only real object is to rack up points by disposing of the other random contestants around you in increasingly brutal fashion. Of course you can beat them down until they no longer possess the ability to walk, but why not instead wrap a tire around them and repeatedly introduce their ass to a wall of spikes? Now we’re talking. The more combinations of pain you manage to inflict before your victim succumbs is the key highlight in MadWorld and although it is a lot of fun, the novelty wears off much faster than one might hope. The variety and ease of control definitely means MadWorld is something you will enjoy right out of the box and there does appear to be quite a bit of unlockable and/or achievable content as you progress, but it all wears a little too thin a little too fast. Each level does offer new mini games and alternate methods of disposing your competition, but it feels like there is a core of scenarios that become repetitious. Maybe you want to slam this guy face-first into a spiked wall instead of backwards. Or perhaps inserting a signpost through their crotch would scratch an itch that twenty signposts through the head simply cannot.
Boss encounters and mini-games augment each level as you continue to rack up points. These are all quite fun, over-the-top, and well thought out and really highlight the game design aspect of MadWorld beyond running around without any remorse for human life. In fact, they tend to provide the most variety you could hope for throughout most of the story.
This is a title that deserves praise for its simple, yet satisfying control scheme that actually understands how to implement the Wii remote’s unique abilities. Using both the nunchuck and remote will move Jack around as you might expect. The combat controls resemble that of the popular THQ’ WWF/WWE wrestling titles that originated on the Nintendo 64. Pressing B madly will make Jack unleash a fury of fists, where as pressing A will make you grab/grapple an opponent and be able to cart them around and/or dispose of them as you like. The attacks at Jacks disposal often depend on the environment and/or where you are in relation to your opponent, so trying a variety of grapples and drags is rewarding and fun.
In addition to those basics are the highlight of MadWorld’s control scheme, which incorporates motion controls for throwing, breaking, picking up and a variety of other maneuvers. Some of these are directed (ie. to break someone’s back, you’ll be instructed to gesture the remote downward at the appropriate time) while others are completely free form such as throwing opponents or administering brutal uppercuts. All of these elements combine perfectly for a very sleek and natural control scheme that ensures you’ll spend more time dishing out pain and less trying to recall a particular button.
Replay Value: 7/10
MadWorld does come with a host of unlockables that encourage you to complete the story mode and replay the game, but at face value the most fun you’ll get is from picking a random level and simply bashing the hell out of unfortunate folks until you’ve had your fill. Hey, it worked for TMNT, it can work here. The replay value is hurt a bit by the repetitive attack options as mentioned above, but its not enough to prevent you from venting a days frustration on those less fortunate than you.
MadWorld obviously gets style points for art direction, especially considering the amount of detail included in the game and environments despite the lack of color. This does help the blood pop, and eases the violence into a more cartoon-ish category, but at times the black and white display does make things difficult to see. Couple that with a shaky camera and there will be moments of frustration when you’re surrounded by baddies.
The one point that simply needs to be highlighted here is Sega’s unforgivable choice for Jack’s idle animation. While you remain standing in-game you’ll notice Jack start to wiggle and waggle like some amateur male stripper. For someone who barely lifts a finger unless it involves killing something or smoking a cigarette this is just the worst clash in game design since Mario 2. It was laughable at first, but then just became sad. This shouldn't be a big deal, especially in the grand scheme of things, but I think it deserves a full point off the total review score. Sega, please hire me to replace whomever was responsible for this atrocity.
The soundtrack of MadWorld is well thought out and contains several popular tracks from rap to heavy metal that compliment the game’s “badass” attitude. That said, you won’t find anything memorable or unique about the music aside from the brain-bashing bass. Hence why no more time will be spent reviewing it.
Vocals and audio play a good role in MadWorld. From the bone-crushing effects to the constant jabs between the two DeathWatch bloodsport announcers, there are definitely several moments that will catch you off-guard as you tally up your body counts. They banter ranges from crud to just plain funny and is very well integrated into the atmosphere of MadWorld. The only complaint is that some of the character reactions are used far too frequently. “I’m gonna get you M-F-er!” is only so meaningful the nineteenth time around…especially when its being uttered by a guy with a signpost through his jaw…
MadWorld is definitely a unique title and is more than likely qualified to be on any Wii owners shelf as long as you are over the age of 17. It’s a fun and grueling experience that is truly satisfying, albeit flatter than many had hoped. The room for improvement will hopefully be taken positively and perhaps we will be lucky enough to see a sequel that capitalizes on a few of the shortcomings in the current gameplay formula. Still, hats off to Sega for raising the bar and feeding the blood-thirsty professionals that ARE still interested in quality games for Nintendo’s current platform.