We’re not entirely sure what’s happened to Sega recently. They used to be such a nice company, known for anthropomorphising hedge-dwelling animals and skies so blue they’d burn your retinas if you stared at them too long. Slowly though, the company has changed, creating increasingly violent and adult-focused games, going from Condemned to House of the Dead: Overkill and now to this.
We should have known something was afoot the moment the publisher dropped that harmonic motif that can bring the minds of an entire generation back to childhood – Saaai-ga!
MadWorld is easily Sega’s most provocative title yet though, which is saying a lot considering the record set by House of the Dead: Overkill. Like Overkill though, MadWorld is really more of a parody than a serious attempt to make an ultra-violent game. Mercifully, this is no Manhunt – a fact that’s proven by the sheer ludicrousness of the plotting.
MadWorld takes place in the decimated husk of an American city that’s been taken over by a secretive group of terrorists called The Organisers, who’ve wiped out nearly all of the residents with a deadly plague. The remaining men and women in the city, as well as a large number of psychopaths and similarly unstable volunteers, have been forced into a grim spectacle for the viewing pleasure of the rest of the world.
The name of this snuffish gameshow is Deathwatch and everyone you come across in the game is a contestant, all of whom are hoping to win a slice of fame and the promised cash-prize on top of continued survival. You, the car mechanic with the chainsaw-arm and the disposition like a grizzly bear with a hangover, stand apart from this crowd in that you’ve got your own agenda to complete, but you’ve still got to play the game. No secret mission is going to change that and, in fact, it’ll only complicate it when your foes cotton on to your scheme.
So, you’re going to have to play the game – which means mutilating and murdering the thousands of nutjobs that lie between you and the end boss. You’re literally going to have to kill all of them too, as the main structure for the game involves you getting dumped in a level and having to tackle all the foes as fast as you can in order to incite the boss to appear.
When he does, you fight him. Then there’s usually a mini-game, then it’s on to the next level. That’s pretty much the way the whole game ticks through, which sounds incredibly formulaic but actually gives you a huge amount of freedom. The levels are mostly pretty open and are built in a way that rewards players who experiment with ways of tackling their foes.
It’s there that the real meat of the gameplay lies, naturally; finding as many over-the-top ways to slaughter your opposition, be it on-foot or on your motorbike. It’s also one aspect of the game that truly doesn’t disappoint – the sheer number of ways that you can re-decorate the screen with crimson is enough to ensure that we’ll never, ever spend time alone with the developer, Platinum Games. One-on-one interviews are now totally off the cards.