Wii

North America

MadWorld

by Neal Ronaghan - March 24, 2009, 6:17 am PDT
Total comments: 16

9

Bloody, offensive, and brilliant.

There are generally two approaches to introducing players to a video game: a game can provide a gentle tutorial, or throw people into a game with little-to-no introduction. Sega and Platinum Games' MadWorld combines the two and does it almost perfectly. This idea extends to almost every aspect of the game, from its story to its brutality. It is this delicate balance of hand-holding and exploration that makes MadWorld work.

For the uninformed, MadWorld is an ultra-violent beat-'em-up made by many of the same people behind games like Okami and Viewtiful Joe. It uses a unique black, white, and red color scheme that looks like a comic book, or more specifically, like Frank Miller's Sin City.

The controls are mostly spot on. The basic melee attacks are controlled by the A button and motion controls, and Jack's chainsaw is used by pressing the B button and swinging the Wii Remote. Of course, the controls' functions change when new weapons are found. You can jump by pushing Z. The camera is the game's only rough spot, as you can only control it by recentering with C, and this command is hard to use in the heat of the combat. The C button can also be held to target specific enemies, but this is pretty much unusable when facing groups of enemies, which is the norm the majority of the time.

With a story put together by Final Fantasy veteran Yasumi Matsuno, the player controls Jack, a man with a chainsaw attached to his arm and a mysterious past. Jack has just joined DeathWatch, a bloody reality television show where contestants must kill or be killed, and he competes in different areas of the terrorist-occupied Varrigan City, such as Asia Town and Area 66. The story starts off a little slow, but as you find out more about Jack's past and how all the characters fit together, it gets better and better.

Much like the story, the gameplay slowly unravels as you play on. This helps players get acclimated to the controls and the style of play. The focus of the game is on killing people in outrageous ways to earn more points. You can impale enemies on spikes, electrocute them, skewer them, and even turn them into human tempura. It is fulfilling when you discover a new way to kill an enemy. Each of the fourteen levels is a march to different target scores that unlock weapons, Bloodbath Challenges, boss battles, and more. The best part about the levels is that the majority of them are relatively open-ended: they are little sandboxes where you can use the environment, various weapons, and your own two hands to annihilate the different types of enemies that come your way. As for the enemies, you'll fight everything from generic thugs and robots to zombies and ninjas.

Sadly, not every level is open-ended, as a few are short motorcycle segments or boss battles. The motorcycle segments require you to maneuver around obstacles and use motion controls to kill enemies on your left or right side, and are the worst levels in the game. Luckily, there are only two of them. The boss battles aren't usually difficult, but they're extremely varied with everything from a vampire to a sumo wrestler. While most don't get much screen time, the bosses have good personalities (mainly thanks to the colorful commentary) and each has an exceptionally gory, interactive death.

The over-the-top Bloodbath Challenges, short mini-games that are inside levels, are quite humorous and a means of getting bonus points. One relatively tame example is Man Golf, where you tee up enemies using a golf club. They get far more absurd. The Bloodbath Challenges are also the source of MadWorld's multiplayer. In the context of the game's levels, the Bloodbath Challenges are fun little distractions and add to the abundant gameplay variety, but they don't hold up well by themselves and most of them are poorly explained.

MadWorld contains the two funniest characters I have ever heard in a video game: the announcers. Voiced by Greg Proops (Who's Line Is It Anyway?) and John DiMaggio (Bender in Futurama), the duo is often extremely vulgar and offensive, but they never fail to be funny. While their banter is not for the easily offended, it makes the game one-of-a-kind. The rest of the voice acting is very good, although a lot of the cut scenes just involve talking heads. Also, the soundtrack, which contains a lot of original hip-hop songs, suits the game well.

