MadWorld Review for Nintendo Wii

MadWorld Review for Nintendo Wii

I haven’t laughed this hard with a video game since I doled out my first teabag. MadWorld is an irreverent, outlandishly gory beat-‘em-up that’s pummeled the dust right off my Wii. PlatinumGames has done an exquisite job in creating this title – they truly have played to the Wii’s strengths without getting suckered in by the platform’s gimmicky foibles.

MadWorld screenshot

Striking the perfect balance between standard and motion controls was the developer’s first stroke of genius, the risky choice to employ black and white visuals paid off in spades, and the tongue-in-cheek, dark humor mixes expertly with the visceral nature of the gameplay. Top it all off with an amazing soundtrack and side-splitting voice over work, and adult Wii owners have finally been given a title they can sink their teeth into after the kids have gone to bed.

Drawing from such source material as Sin City and Running Man, MadWorld takes players through a dark, graphic novel-like setting where anything goes. Varrigan City – an island-based megalopolis obviously fashioned after New York City – has been met with a horrible disaster. The entire city has been cut off from the rest of the world due to a horrible outbreak, and it has subsequently been overrun by a terrorist organization hosting a sadistic event known only as The DeathWatch Games. This perverted game show pits neighbor against neighbor in a fight for survival. To make matters worse, murderous thugs called Killseekers have come to the city in an attempt to rise through The DeathWatch ranks and claim the ultimate jackpot.

After three days of absolute horror, the city has fallen into utter chaos when, seemingly out of nowhere, a new contestant named Jack Cayman (just Jack to you and me) shows up with a chainsaw appendage and a pair of goggles that can’t quite hide his massive unibrow. Jack instantly asserts his authority and demonstrates his prowess by literally tearing the competition apart! This simple, outlandish premise is the basis for the events that transpire in MadWorld – the game never takes itself too seriously or apologizes for its fantastical approach. However, players will be met with a surprisingly involved narrative that becomes more engaging as they advance through the diverse sections of the city.

MadWorld screenshot

MadWorld is not just your standard beat-’em-up. For starters, the game is one of the most graphic titles around. Blood spurts out of cavernous wounds like a fountain at a Vegas casino. Nevertheless, MadWorld doesn’t just rely on copious amounts of blood and cheap tricks for amusement. Players will have fun throughout the game by building upon their combat skill set, employing devastating finishing moves, using environmental objects to enhance their kills, and challenging outrageous area bosses – ranked competitors with an attitude!

MadWorld does a great job of keeping players engaged in the killing spree by throwing bigger and better baddies at them, changing up the environments, rewarding them with various weapons, multiplying their scores with more complex kills, giving them a rank as if it were a real sport, and plugging hilariously brutal mini-games into the formula. The devs even went so far as to add motorbike areas to give players a Road Rash-like experience in order to break up standard combat. When players have accrued enough points in a certain area, they will then be able to initiate the boss sequence. These boss battles are both challenging and vicious, and players will be thrilled to see their rank as a competitor in The DeathWatch Games increase with every victory.

MadWorld screenshot

True to beat-’em-up form, MadWorld places an emphasis on scoring and survival. Players will have to try and accrue as many points as they can by perfecting their combat ability and giving the fictional fans a real show with shocking kills. For example, simply cutting someone in half with your chainsaw is just routine violence. If you really want to rack up the points and put on a show, you’ll have to throw a tire on your victim, stab him in the head with a couple signposts, give him a swirly, and shove them in a flaming barrel or bash them against massive wall spikes (appropriately called rosebushes) four or five times. Of course, if you want a change of pace, you could just slam your foe on a spike, through his butt and out the top of his head. To call this game brutal is an understatement, and it’s scary just how funny and satisfying it all is. At the end of each zone, players will be able to see their score results and how many kills they amassed as well as the level of quality each slaying had. Getting through each section with a better score than the last time is a good challenge and one that will keep gamers playing this title over and over again.

Dealing out extreme carnage isn’t the only important part of the game, though. Players will have to survive if they want to keep their score tallying. In normal mode, players will start the game with one life and two “continues” – essentially three lives (in hard mode, you’ll struggle with just one measly life!). If you run out of “continues,” you won’t have to start the game over, but you will start with a big fat goose egg for points. Luckily, health-drops in the form of Happy Onions and Happy Pills along with extra continues called Jack Balloons are prevalent. This formula works great for a modern beat-’em-up, as it tests your skills but allows you to advance the storyline without getting bogged down, and the amped-up difficulty in hard mode will really test your skill on the second playthrough.

