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This week, Zero Punctuation reviews MadWorld.

Transcript Edit

Why will no one believe me when I say the Wii is a lump of owl pellets? I'm starting to feel like Charlton Heston at the end of Soylent Green, running around yelling, "The Wii is made of poo, stop making games for it!" While developers lie around in 360-degree cinemas watching videos of nature's splendor (increasingly obscure movie reference). It'd be wonderfully convenient to just abandon one console as a dedicated casual gaming kiddie platform and let the others concentrate on the blood and titties. But games of a traditionally hardcore bent continue to be produced for it.

Does it really not strike anyone else as a bit of a cultural step backwards that the release of a violent game is considered a big deal just because it's on the Wii? Mature games stopped being novel around the Maastricht Treaty. Not that the word "mature" can be applied to MadWorld without severe qualification. The game involves a televised battle royale between a bunch of 'roided up rodeo clowns being infiltrated by the motorbike riding, cigar chomping, chainsaw wielding, tiny penis compensating hero Jack: whose task is to win over the television watching public by carving the entire contestant population into sauerkraut. MadWorld is mature in the sense that it's one of those curious cases of a game that approaches gore with the same childlike glee with which a schoolboy approaches trapped insects then paradoxically forbids children to play it. It could also be considered mature in the sense that it is presented in an idiosyncratic cell-shaded black and white visual style. But one suspects that this came out of artistic statement second and compensating for Wii graphics limitations first.

As is presumably intended, the presentation reminds me very much of Japanese comic books, because I can never tell what the fuck's supposed to be going on in those either. There really needs to be a name for this sub-genre so I'm going to make one up: Spectacle Fighters. Games in which most of the standard baddies are about as effectual as a panda's love spuds and the emphasis is less on them being challenges to get past and more on them being squirty punching bags to be dispatched in the most spectacular ways. Devil May Cry, Viewtiful Joe, God Hand, and, arguably Manhunt are the foamy-mouthed horses that already populate this rowdy stable.

MadWorld consists of a succession of largely non-linear urban playgrounds featuring a number of unfenced death traps that somehow went unnoticed by the civilian populace. And you only get to move on once you've scored enough points. The more punishment you bestow on a dude, the more points you get for his death. Fertile ground for all sorts of child-warping violence. But they don't really make the most of it. The tutorial shows you how to plonk a tire on someone, jam a sign through their eye and hang them up on a big spiky coat rack. And give or take a few other traps that pretty much all you'll ever do. Walking around carrying dazed dipshits looking for something fun to through them at is a slow and flow breaking process. Seeing one guy disappear into red particle clouds on a rotating blade arrangement, seen them all. And the novelty is quickly licked away to reveal the harsh grindy center.

On top of that, the point system often seems to be completely arbitrary or at least very little to do with the actual impressiveness of a kill. Yawn-a-rific blowing people up with explody barrels seems to award far more points then, say, holding them against the side of a speeding train until their back resembles a well tossed salad. Turns out we're really only in this for the boss fights. All of which are at least creative in theme if not gameplay, because I beat every single one of them by following the ancient eastern philosophy of dodge then chainsaw up the strap.

But they're let down by the controls. "Oooh! Yahtzee hates the controls in a Wii game? What a bold defiance of established trends. (Sarcastic applause)." Fuck you buddy, I'll stop ragging on the Wii motion sensor when a heavenly choir descends to earth to fix the fucking thing! You see, MadWorld 's stable mates, Devil May Cry and God Hand in particular, called for a certain amount of finesse. A split second between button presses could mean the difference between glory and sucking on scythe blades. And there is no finesse to Wiimote flailing, not when you can scarf down a bowl of Fistios by the time the console even registers the fucking movement. I'm also convinced that the targeting system is programmed to completely not work whenever the game feels like being a dick, which is all the time.

On the other hand, the dialogue and voice acting's good, with the omnipresent, fast-talking, television commentators often being a joy to listen to. But to hop instantly back onto the first hand, they're set up to spout a line for every particular in-game event. And it seems someone forgot that some events, like, say, killing a guy with a stick, might occur more than once. I like the idea of in-game commentary, but the fuckers repeat themselves more often than an amnesiac in an ear hospital.

And the levels seem to get shorter and less interesting as time goes on, up until a piss poor final boss fight and dull ending. If you can imagine a big red balloon with the air slowly being let out with a descending, "Pffffffffffffffffffft", before shriveling down to nothing with a final pathetic high pitched squit; That's basically MadWorld. Also someone's written a load of swearwords on the balloon with a dry erase marker.

At the end of the day MadWorld is a six to eight hour game with enough ideas to fill a three hour game. It's rather cynically aware that a spot of the old ultraviolence is a rarity on the Wii and seems to be taking refuge in that. I'm not against violence. I'm against censorship because withholding Cock-Hemorrhage 4 from your kids only makes them more interested. If you stop making a big deal of it they'd probably swiftly recognize it for the giggling vacuum that it is.

