Video Game Review: Excellent, Violent ‘MadWorld’ Rare Adults-Only Game For Nintendo Wii

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CHICAGO – The gleefully violent, insanely fun, over-the-top chaos of “MadWorld” could change your impressions of the Wii for all time.

The Nintendo Wii has been a mega-hit console largely because this legendary company brilliantly targeted under-served markets like kids and families. But the Wii is not typically the machine that older players reach for when they want an R-rated good time. Until “MadWorld”.

“MadWorld” could be called “Frank Miller’s The Running Man”. The visual aesthetic of this surprisingly well-rendered game looks like Miller’s “Sin City” and the gameplay brings back memories of movies about deadly game shows like “The Running Man” or “Death Race”. The basic concept of the game - kill as many people as possible in the most creative and violent ways that your sick imagination can come up with and become the best nut job in “Mad World”.

Photo credit: Sega

Players proceed from level to level by racking up points that eventually open up new and exciting environments and level bosses waiting for the ugly end of your chainsaw. You have a killer right hook and Leatherface’s favorite weapon of choice, but they’re just the beginning of the violent toys of “MadWorld”.

Photo credit: Sega

Each area has items in its environment than can be used to inflict damage on the poor goons headed your way and the more creative you get, the more points you’ll be awarded. For example, spinning a guy around and throwing him into a wall looks groovy, but it won’t get you nearly as many points as wrapping a spare tire around him, driving a sign post through his head, and driving him into a spike butt-first.

All of this gleeful mayhem is rendered in striking black-and-white with flourishes of red blood a la “Sin City” and it all comes with color commentary and play-by-play for the futuristic game show. Some of the vulgar voice work by Greg Proops (“Whose Line is It Anyway?”) and John Dimaggio (“Futurama”) gets repetitive, as does the score and grunt work by your hapless victims, but it’s still generally clever stuff.

Visually, “MadWorld” is a beauty with incredibly fluid line detail and a neverending series of bad guys waiting for their turn on the spike. As each new area opens to you and you see something new in the background to help you become a more proficient killer like a press to through people in or, in an early level, an entire jet engine turbine, the right player will laugh and smile at the ridiculousness of it all.

And everyone can play differently. If you find a finishing move that you particularly enjoy, keep using it. Even if it’s not the most point-generating kill technique, as long as you avoid damage yourself, you’ll eventually get to the next level. Or you can play the other way and try and find the most creative, unique, out-of-the-way killing maneuver. The levels are all surprisingly deep with a great variety in gameplay.

Photo credit: Sega

To be fair, the game could have used even a bit MORE variety. I was hoping my finishing moves would change and quickly grew tired of swinging guys around and tossing them into a wall. But, then again, the very concept of “MadWorld” brings new meaning to the word “overkill,” so a little repetition is to be expected.

All these words devoted to the style and gameplay and we haven’t really even broached HOW you play. Movement and some finishing moves are controlled by the nunchuk with the Wii-mote inflicting most of the pain. The A button punches and grabs while the B-button pulls out your nifty chainsaw.

The actions of the Wiimote are mostly fluid although the grab system for items really needed a little polishing. If you’re near an item that can be used, the game will notify you to pick up A and then you’ll have to be facing the item exactly. The amount of times I fumbled around trying to grab a tire or a box was far too many. The system should be more organic, I’m near the tire. Now grab the damn thing.

But it’s a minor complaint for a control system that’s truly excellent and incredibly intuitive. You’ll quickly be combining Wiimote movements, nunchuk techniques, and A/B buttons in your orgy of carnage.

Photo credit: Sega

With no online multiplayer (although you can share the fun locally with a split-screen two-player game), one thing a lot of people want to know is the length of a game like “MadWorld”. It’s not long - only about six hours on normal mode - but the difficulty levels and the incredible range of gameplay within those six hours make this a very replayable title.

“MadWorld” is unabashedly offensive. This is such extreme material that it makes “Grand Theft Auto” look like “The Sims”. But that’s why it works. I often say, if you’re going to go off the rails, go COMPLETELY off the rails. Why hold back once you’ve gone over-the-top? And that’s why I kind of love “Mad World”. It’s an insane game. Totally nuts. And I mean that it a good way.

Check out this awesome video of “MadWorld” and take a look at the chaos for yourself.

‘MadWorld’ was released by Sega and developed by PlatinumGames. It is rated M (Mature). It is exclusively available for the Wii. It was released on March 10th, 2009. content director Brian Tallerico

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