The controls in MadWorld are almost perfectly implemented. The game uses a standard Wii Remote and Nunchuk setup. Combat moves are initiated via the Wii-mote, while movement and camera controls are left to the Nunchuk. What sets MadWorld controls apart from other Wii titles out there is just how well they work. Moreover, simple waggle and button combinations along with more complex, prompted motion commands feel satisfying, engaging, and forgiving. It really is the perfect mix of standard and motion-sensitive controls!

MadWorld screenshot

Graciously, movement and adjusting camera angles via the Nunchuk are just as reliable. Players can easily dodge and flip out of danger with quick gestures, and re-centering and locking onto enemies is a breeze. I especially liked the lock-on function, because players simply have to briefly hold the C button and then they can release it, freeing up the index finger to perform other moves, jumps, etc. If you want to end the lock-on, just depress the C button a second time when you’re ready to roam. The only real control issue I found was it was often difficult to pick objects up off the ground during combat. That’s because environmental weapons are lifted by holding the A button, which is also used for grappling your enemies. As a result, it can be a bit cumbersome when you’ve got a lot of guys around you.

The game’s visual and audio presentation really brought everything together. Before popping in the disk, I was a bit worried about the all black and white graphics. As it turns out, this risky move was just what was needed to set the tone. The contrast between the colorless world and the crimson splatters really accentuated the bloodbath. What’s more, the game is full of excellent character design and an incredible amount of detail. The title really looks like a well-drawn comic. In fact, this is one of the very best-looking Wii titles thus far, if not the best.

Likewise, the audio in MadWorld is ballsy and crude but utterly awesome. The commentator duo portrayed by Greg Proops and John DiMaggio is a thing of genius. First of all, the writing is belly laugh funny, the gruff and boisterous character of their voices is perfect for the game, and their delivery is so good you could swear they did this on a weekly basis. The banter that goes back and forth between the two is full of F-sharps, incredibly lewd, and perfectly timed to Jack’s actions. There is a good deal of repetition, but there is enough new material as you advance that it never seems to be bothersome. Also, the hip hop and instrumental soundtrack is not only fitting, it is pretty darn tight! One could easily turn down the sound effects and commentary just to listen to the sweet beats and solid raps. The only downside to the sounds is that they tend to clash with each other if all are left at 10 (the default setting). I found I needed to adjust the sound effects, music, and commentary constantly in order to suit my mood. Thankfully, this can be done at any time with just a couple of button presses.

MadWorld is a surprisingly excellent game that is bound to piss off a lot of people. However, it’s refreshing for adult gamers to have access to such interesting and mature (immature?) fare on Nintendo’s console. The single-player game is loads of fun and is guaranteed to have you laughing hysterically. Unfortunately, the two-player split-screen action is only good for playing through the mini-game BloodBath Challenges – online co-op and competitive bouts would have been great. Still, I dare anyone to find more entertainment in a game, even if the experience only lasts a handful of hours.

The daring, stylized visuals are some of the best to be seen on Wii. 4.8 Control
The developers were able to strike the perfect balance between standard and motion-sensitive controls. 5.0 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The music is quite solid, and the voice acting is the funniest, most irreverent I’ve ever heard. 4.2

Play Value
There’s not a whole lot of content, and the multiplayer options are kind of weak. Still, what’s there is some of the best gaming around, and the added difficulty and score tallies should keep players busy.

4.5 Overall Rating – Must Buy
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • Highly-Stylized Graphics: Black and white graphics based on comic books and graphic novels deliver a stunning and unique looking game.
  • Exciting, Visceral Gameplay: Fast and instinctive arcade-style gameplay with brutal finishing moves delivered by the Wii Remote and Nunchuk.
  • Over-the-top Violence and Irreverent Content: Exaggerated characters, murderous moves, monstrous bosses, and outrageous commentary add to the irreverent and humorous tone.
  • Multiplayer Mini-games: Compete in a variety of ultra-violent party-games that can be played hot-seat against friends.
  • Screen Resolution: Up to 480p (Progressive Scan).

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