Friday, August 19

MadWorld Review (Wii) – Black and White Noir at Bargain Bin Prices

Stranded on the desolate Jefferson Island, the chainsaw wielding Jack Cayman must hack, chop, disembowel and dismember the Killseekers as he battles his way through the DeathWatch Games. A violent version of Big Brother, the DeathWatch Games is the most watched series on television, with corporate sponsorship and big money payouts enticing every day citizens to pick up a weapon, find their neighbour and kill them.

To progress through MadWorld you must roam the streets, take out as many people as possible, as quickly as possible, all while earning enough points to fight the boss. Once the boss is done, it’s onto the next level to start your violent rampage again.

The Good
For the most part, MadWorld is fun. It looks and feels like a Frank Miller graphic novel, with the only colours used being red and yellow. All the environments are created in black and white and as you make a noise, the sound bite is displayed on screen. For example when you throw your enemies into the Rose Bush (a big wall of spikes) it displays a very comic book SPLAT and CRUNCH. This mixed with the spray of blood is a very cool aesthetic.

The controls are simple enough, with regular movement of the nunchuck and wiimote required for tasks such as a variety of punches, quick escapes and finishing/special moves. It doesn’t take long to learn how to mix up different attacks and get a high score, with new combinations and unique killing methods regularly presenting themselves.

Creatively killing enemies is another great aspect of this game. As you progress through each stage, more opportunities open up allowing you to expand your killing repertoire. Environmental objects such as meat hooks, circular saws and moving trains create a deadly world for both you and your enemies. Some of the more creative ways to die are shown in the BloodBath Challenge. These generate extra points and a bit of a laugh, with an entertaining pimp named the Black Baron introducing each challenge and falling victim to its trap every time.

Creative killing earns bonus points
The Bad
The voice acting isn’t good and feels like a dodgy anime at times. While most sentences flow, it’s like some were just cut and pasted together to form dialogue, with a number of conversations between characters sounding very choppy. Agent 13 has a dodgy European accent and Jack feels like the producers wanted Hellboy’s Ron Pearlman but settled for someone else. On the flipside, the commentary from the TV presenters is often hilarious although repetitious. There are only so many times that you can throw someone into the Rose Bush or hack someone with a chainsaw and laugh at the same line over and over.

The boss fights are disappointing and varying in difficulty, but not increasingly difficult. The second boss seemed harder than the third and fourth boss and although some are challenging at first, the second you get near to them you have the opportunity to go into close combat (shaking the wiimote/nunchuck then moving as per the onscreen instructions) and then ultimately finish them off. Do this twice and it’s game over for the CPU.

The Ugly
The view is fixed and royally horrible. Positioned above the head and slightly behind the body, you find yourself constantly hitting C to reset your view to see where you are going. Had it been further back and higher to allow greater scope, MadWorld would be easier to play and more enjoyable to watch. The targeting system is also flawed, with the ability to lock your view onto targets difficult due to the fact you can’t look directly at them long enough to make it stick. This is the main difficulty in any boss fight.

Navigation is also frustrating with new bonuses opening up regularly but no real way to find them. Whilst all BloodBath Challenges and Boss Fights are marked on the map, unless I knew the map well, most new weapons, free lives and incentives went to waste.

The Verdict
7.0 Feeling like an early black and white cartoon version of Bulletstorm, MadWorld takes cues from such pop culture icons as Evil Dead, Death Race, The Running Man and Frank Miller’s graphic novels/movies, particularly Sin City. While the black and white visuals mixed with a red arterial spray or comic-esque yellow sound bites are a refreshing change, the repetition of the landscape and audio make it hard to want to pick it up again in the near future. Despite this, MadWorld is one of the Wii’s finest and is an enjoyable game, especially if you’re in the mood for ultra violence, mindless destruction and mayhem for less than $20.

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