While the game is undeniably fun and filled with a lot of personality, it is a rather short affair, clocking in at around five hours. It's a blast while it lasts, but all that remains after you complete the game is a nearly impossible harder mode and some unrewarding challenges that take place in levels. These challenges range between speed runs and specific types of kills, such as getting enemies run over by a train. Still, the levels are fun to go back to and, as said before, the sandbox nature of them allow for fun exploration.

Aside from the camera issue and length, MadWorld is superb. Everything from the visual style and the sound to the ultra-violent gameplay and visceral controls are wonderful. It has its flaws, but MadWorld is riddled with unadulterated fun. Any Wii gamer that can handle MadWorld's violence and foul language should try this game, just don't expect to last too long.

Note: The PAL version of MadWorld does not support 60hz display mode, and has not been optimised for 50hz. As a result, it runs with borders at a lower frame rate than the North American game reviewed here.

Score

Graphics Sound Control Gameplay Lastability Final
9.5 10 9 9 5 9
Graphics
9.5

The unique graphical style is in a league of its own and makes the absurd violence bearable. Besides a few moments of slowdown, the game runs fine and looks beautiful.

Sound
10

A great voice cast complements the suiting hip-hop music and blood-curdling sound effects. The commentators are the funniest and most offensive duo in video games.

Control
9

MadWorld's fantastic motion controls are very visceral and sometimes make you feel like you're actually twisting someone's neck around. The only control issues are with the camera.

Gameplay
9

When it clicks, it clicks, and luckily it does that for the majority of the game. The motorcycle segments don't have much depth and are pretty lackluster, but there aren't many of them.

Lastability
5

Clocking in at a little over five hours, MadWorld is pretty damn short. However, the levels are a lot of fun to explore, and there is a cruel hard mode that adds some replay value.

Final
9

Despite the short length, MadWorld is one of the finest games on the Wii due to its inimitable bloody style, enjoyable gameplay variety, and solid and intuitive controls. It's also very funny, thanks to the two comedic commentators.

Summary

Pros
  • Fantastic voice acting
  • Fun and intuitive motion controls
  • Good story
  • Solid gameplay variety
Cons
  • Camera is hard to maneuver
  • Story mode lasts about five hours
Review Page 2: Conclusion

Talkback

ShyGuyMarch 24, 2009

I thought the Black Baron was funnier than Whose Line and Bender.

HypotheliciouslyMarch 24, 2009

Damn good review! *Thumbs Up!*

StratosMarch 24, 2009

Good review, makes me want to get it even more. The length is pretty sad but the rest of the game's experience sounds like it does a good job of making up for it. Plus hard-mode sounds like an awesome masochist experience.

I'm still upset at what happened with the PAL version even though it doesn't affect me. Has Sega commented on this matter yet?

PlugabugzMarch 24, 2009

I really do feel that the PAL statement at the bottom should be pushed to the top. That reason alone was why i sent it back to HMV and put it on high priority rental instead.

D_AverageMarch 24, 2009

dAMN I wanna play this game

StratosMarch 25, 2009

Has any of the staff tried to contact Sega concerning the PAL issue? I'm wondering how long this will go on until Sega comments on the matter.

We'll contact them if we haven't already.

StratosMarch 25, 2009

Maybe this was obvious to everyone else, but I just realized that your final sore is not an average of the other scores. I don't have a problem with that, it's just something I never noticed before.

redgiementalMarch 30, 2009

The PAL issue makes me want to import it.

It should work fine via gecko os like my other imports.

Flames_of_chaosLukasz Balicki, Staff AlumnusMarch 30, 2009

Quote from: Stratos

Maybe this was obvious to everyone else, but I just realized that your final sore is not an average of the other scores. I don't have a problem with that, it's just something I never noticed before.

The only site that used to use an average for a final score is Gamespot now I think they use this pointless badge system.

StratosMarch 31, 2009

Quote from: Flames_of_chaos

Quote from: Stratos

Maybe this was obvious to everyone else, but I just realized that your final sore is not an average of the other scores. I don't have a problem with that, it's just something I never noticed before.

