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Madworld First Impressions

by: Sean Colleli -
More On: Mad World
This weekend I couldn't resist the urge to pick up Madworld, and I'm very happy that I took the plunge.  Published by Sega, there really isn't anything else out there like Madworld, which made me hesitant to buy at first, but believe me it is worth every penny.  The game has been developed by Platinum Games, a developer that rose from the ashes of Clover Studios (God Hand, Viewtiful Joe, Okami), so it's no surprise that Madworld is well made and highly artistic.  The whole idea behind Madworld is to be as stylistically, gruesomely violent as possible.

Madworld is at is core a brawler, but the visual style mimics the work of Frank Miller and is composed of only three colors: black, white and blood.  This high contrast makes the violence even more stark and shocking, and Platinum takes every opportunity to push that violence over the edge.  You play as Jack, a mercenary stuck on a terrorist controlled island, in the middle of DeathWatch, a televised blood sport.  The only way for Jack to escape and accomplish his mission is to play by the one rule of the sport--dispatch the other contestants in the most creatively gory fashion possible.  You do this in a variety of ways; punches and throws work okay, but to get really interesting (and score the highest) you need to use environmental hazards and items for truly epic kills.  To put this in perspective, think about this: Jack has a chainsaw strapped to his arm, and you are discouraged from using it a lot, in favor of planting guys on spike-walls, sticking street signs through their necks, jamming bottles of fizzy booze down their throats and watching them spiral through the air and slam into the nearest wall...you get the idea.

All of this violence may seem tasteless, but it's done completely for comedic value.  To that effect, the game has color commentators who discuss what Jack is doing, voiced by none other than Greg Proops (Who's Line is in Anyway?) and John Dimaggio (Bender, Marcus Fenix).  The stuff these guys say gets even more ridiculous than the violence, and adds a whole other dimension to the game.  Platinum Games understands that at some point, gratuitous gore actually becomes funny; this keeps Madworld from getting dull and excessive like Manhunt or GTA, games that take themselves a little too seriously at times.

Madworld isn't too lengthy of a game--I'm already about halfway through it--but the sheer style and line-crossing gall of the game more than merit a purchase.  It's quite ironic that after all these years, Sega still does what Nintendon't.  As a Wii exclusive, Madworld gives two big middle fingers to the Wii's squeaky clean casual image, then slices its head off with a chainsaw and sticks it on a spike.  I'll have a full review up once I finish the game but suffice it to say any hardcore Wii owners should go out and buy this one now.