Friday, April 3, 2009

Madworld - not a Tears for Fears song

I recently spent 100 minutes in Madworld (Platinum Games) and that was enough madness for me.

The island of [Manhattan renamed] has been taken over by a powerful, criminal organization and turned into a massive arena for a Running Man/Most Dangerous Game television show. The player is Jack, the ultimate warrior with a chainsaw attached to his mechanical right arm, infiltrating the game to succeed in a mission that is not entirely clear at first, but it is implied you are working on the side of good.

Hook: Over the top violence in a three color palette – black, white and red - on the most family-friendly of systems, the Wii.

Gameplay: Brawler with lots of waggle and a point system.

Gut feeling: Worth the rental, possibly not worth finishing.

Madworld is a game that has received a lot of attention on game websites. The Sin City style in both colors and brutality on the Wii seems an unlikely combination. One that almost works and is playable is short bursts at best.

I have read reviews that state the violence as being so over the top it’s ridiculous. I think it really sends a message as to how much videogames can desensitize one toward violence.

When I first saw the John Woo movie Hard Bolied in 1994, I nearly couldn’t handle the Hong Kong level of violence. Two characters firing guns across a crowded hospital room made me slightly sick to my stomach. Three years later, I had the chance to watch it again and it did not bother me in the slightest. I even own the Criterion Collection version on DVD. I am sure that part of the problem is that the Hong Kong genre of action movie was new to me, but I know that my tolerance for violence in movies is much higher than it used to be.

As a game, Madworld is Double Dragon, Final Fight or almost a Heavenly Sword style of game. Bad guys keep spawning in a set environment and you have to take them out using your weapons and the things found around you. But instead of the villains falling down and disappearing, you get to finish them off in various brutal ways – and there are many, many ways to send a bad guy to their doom.

When I first went through the training level, I was stunned and slightly grossed out by what was on the screen. Firing up the game a second time had a reduction of surprise, replaced with a feeling of routine. I had begun to ignore the violent acts and concentrate on how to play the game better. I was numb to the visuals and what my character was doing. Desensitization at its best.

One hundred minutes of play (according to my Wii’s clock) was enough time for me to clear four levels and stop. By the end of that time, I could see how someone might want to finish playing it out – but only to satisfy the need to complete a game. Once I turned the game off, I was completely fine with packing it up and shipping Madworld back to Gamefly. Besides, my arms were getting tired from all the waggle involved in proper chainsaw use.

Platinum Games has release an initially shocking game, that has definitely raised a few eyebrows, and a few more hackles. Take a look if you have a Wii and want to kill mooks in large quantities. But do not drop the cash on a game that will only be remembered for the blood and the quantity of f-bombs dropped in a single minute.

Madworld Official Website

No comments:

Post a Comment