The only site that used to use an average for a final score is Gamespot now I think they use this pointless badge system.

I guess that I still have the old Nintendo Power rating style stuck in my head where they got scores from five different reviewers for the different categories and averaged it out on a 10.0 scale. I'm in the camp that no game is a 10 game unless it overcomes those odds.

Flames_of_chaosLukasz Balicki, Staff AlumnusMarch 31, 2009

Quote from: Stratos

Quote from: Flames_of_chaos

Quote from: Stratos

Maybe this was obvious to everyone else, but I just realized that your final sore is not an average of the other scores. I don't have a problem with that, it's just something I never noticed before.

The only site that used to use an average for a final score is Gamespot now I think they use this pointless badge system.

I guess that I still have the old Nintendo Power rating style stuck in my head where they got scores from five different reviewers for the different categories and averaged it out on a 10.0 scale. I'm in the camp that no game is a 10 game unless it overcomes those odds.

That's the thing, a 10/10 or a 5/5 is not a perfect game even after GTA4 and MGS4 received a bunch of 10s from a few websites. A perfect game doesn't exist because every game has faults and every person has different tastes in games. Someone's 10/10 could be another person's 8/10.

KDR_11kMarch 31, 2009

Quote from: Flames_of_chaos

That's the thing, a 10/10 or a 5/5 is not a perfect game even after GTA4 and MGS4 received a bunch of 10s from a few websites. A perfect game doesn't exist because every game has faults and every person has different tastes in games. Someone's 10/10 could be another person's 8/10.

IMO a rating rates roughly how high the average fun is and if it's so high that you're going to be fully entertained the whole time a 10/10 is warranted.

YmeegodApril 04, 2009

Loved the game, hell even during the ending credits the commentators still had jokes left and right.

Producer:

"He's the guy that came around with pizza that one time".  :0

Yeah, it's short and it's so good it leaves you hungry for more.  Kinda disappointing with no On line support (there's a limited 2 player offline mode but I would kill for an on line co-op mode.  Kill as in beat you with my fists until you're dazed, dropped  a barrel over your head, beat the barrel with a bat, then finally throwing you into a moving bus :).

I know I'm reviving a long dormant thread, but I was talking about MadWorld with some people recently and it made me think of my extreme insecurity of this review.

I loved this game the first time I played through it, and I thought I would go back to it after I finished the story and the review and just bomb around the levels killing people violently.

I did go back to it about a month after the review and I was ridiculously underwhelmed. I had played the game already, there wasn't any more fun for there to be had. After that, I kind of regreted giving it a 9.0, because of my unhappiness with it a month after it came out.

After reading this review again, I surprisingly still agree with it. I think that this game is a 9.0 the first time you play it. It is a fantastic, bloody brawler while it lasts.

If I have one regret this review, it's that I wasn't aware of how little lastability this game would have, but other than that, I feel completley justified in giving MadWorld a 9.0. I am now back to having no review regrets in my (almost) year and a half as a staff member here.

StratosJuly 01, 2009

I think that is one of the toughest call s a reviewer has to make. You only have so much time to play it so how can you possibly know for sure how much lastability is in a game. You can make guesses, assumptions and educated readings based on things like the multiplayer modes quality, bonus modes or extra hidden items and challenges, but you cannot truly know how well the hold up until giving the game a whirl again. And who knows? I've found some games like this that I play and love, then don't touch it for a year(s) and go back to it and have a good time then once I've forgotten half of it. A month might be too short of a wait to be able to go back.

Thanks for the secondary thoughts, Nron.

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MadWorld Box Art

Genre Action
Developer Platinum Games
Players1 - 2
Controllers

Worldwide Releases

na: MadWorld
Release Mar 10, 2009
PublisherSega
RatingMature
jpn: MadWorld
Release Feb 10, 2010
PublisherSpike
Rating18+
eu: MadWorld
Release Mar 20, 2009
PublisherSega
Rating18+

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