MadWorld

Games

March 17, 2009|By McClatchy-Tribune

$49.99 for Nintendo Wii. Rated Mature *** (3 STARS)

An Olympic-sized pool cannot contain the amount of blood spilled in MadWorld, a game that earns the right to be called the most violent ever made. It throws gratuitous violence into a meat grinder, telling players that murder with a chain saw is fine and dandy, and for an amateur to become a talented executioner, you'll have to lash out creatively, prolonging your victim's death through multiple phases of pain.

MadWorld runs the gamut in violence, taking an encyclopedic approach to its variety in kills. Some of the bloodletting will make you squirm uncomfortably. Do we really need to learn how many times a person can be impaled on the same spike before drawing a last breath? Can a chain saw cut through bone that quickly? While these moments recall memories of Manhunt, other deaths fall more into the Itchy & Scratchy universe of absurdity. Place a victim on a catapult, and they'll launch to the moon. Why play golf with tiny white balls when you can use a human skull instead? This variety in tone leads to a grandly sinister experience that keeps you guessing about what's coming next.

In many ways, MadWorld can be viewed as a spiritual successor to Midway's classic arcade game Smash TV. Your avatar, Jack, is a contestant on a game show televised across the world. The game is simple: Kill for the right to live longer. Jack enters the game at the lowly rank of 256. His mission is to kill his way up to the top seed. Climbing the ranks isn't as simple as killing everyone you see. To earn the right to challenge a ranked opponent, Jack must first earn points by mowing down human fodder. Sure, a chain-saw strike can make a hell of a mess, but it doesn't offer much when it comes to points. Like many games, MadWorld embraces the concept of combos, only in a much more sadistic way. Before you toss someone into a burning trash can or kick them into a jet's afterburners, why not give them a little bling bling like a trumpet jammed into their skull?

If you play this game the way you should, by slaughtering victims in the most foul of ways, it ends up being a nonstop highlight reel. The ranked boss battles are especially entertaining. All of the accelerometer-based shaking and slashing works without a hitch, but the enemy lock-on system is an uncooperative mess, and the grab mechanic is unreliable, often making the simple action of picking up a club seem like you are attempting it blindfolded with oven mitts on.

If you have a stomach for gore and extreme violence, MadWorld is video game popcorn. It pops and sizzles in ways you wouldn't expect, and ends up being a unique treat.

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