From the moment you click on the disc channel you can tell what the game is going to be like. MadWorld from the get go lets you know it is going to be to two things; stylish and brutal. The plain black background reveals the game’s white and red logo, the rev of a chainsaw is heard before the gravelly tones of the games main character growls “MadWorld”.
Hit start, the game boots up and it delivers on those sly nods in the disc channel. The first thing that hits you when you start playing is the games distinct visual style. Presented in cell shaded monochrome it’s like a Frank Miller novel brought to life. Think Sin City meets the Running Man.
You play Jack, Sent to ‘Jefferson Island’ by the Department of Justice to save the Mayor’s daughter and foil the plot of a mysterious terrorist group that have taken over the city, killed most of the population with a deadly virus and turned it into the stage for a brutal game show known as Death watch. The premise is simple; kill or be killed. Become the top ranked fighter to win a huge cash prize and freedom from the island.
The lack of colour and the motion comic style of the cut scenes help to bring this gritty, if not slightly ridiculous story to life and helps to punctuate the bloodletting as you dispatch foes in the most ridiculously violent and bloody way possible. You can thrust poles through their necks, dump them in flaming oil drums, slam them into spikes, throw them into the path of express trains and much more besides. If you can pick it up you can kill someone with it; literally painting the town red while you do so.
That’s not to say that the violence is entirely mindless. In fact the more creative you are with your kills the more points you accumulate as in every good game show; points mean prizes. Get so many points and you will open a weapons container filled with all sorts of goodies such as spiked bats, daggers, and my personal favourite the lance which literally enables you to make a kebab out of your enemies, using these new weapons allows you to mix it up a little more thus racking up even more points. which in turn unlocks the levels ‘Blood Bath Challenge’.
Each of these challenges is introduced by the foul mouthed pimp the ‘Black Baron’ and his fabulous assistant Matilda. Each ends with hilarious and fatal results as the Baron is despatched in a manner that show the player what each challenge is about.
The challenges contain some of the games stand out moments, and include such delights as Man Darts; in which you have to smack foes into a giant dartboard with a spiked baseball bat and The Turbinator; in which you have to try and throw as many hapless thugs as you can into a whirring jet engine.
These set pieces help to break up the levels and keep the action fresh and exciting as well as greatly helping you to boost your score in order to unlock the inevitable but brilliant boss battle at the end of each level.
The foes Jack fights in the boss battles come in all shapes and sizes from a mace wielding giant called ‘Little Eddie’ to a tornado chucking Nazi robot and everything in between. The boss fights are where the game truly shines and have some of the most fantastically over the top finishes seen in any game, triggered by God of war style quick time events, made even more satisfying by the games superb use of motion control.
The controls in general are simple and responsive and the motion controls help to give a feeling of real weight to your attacks. Basic attacks are performed by pushing the A button. Holding down A will perform a grab which enables you to drag foes to their death or a flick of the remote will throw them. Holding B activates the chainsaw strapped to Jacks arm and swinging the remote allows Jack to swipe at foes with it.
Presiding over the mayhem is commentary from John DiMaggio (Futurama, Gears of War) and Greg Proops (Who’s line is it anyway?) . The commentary really compliments the action on screen and is hilarious. After decapitating an enemy DiMaggio hollers “Did you know a cockroach can live for days without a head?” Proops retorts with” That’s nothing, I was married for eight years without head!” This is mixed with a blaring hip hop soundtrack which although at times is quite catchy and fun swiftly degenerate into background noise. However this doesn’t detract from the otherwise fantastic sound direction in the game; Kicks punches and chainsaws all sound spot on and never out of place of flat and the voice work within the cut scenes is well directed and entertaining.
MadWorld although a fantastic game does have a few drawbacks that stop it from scoring top marks. It is a little short at can be completed in around 6 hours on normal difficulty settings, Playing on Hard does extend this greatly as the game becomes much tougher, higher scores become tougher to reach and enemies a lot less forgiving. Also after finishing the game there is little to bring you back apart from a few extra weapons and attempting to beat your previous scores.
The split screen multiplayer mode in which you can replay bloodbath challenges against a friend although fun for a little while does feel tacked on and won’t hold most people’s attention for very long at all.
Despite this I would still highly recommend MadWorld to anyone that wants a break from the usual family friendly fun on the Wii. The mix of Itchy and Scratchyesque violence, crass humour and sexual themes mean that this definitely isn’t a game for kids but if you’re old enough and immature enough. MadWorld is a fantastic rollercoaster ride from start to finish.