MadWorld has been heavily hyped as a hardcore darling and Platinum Games' great black-and-white hope. It's super-violent, action-packed and has a wicked sense of humour. And at times, it's utterly brilliant.
You really can't fault MadWorld's quality when it comes to art style and character design. The environments look fantastic and, beyond the standard foe, the beefier enemies and end-of-level bosses are all genuinely memorable.
In fact, MadWorld's presentation and production values are by far its most impressive elements. Surprisingly for an all-out action title, the plot and cut scenes take up plenty of your time and are all executed to the high standards you'd expect of the studio formed from the people behind the critically-acclaimed Okami and GameCube cult fave Viewtiful Joe.
The thrust of the plot is pretty straightforward. You are Jack, a surly, violent participant in DeathWatch, a near-future gameshow in which points are awarded for dispatching your rivals in the nastiest possible fashion. Throughout, commentators chip in with remarks on the action while the hip-hop soundtrack pounds away in the background. Both get a little annoying at times, but still add to the extremely high standard of presentation throughout Jack's bloody adventure.
So does MadWorld's gameplay live up to its impressive visuals? In quick bursts, absolutely. The initial flush of adrenaline when you begin your bloody rampage is one of the most enjoyable experiences to date on Wii. But be warned - this game is perhaps not intended for extended play.
MadWorld's main gameplay mechanic is
not in the basic combat, but in the use of the environments to rack up big scores. It's not enough to repeatedly punch someone in their miserable, monochrome face; you are constantly reminded by the on-screen prompts that 'standard' violence is the bare minimum. MadWorld is all about combining objects, moves and environmental features to max out your score and make your opponents' deaths as grisly as possible.
You've Got Some Red On You
So while simply taking down the standard enemies is never really a problem, it's what you do with them once they're stunned that really matters. After clobbering your enemy with a couple of punches or kicks, you're invited to get creative with the use of whatever you have to hand. Most commonly, it's a case of immobilising them by plonking something over their head, impaling them with something sharp, then finishing them off using whatever gruesome equipment the stage has to offer. That means big spikes, mincing machines and even killer toilets, all of which require a waggle of the Remote and come with lashings of humour and some appropriately squelchy sound effects.
The quality of the experience lives and dies on the variety of different ways you can dispose of your rivals. The best levels are the ones where there's plenty of options - and the poorest are where your choices are restricted. So introducing new toys to play with is the main way Platinum Games keep you interested. As you progress Jack's primary attacks don't vary much from the core punch-impale-finish structure, but there are weapons to pick up along the way that successfully mix things up a little.
So essentially, you'll be performing the same moves over and over again, but with slightly different end results. Which is fine for a little while, but eventually becomes a chore. While each stage features different tools with which to impale or squash your enemies, the novelty wears off a little once you've chucked someone into a spike for the 20th time.