MadWorld «

Platinum Games’ MadWorld might be rated “M,” but that doesn’t mean it’s a very mature game. It’s a gleeful romp filled with decapitations, disembowelment, and language bluer than the sky. In other words, it’s designed for the snickering 15 year-old in all of us. It’s a huge obnoxious joke that’s a fairly equal-opportunity offender. It also happens to be one of the best beat ’em ups to come along in some time. In an odd way, it hearkens back to the repetitive brawling games of Sega’s past, such as Streets of Rage, albeit with a stronger dose of cynicism… and a chainsaw. It’s one of the most unique games to grace the Wii.

In MadWorld’s near-future dystopia, the island borough of Varrigan City has been blockaded off, and its numerous CCTV cameras have been converted from public safety wardens to voyeuristic devices. Varrigan has transformed from a sprawling city into a giant set for reality TV shows. “DeathWatch” is the top-rated show, a brutal bloodsport run by a secret group called “The Organizers.” You play as Jack, a tough ex-Marine who’s there to kill his way up to the massive cash prize. The more you play, though, the more you realize that these ideas merely tease at a more intricate unfolding plot.

MadWorld is a patchwork of pop-culture influences. It’s easy to see strands of Frank Miller, Richard Bachman’s “The Running Man,” ultra-violent manga, the WWE and “Itchy & Scratchy” all combined in its virtual DNA. The first thing you’ll notice is its highly-stylized visuals. It makes use of the same nearly-monochromatic color scheme as the film “Sin City,” and like No More Heroes and killer7 before it, MadWorld offers a stylish visual splendor to accompany its wince-inducing brutality. It’s also important to note that although MadWorld’s graphic violence is initially appalling; its over-the-top approach is equally hilarious. Unlike the sadism of Manhunt 2, this game’s approach to cruelty is far more “Happy Tree Friends” than pseudo-snuff film.

It’s also bursting with insane characters, and that’s not even counting “DeathWatch’s” gutter-mouthed “sportscasters.” Recalling the wacky level bosses of No More Heroes, MadWorld features a diverse rogue’s gallery, ranging from Gestapo-like Herr Frederick Von Twirlenkiller, who boasts two airplane turbines on his arms, to sumo Yokozuna, who’s so nice you’ve got to kill him thrice. There’s also the Black Baron, a completely offensive pimp character who introduces each Bloodbath Challenges before getting brutally dispensed by one of his employees. But then, what’s not offensive in a game in which the color commentators make jokes about cuckolds and anal sex? At points, the game even admits that some of its stereotypes are ridiculous. MadWorld doesn’t just slay sacred cows, it seems to make a leather jacket from them, with a picture of a middle finger on the back.

It’s also a deceptively simple game to play. You rack up points by grabbing goons and killing them via horrific means, usually via conveniently-placed environmental hazards. There are point multipliers for uniquely brutal kills, like jamming a tire over someone’s body, jamming a sign post through his head, then tossing him onto a wall of spikes, dubbed “the rose bush.” There are more than enough saw blades, spikes, and meat hooks around to keep the mayhem interesting. As you continue to rack up points for your carnage, you’ll begin to unlock mini-games, and eventually, a boss encounter.


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