One of the brilliant things about MadWorld is that the entire presentation of the game is geared around the idea that it’s a snuff gameshow that’s actually being broadcast to people across the world.
This means that, rather than just giving you a health meter, the interface is more like a sports game. There’s two commentators who, um, comment endlessly on the action and there’s a scoring system which ties into the complexity of your moves.
There are tonnes of ways to kill people in MadWorld and the more interesting the way you devise, the more points you get. Nearly everything in the game can be interacted with on some level and there’s a plenty of props dotted around for your murderous means – and a chainsaw tethered to your arm if you find your weapon of choice out of reach.
MadWorld left rhyme and reason the moment it adopted such a preposterous storyline, so Platinum Games has gone truly overboard with enemy design too. Not only do the different types of foes run an incredibly wide range, from bikers to ninjas, but they’re all supernaturally hardy too. You can slam a rubbish bin over their heads and stab them with a signpost and they’ll still totter around for a while, letting you rack up more points by spilling more blood.
The main and somewhat obvious flaw with this excessive ultra-violence though is that it’s a gimmick, though an incredibly fun one. Gimmicks, by their very nature, get old quite quickly and though Sega has attempted to alleviate this with some regular minigames and bosses, the reality is that the game soon falls into a somewhat tired pattern. Slam a tire over an enemy’s arms, dump him in the dumpster, find the next guy, grab a tire, repeat.
More pressing than that however, which is arguably more a fault of the gamer than the game, is the graphical style adopted by MadWorld. It’s kind of hard to miss, but Platinum Games has elected to go for a black, white and red stencil style that draws immediate comparisons to Sin City despite the differences. It’s an unusual, striking and interesting choice that does a good job of both skirting censorship issues as well as enhancing the brutal feel of the game. It looks detailed and effective too…in the screenshots.
In reality and in motion however, it’s a somewhat different affair. Platinum Games has obviously tried as hard as it can to give the game some clarity and depth, but there’s often just far too much going on, with too-few colours and zero shading to be able to make anything out.
The player character quickly gets lost in a myriad of black and white abstractions, never sure if the torrent of scarlet is caused by him or gushing from him until it’s too late. The fact that the Wii is a little lacking in polygon power doesn’t help matters much either, as the edges of things are often fuzzy and more indistinct than the mumblings of a…games…waffles…orphanage…BEES!
Graphical griping aside though, MadWorld remains a solidly fun game if you can adapt your playing style or interpretation of virtual 3D images to the art style. There are lots of other things we could tut at, but they’re all pretty minor and unoriginal annoyances; the camera could be better, the commentary more cutting, etc.
At the end of the day though, it’s worth tabling much of these worries aside and taking a step back. It’s important to recognise that, although MadWorld is far from perfect, it’s still fun and it made us laugh more than once. That’s something that’s easily lost in this process of nit-picking and exploratory critiquing and it can compensate for an awful lot.
Besides – chopping people in half with chainsaws is always a great way to spend a few hours.