In searching for the right words for a synopsis for a game such as Madworld, I couldn’t help but stumble across a perfect one written for another review and, since I can’t possibly write a better one, I decided to quote it here instead.
The Black Baron. In MadWorld, this purveyor of carnal pleasures provokes your violent tendencies time and again. After his recurring obscene tirades, a sultry gal clad in leather gear offers a visual example of the violent challenge ahead by lopping his head off with a golf club, or impaling him on a bed of spikes. She then strikes a sexy pose and slinks away, only to return when the resilient Baron has somehow recovered and again arrives with even more foul-mouthed taunts. This scenario is the essence of MadWorld: brutal, irreverent, and often hysterical. It’s an overload of the senses that wallows in both its tastelessness and its striking black-and-white visual design. More importantly, this third-person action game is fun to play, though a number of gameplay frustrations hold it back from greatness. Nevertheless, MadWorld provides an adrenaline rush, with all the sensory delights and distresses that such excesses entail.
The basic premise of Madworld is simple: kill as many people as possible and kill them as creatively as possible to score extra points. The main character Jack is stuck in a closed-off city full of bloodthirsty madmen all participating in a game of murder called DeathWatch. The only way to win is to be the sole survivor, and Jack is no loser. With the use of Jack’s fists, a mechanical arm complete with retractable chainsaw, and a plethora of environmental weapons and objects of destruction, the player must hack and slash their way until they are the last man standing.
The first thing anybody notices upon gazing at a screenshot or a video of SEGA’s Madworld is (apart from “holy crap look at that violence!”) is the extremely stylized graphics. Madworld is created completely in black and white; all characters, all environmental assets, the skyline, everything. The blood, which runneth over in Varrigan City , however, is dark red to provide a strong contrast to the otherwise monotone environment. The text sometimes appears in bright yellow to further stand out from the rest of the game, making these two major aspects of the game clear and crisp. To further the feeling of playing within a comic book world, text begins to fly when enemies get pounded, sliced and diced much like in the old Adam West Batman TV series. Cutscenes are artfully executed, making use of comic panels and still images to provide a comic-like experience unlike any I’ve seen in a game since Ultimate Spiderman.
The music in Madworld is really top notch; one of the best OST’s I’ve ever heard in a videogame. Not only does the pounding hip-hop music complement the fast paced and badass gameplay, it doesn’t take away from the experience and overshadow the action like a heavy metal or death metal soundtrack very well could have; it stays subtle enough that it hangs in the back and provides a rhythm to the mayhem, while at the same time still being in-your-face and awesome. Below is the song played in the background of the final battle to provide a taste of this great soundtrack.
The controls of Madworld center around the use of the Wii remote and the nunchuck and, despite past failures, for once someone got the use of the controllers right. The game does not feel like a waggle fest, but instead makes the player feel like they have some form of control over Jack and his chainsaw. Though it usually boils down to a vertical or a horizontal strike, it doesn’t matter because when you think about it, you don’t need more than that. For the rest, the controls are pretty standard but again feel good. The other notable thing is the use of quick time events, which have been implemented especially well. Sometimes the player is prompted to throw out a flurry of punches by shaking the two controllers like a madman, and others prompt you to spin a baddie around before throwing him into a burning garbage can.
Amidst the masses of never-ending waves of enemies in Varrigan City, at the end of each level Jack encounters a big boss enemy who has a significantly greater DeathWatch rating than he. These bosses are somtimes much larger than Jack, providing an interesting, to say the least, experience that differes from the usual Madworld gameplay. These enemies have a range of powerful attacks and some very interesting cutscenes and quick time events. The boss battles can be both the most fun parts of the game and the most frustrating at times. What these boss battles boil down to is proper timing and execution of the quick time events, however, which usually end in an extremely brutal and ever-so-satisfying cutscene showing how Jack disposes of the boss in a creative and usually humerous fashion.
The credits are just… well… there’s no point in explaining how great they are. Just watch them and see for yourself. Best credits for anything ever in the history of forever. The announcers do a fantastic job throughout the game and provide an extremely humerous tone to otherwise seemingly serious and violent gameplay.
The game is just too short.With roughly six hours of gameplay when playing from start to finish, Madworld definitely leaves players wanting more. The only reason the length of the title is a bad thing is because the game itself is so good that you can’t help but want more from it. There is replay value as new weapons are unlocked when the game has been played through once, as well as the temptation to beat up some more baddies and discover new ways to kick some ass. The fact that the game has multiplayer could have been a way to extend the game’s life, but unfortunately it is just replaying some of the bloodbath challenges from the singleplayer mode which, it turns out, aren’t any more fun or exciting with a second player thrown into the mix.
Despite the graphics of Madworld being so wonderfully executed, the excess of black and white and the lack of color and shading really makes the game difficult to read from time to time. Jack himself is overly black to provide some form of contrast against the environment, but one can’t help but to lose track of things when every object in the game is colored inblack and white. Another small in game problem is that the camera isn’t the best, and sometimes makes it difficult to look in the direction you want to be looking, and even the locking system doesn’t always prove to be the best it could be. Sometimes amongst the cluttered level and the lack of color all bleeding together, a bad camera just pushes it too far and it becomes somewhat frustrating to move around the environment. Once you get the hang of it it no longer becomes a huge deal, but a camera is something a player shouldn’t have to get used to, but something a player shouldn’t even realize is there.
The gameplay and controls, though properly executed, get repetitive after a while. Jack doesn’t really get any upgrades or learn any new moves along the way, so what you have from the beginning is pretty much what you get for the entire game. This is broken up of course by a plethora of weapons and objects in the environment to smash over enemies or smash enemies into. Even with a lot of environmental objects and unlockable weapons, the core of the game quickly becomes repetitive and you find yourself doing the same combos over and over. I think the only reason that this game’s repetitiveness did not make me want to stop playing was just the fact that even though I was doing the same moves, the in game feedback was so awesome that you no longet care; you just want to continue. One other thing the developers added to break up the repetitiveness were some motorcycle sections where Jack is always riding in a straight line and has the choice of either attacking on his left or his right, so that he can bash enemies off of their vehicles and onto the asphalt. Though at first it looks awesome to see Jack riring on a hog with chainsaw in (or rather, built-in) hand, it quickly becomes tedious and boring, and you begin to long for a normal level again. The motorcycle sections seem like a good idea, but need some rethinking before they will actually become fun.
Madworld, by far is one of the best games I’ve played in a long while, and definitely in the top 5 of all games out on the Wii at the moment. A definite buy. Luckily I got it on discount for 10 euros, but if I had the money I’d be more than happy to pay 50 euros for the title, despite its length. Madworld 2 has been speculated and I personally would love to see it happen, and it would be a day one purchase for me.