MadWorld Preview: In A World Gone Mad, Only A Lunatic Is Truly Insane
Once, maybe twice , a year a game comes along, sometimes out of nowhere, and is so creative, so imaginative, that it really sets itself apart from the rest. This March the game that will set that new standard will be Sega’s “MadWorld.” Not only will “MadWorld” offer a new answer to the old joke “What’s black and white and red all over?” but “MadWorld” has a chance to go down in history. Its subject matter, art style, and and very existence accomplish things that some may have never thought possible on Nintendo’s super-casual Wii, but hardcore gamers finally have something to look forward to, and it’s amazing.
I may be over analyzing the game, but it only took me a few minutes to get a real sense for “MadWorld”’s gritty aesthetics, as well as its’ over-the-top violence. After some hands-on time with a couple of “MadWorld”’s mini-games, I had a chance to really see what a work of art the game is shaping up to be. Even though the game is obviously inspired by the work of Frank Miller, I think once it is released, there is a good chance that it will, single-handedly, change the way people think about the Wii as well as video games in general. While there isn’t anything particularly groundbreaking about the gameplay or storyline of “MadWorld” the combination of the ultraviolent setting of the game, and the stark (mostly) monochromatic visuals will finally create a game for the Wii that might only appeal to hardcore gamers, and scare away their sisters and moms.
The story of “MadWorld” is pretty simple; Varrigan City has been driven into chaos because they have been quarantined to contain a deadly virus. Everyone that is trapped inside the city are forced to fight for their life on a television show called Death Watch. In the game, you play as Jack who, if he survives, gets… to survive. While the plot sounds a little like one of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s The Running Man or any story arc from the X-Men comics that features Mojo, it’s still a fairly new idea for video games, with “Smash TV” being the only thing that comes close. “MadWorld”’s packed an extreme amount of ultravoilence into one game to really push ESRB’s “M” rating, and create a unique and graphic experience for the Wii.
Even though the story of “Madworld” is firmly placed in the world of fiction, it doesn’t sound like an unlikely candidate for a reality show for the masses to consume a few years down the road. While I hope that good taste will win, it’s not too far off from the crap that’s on-air now – just not necessarily as violent. And that’s what makes “MadWorld” truly great – not only is it really fun to play, but if you look at it the right way it’s a pretty sly commentary on reality television… but, like I said, I could be reading a little bit into it
The two mini-games, or Blood Bath Challenges, that I had a chance to play were Death Press and Man Darts. In the first one Jack had to throw enemies into a giant compactor, and crush as many of them as possible. First, I had to stun them, and then throw them to their death, however, after being tossed into the compactor, you have to make sure they stayed there.
In Human Darts Jack got blend two of my favorite “sports” – darts and baseball. Coincidently, those are two games that have both been done pretty well on the Wii already, but the darts in “MadWorld” were nothing like you had ever played before. Jack has to score points by hitting his enemies into a giant dart board to score points – the more points you score, the closer you are to winning. Even though the targeting took a little getting used to, driving an enemy into the bulls eye was an incredibly enjoyable experience. Both games were played with simple, intuitive controls, as “MadWorld” takes advantage of the of the Wii’s motion controls/nunchuck configuration. The motion based setup makes it easy to stun a guy and then throw him across the screen to his death… or drive him into the 17 point trippler on the dart board.
As you may have noticed “Madworld” is not your average Wii title. It’s brash, bold, and extremely violent – hopefully it’s the kick in the pants that the Wii needs to really get real gamers back on the console. Fortunately, it seems like there is a solid game behind all the violent fun, so it’s not just “something to play” – there’s some substance to back it up. It’s funny, one of the things that caught me most off guard about “MadWorld” wasn’t the plot, the blood, or the insane finishers – a lot of those can be found in one game or another – it was the game’s animation that really blew me away. I think I had some expectations of how the game would flow, based on the screenshots and the trailers that had been released, but actually seeing the game in motion was like watching a piece of art come to life. The movement of the characters was fluid, and felt like a well crafted animated movie. From Jack, to his enemies, to the backgrounds, everything looked, and moved very smoothly, and felt really amazing. The animation in “MadWorld” easily surpassed every Wii title I have seen to date, and it felt more engaging than a lot of PS3 and 360 games that I have played.
Platinum games really has a created something special with “MadWorld.” When the game hits store shelves on March 10th there will finally be a Wii game catering to the adult, hardcore gamers that have been starved a game like this, really since the console was released. Sure, others have come, but none of them have been as bloody, raw, or in your face, and none of them have done it with such a sense of style – especially one with a color palate that proves that you don’t need to be able to render 15 million colors to create an amazing experience. “MadWorld” is going to be bloody, offensive, disturbing, and, at the same time, it’s going to be beautiful, creative, and fascinating. That’s a line that very few games have ever attempted to walk, and the ones that do, very rarely make it to the end of the line.