MadWorld Review
MadWorld box art
System: Wii Review Rating Legend
Dev: PlatinumGames 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: SEGA 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: March 10, 2009 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Mature 3.5 - 3.9 = Good

I haven’t laughed this hard with a video game since I doled out my first teabag. MadWorld is an irreverent, outlandishly gory beat-‘em-up that’s pummeled the dust right off my Wii. PlatinumGames has done an exquisite job in creating this title – they truly have played to the Wii’s strengths without getting suckered in by the platform’s gimmicky foibles.

MadWorld screenshot

Striking the perfect balance between standard and motion controls was the developer’s first stroke of genius, the risky choice to employ black and white visuals paid off in spades, and the tongue-in-cheek, dark humor mixes expertly with the visceral nature of the gameplay. Top it all off with an amazing soundtrack and side-splitting voice over work, and adult Wii owners have finally been given a title they can sink their teeth into after the kids have gone to bed.

Drawing from such source material as Sin City and Running Man, MadWorld takes players through a dark, graphic novel-like setting where anything goes. Varrigan City – an island-based megalopolis obviously fashioned after New York City – has been met with a horrible disaster. The entire city has been cut off from the rest of the world due to a horrible outbreak, and it has subsequently been overrun by a terrorist organization hosting a sadistic event known only as The DeathWatch Games. This perverted game show pits neighbor against neighbor in a fight for survival. To make matters worse, murderous thugs called Killseekers have come to the city in an attempt to rise through The DeathWatch ranks and claim the ultimate jackpot.

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After three days of absolute horror, the city has fallen into utter chaos when, seemingly out of nowhere, a new contestant named Jack Cayman (just Jack to you and me) shows up with a chainsaw appendage and a pair of goggles that can't quite hide his massive unibrow. Jack instantly asserts his authority and demonstrates his prowess by literally tearing the competition apart! This simple, outlandish premise is the basis for the events that transpire in MadWorld - the game never takes itself too seriously or apologizes for its fantastical approach. However, players will be met with a surprisingly involved narrative that becomes more engaging as they advance through the diverse sections of the city.

MadWorld screenshot

MadWorld is not just your standard beat-'em-up. For starters, the game is one of the most graphic titles around. Blood spurts out of cavernous wounds like a fountain at a Vegas casino. Nevertheless, MadWorld doesn't just rely on copious amounts of blood and cheap tricks for amusement. Players will have fun throughout the game by building upon their combat skill set, employing devastating finishing moves, using environmental objects to enhance their kills, and challenging outrageous area bosses - ranked competitors with an attitude!

MadWorld does a great job of keeping players engaged in the killing spree by throwing bigger and better baddies at them, changing up the environments, rewarding them with various weapons, multiplying their scores with more complex kills, giving them a rank as if it were a real sport, and plugging hilariously brutal mini-games into the formula. The devs even went so far as to add motorbike areas to give players a Road Rash-like experience in order to break up standard combat. When players have accrued enough points in a certain area, they will then be able to initiate the boss sequence. These boss battles are both challenging and vicious, and players will be thrilled to see their rank as a competitor in The DeathWatch Games increase with every victory.

MadWorld screenshot

True to beat-'em-up form, MadWorld places an emphasis on scoring and survival. Players will have to try and accrue as many points as they can by perfecting their combat ability and giving the fictional fans a real show with shocking kills. For example, simply cutting someone in half with your chainsaw is just routine violence. If you really want to rack up the points and put on a show, you'll have to throw a tire on your victim, stab him in the head with a couple signposts, give him a swirly, and shove them in a flaming barrel or bash them against massive wall spikes (appropriately called rosebushes) four or five times. Of course, if you want a change of pace, you could just slam your foe on a spike, through his butt and out the top of his head. To call this game brutal is an understatement, and it's scary just how funny and satisfying it all is. At the end of each zone, players will be able to see their score results and how many kills they amassed as well as the level of quality each slaying had. Getting through each section with a better score than the last time is a good challenge and one that will keep gamers playing this title over and over again.

Dealing out extreme carnage isn't the only important part of the game, though. Players will have to survive if they want to keep their score tallying. In normal mode, players will start the game with one life and two "continues" - essentially three lives (in hard mode, you'll struggle with just one measly life!). If you run out of "continues," you won't have to start the game over, but you will start with a big fat goose egg for points. Luckily, health-drops in the form of Happy Onions and Happy Pills along with extra continues called Jack Balloons are prevalent. This formula works great for a modern beat-'em-up, as it tests your skills but allows you to advance the storyline without getting bogged down, and the amped-up difficulty in hard mode will really test your skill on the second playthrough.

Screenshots / Images
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