Genre: Action Developer: Sega Publisher: Sega Classification: MA15+ Release Date: 26th Mar 2009 Platforms:Wii
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The Good bits
Easy to play.
Multiplayer is fun.
Commentary is good.
Gory, funny and very adult.
The Bad stuff
Almost too easy.
Context sensitive controls can mess up some times.
The music, while good, loops incessantly.
MadWorld is a weird game - it starts off all grins and smiles, laughing and cheering at torrents of blood. Then it becomes tedious - repetitive and derivative, a game this colourfully monochromatic shouldn't become boring. Finally it's charming and mind-numbing, wearing you down with fantastic delivery and gore humour until you accept that you're not better than it is and you love it for not
pretending to be anything more.
MadWorld's main issue - the one which will see you bored - is in its lack of depth. When you first start the game is quirky and cool, playing off stereotyped characters, conventions and themes. It's part SmashTV, part Manhunt, part Sin City and part Running Man. It's stylistic and cool, gory and funny... the game is fairly easy to play and there's blood everywhere.
Conceptually it's very old school - a basic beat-em-up formula, occasionally varying enemies and bosses which play out more like puzzles than fights. The level construction and respawning enemies took me back to simpler days as well - you flow from fight to fight, from enemy to enemy as you remember health pack locations and find weapons with ease thanks to basic layouts and a decent hud.
Fighting itself is a basic combination of nunchuk and wiimote control - a lot of the moves are contextual, meaning in different situations the same movement will produce wildly varying effects. With just the A and B buttons players can tear an enemy to shreds with the retractable chainsaw (an interesting enough concept in itself) or grab and throw them into the distance/objects in your surroundings. Some challenge comes thanks to the occasionally unhelpful camera, but the game is easy to get to grips with.
Before long the game goes from fun to gimmicky - the waggling becomes repetitive, the fighting becomes repetitive, the executions become repetitive... You see where I'm going here. The concept itself doesn't seem like it has the weight behind it to go any further than it already has. It doesn't strive to be anything other than exactly what it is in the first 20 minutes of the game, and soon tedium sets in.
The controls on the Wii are extremely simplistic, which tears me in two directions - it encourages tedium set in, unfortunately while also making it the kind of game anyone can play. The contextually focused attacks mean a quick waggle will have you throwing people in front of trains, slamming them through toilets and ripping them apart with all manner of weaponry. At the same time, it begins to feel like you just do the same thing in every battle - maybe you hit a different button or waggle vertically instead of horizontally, but you're still shaking your arms a lot.
At the same time, the fact that someone can walk into a room and immediately tear some goons apart means two-player is a blast, and cracking out MadWorld with some mates is actually a decent proposition. The blood and graphics are good enough to hold their weight even against titles on the two bigger consoles which is no mean feat.
One thing I did almost immediately was tune out the music and turn up the commentary - the music isn't "bad", but it does loop after a little while and it can get annoying. That and the default volume seems to drown out the commentators - voiced by John Di Maggio (Bender from Futurama) and Greg Proops (Whose Line is it Anyway) - two guys who make even the crudest of toilet humour seem funny.
The game even has a plot - not that you'll care. It's the sort of Escape from LA, where the main character is this ultra bad-ass character in a dystopian city which hates him. It's definitely a throw-away story - not something you'll find yourself recalling in detail for very long afterwards - but it's well told and the voice acting is great.
I love the new "adult" tack Sega are taking with their current Wii line-up and I hope it continues. What MadWorld needs is more complexity, but a lot of what makes it great is the fact that it's so easy. I like playing with friends, I enjoy working out the light puzzles and I love the commentary - still, the entire game seems almost condescending in its simplicity. If toilet humour and slapstick comedy doesn't outright turn you off, MadWorld is definitely worth a look in some way.