Review: [Insert vulgar play-by-play comment from John Di Maggio here]
If anyone ever tries to convince you that the Wii's lineup of games is full of fluffy clouds, cute animals and big pink lollipops, please steer their Wiimote towards Sega's MadWorld
. On second thought, don't. Because MadWorld is perhaps the most vulgar video game to ever grace any console, let alone the Wii. It takes the phrase "mature themes" and bends it and twists it until it screams the safe word. And yet, the game feels completely at home on Nintendo's "console for everybody."
You've seen the story of MadWorld many times before. Like many of Platinum Games (nee Clover Studios) previous games, MadWorld mines and matches elements from a variety of movies, TV Shows and comics. Taking place sometime in the not-too-distant future, MadWorld places players in the shoes of Jack, a new player in the "Death Watch", a bloodsport very similar to The Running Man
. And like John Carpenter's Escape From New York
, the hunting grounds for this game are actually a city taken over by terrorists. In this case, the mysterious Organizers have cut off Varrigan City from the rest of the world and forced its citizenry to kill or be killed.
Jack himself even seems to have been created from mixed and matched parts as the character is an amalgam of Hellboy
(his goggles resemble Big Red's horns and they both swing the Right Hand of Doom), Sin City
's Marv (Jack's chiseled face looks just like Marv) and The Evil Dead
's Ash (he's got a chainsaw for an arm).
While MadWorld's premise is nothing new, the game's graphics are. Sort of. Taking inspiration from Frank Miller's Sin City
, Varrigan City is rendered completely in a black and white monotone, except for the constant splashes of red that color the world as Jack begins killing the other Death Watch contestants. The three colors mix together to create an effect that is absolutely amazing in motion and it is a testament to the creativity a developer like Platinum is willing to experiment with.
However, the detailed environments put a breathtaking spin on gameplay design that is more or less been there, done that. Jack can dispatch the faceless goons he comes across in a wide variety of gruesome and bloody ways. From impaling them with a street sign to slicing-and-dicing with his chainsaw (which is controlled by swinging the Wii Remote like a mad men... which is seriously great fun), Jack has a ton of different methods to make the mooks meet their maker. There are also various environmental kills that can be used such as slamming your enemies onto a meathook or slamming your enemies onto a lamphook (which suspiciously looks like a meathook). Environmentally-based minigames, known as Bloodbath Challenges, are included in every level and involve some very creative ways to die (such as throwing enemies into a boiling vat of oil, throwing enemies onto a giant dartboard and throwing enemies into the path of an oncoming train). These Challenges are definitely the highlight of many of the game's levels.
Equally as impressive as the visuals is the game's audio content. During the contest, two announcers constantly provide ridiculously vulgar, but ridiculously funny, play-by-play. Voiced by John Di Maggio (better known as Bender from Futurama
) and Greg Proops, the two trade barbs left my mouth agape. The pimp presenter of the Bloodbath Challenges (who gets gruesomely killed everytime he appears on screen) is also impressively voiced by Reno Wilson. The musical accompaniment to this bloodbath consists of a heavy rock and rap soundtrack that perfectly accentuates the carnage and the comedy without overwhelming either.
Sadly, at its heart, MadWorld is a simple beat 'em up. A horrifically violent beat 'em up, but a beat 'em up none-the-less. And its this simplicity that undermines the creativity found in MadWorld's game world. All of the kills start feeling the same and bludegeoning dozens of contestants with a chainsaw begins to lose its spark after awhile.