So after a good year of procrastination I finally decided to give Sega's ultra-violent MadWorld a spin. Was it worth the wait?
The short answer is yes, yes it was, but not for all the right reasons. As a Wii-exclusive, MadWorld is one of the only games on that system to feature over-the-top violence and shameless gore which I for one applaud. The presentation of the game is highly stylized, granting the player a give glimpse of what Miller's Sin City might look like in pixel-form. The comparisons between the two properties really ends at the visual level, however, as MadWorld's zany cast of Road Warrior inhabitants are either killed, maimed, or disemboweled quicker than they can "respawn" leaving little room for you to take any interest in them beyond shoving a chainsaw down their gullet.
Now, I'm all for mindless violence and destruction, but I admittedly felt disoriented not only by the rapid pace by which both enemies and task are dealt out, but with the black and white color palette which offers little distinction to the untrained eye between environment, power-ups and enemies. I can see how the red fountains of henchman render much more artistically under these circumstances, but when you can hardly tell them apart in the first place it begins to make little difference how gruesome their fatalities may be.
An upside to the visuals were MadWorld's fully interactive control scheme and its one of the first games I've played on the system that has ever required the use of all the controls in order to progress. While the learning curve can be a bit challenging at first, once you've got your chainsaw and punches down pat you're more than halfway to victory. It gets even better though with the creative kill logic that allows players to spill more blood (and thus gain more points) by subjecting enemies to torturous environmental hazards including turbine engines, spiked walls, sign posts, dartboards and even butt impalements. Yes, in certain levels you can impale muscle macho gangbangers on huge metal spikes via their anus. Beautiful.
It certainly shows where the Splatterhouse team over at Namco may have divined some of their inspiration and definitely stands as a competitor to the upcoming release for gore-iffic kills despite it being a year older. I do have to admit that the free-for-all kills get tiresome after awhile (especially on a visual level), making MadWorld a game that I would have been disappointed by at full price. However, at $10 for a pre-owned copy I'm having plenty of fun bashing bad guys before I trade in back in a few months from now. In the end, its the small things that prevent MadWorld from being an all-inclusive, head-stomping good time and I'm hopeful that if the Splatterhouse team did indeed take inspiration from the game that they are able to avoid its pitfalls.