Once you've seen enough samey splatter to get desensitized, MadWorld fails to stand up by itself. But it is fun for a while and the biggest problem I have is the fact that it's on the Wii. Come on developers, I know all that sweet Nintendo money is attractive for buying food and shit. But surely you're not that attached to your kids. And if you are there's always Pedigree Chum.

AddendaEdit

He's a mad, mad, mad, mad game critic: Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw

This game is presumably unrelated to the Tears for Fears song of pretentious Gears of War trailer fame

Surely a chainsaw arm would make it difficult to do your flies up

ScreenshotsEdit

MadWorld 1

Spectacle Fighter

MadWorld 2

They're set up to spout a line for every particular in-game event

MadWorld 3

At the end of the day

External LinksEdit

Episodes
2007 - 2010
2007
Q3 The Darkness Demo · Fable: The Lost Chapters · Zero Punctuation (Episode) · Heavenly Sword and Other Stuff · Psychonauts · Console Rundown · BioShock · Tomb Raider: Anniversary · Manhunt · Peggle
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2008
Q1 Super Mario Galaxy · Silent Hill: Origins · Crysis · The Witcher · Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles · Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare · SimCity Societies · Yahtzee Goes to GDC · Uncharted: Drake's Fortune · Devil May Cry 4 · Burnout: Paradise · Turok · Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure
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2009
Q1 Awards for 2008 · Tomb Raider: Underworld · Far Cry 2 · Gears of War 2 · LittleBigPlanet · Thief: The Dark Project · Skate 2 · F.E.A.R. 2 · Spider-Man: Web of Shadows · The House of the Dead: Overkill · 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand · Resident Evil 5
Q2 X-Blades/Halo Wars · Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars · MadWorld · Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X · Siren: Blood Curse · The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena · Valkyria Chronicles · Velvet Assassin · Duke Nukem Forever · Bionic Commando · InFamous · The Second Annual E3 Hype Massacre · Prototype
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Q4 Scribblenauts · Wet · Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story · Brutal Legend · Washington D.C. · Uncharted 2: Among Thieves · Dragon Age: Origins · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 · Assassin's Creed 2 · Left 4 Dead 2 & New Super Mario Bros. Wii · Demon's Souls · Holiday 2009 · The Saboteur
2010
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Q3 No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle · Super Mario Galaxy 2 · Singularity · Crackdown 2 · DeathSpank & Limbo · Shadow of the Colossus · Split Second: Velocity · Transformers: War for Cybertron · Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days · Mafia II · Metroid: Other M · Video Game Voters Network · Amnesia: The Dark Descent
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2011 - 2014
2011
Q1 Top 5 of 2010 · World of Warcraft: Cataclysm · Fable III · Minecraft · A Shadow's Tale · Dead Space 2 · DC Universe Online · MindJack · Two Worlds II · Bulletstorm · Killzone 3 · Kirby's Epic Yarn · Dragon Age II
Q2 Pokémon White · Yakuza 4 · Crysis 2 · Nintendo 3DS · Portal 2 · Castlevania: Symphony of the Night · Mortal Kombat · Brink · L.A. Noire · The Witcher 2 · Hunted: The Demon's Forge · Duke Nukem Forever (for real this time) · InFamous 2
Q3 Alice: Madness Returns · Shadows of the Damned · F.E.A.R. 3 · The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D · Call of Juarez: The Cartel · Bastion and From Dust · Catherine · Red Faction: Armageddon · Deus Ex · Deus Ex: Human Revolution · Driver: San Francisco · Dead Island · Resistance 3
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2012
Q1 Serious Sam 3: BFE · Top 5 of 2011 · Super Mario 3D Land & Rayman Origins · Sonic Generations · Star Wars: The Old Republic · Amy · Resident Evil: Revelations · Darkness 2 · Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning · NeverDead · Syndicate · Mass Effect 3 · Twisted Metal
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2013
Q1 Top 5 of 2012 · Paper Mario: Sticker Star · Black Knight Sword & Hotline Miami · Anarchy Reigns · DMC: Devil May Cry · The Cave · Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch · Dead Space 3 · Aliens: Colonial Marines · Crysis 3 · Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance · Tomb Raider · SimCity
Q2 The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct · BioShock Infinite · Lego City Undercover · Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon · Injustice: Gods Among Us · Star Trek · Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon · System Shock 2 · Metro: Last Light · Next Gen Buyer's Guide · Fuse · Remember Me · E3 2013
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2014
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Q4 D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die · Hyrule Warriors · Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor · Alien Isolation · The Evil Within · Bayonetta 2 · Sunset Overdrive · Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare · Assassin's Creed: Unity · Far Cry 4 · Dragon Age: Inquisition · Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric · Top 5 Games of 2014
2015 - 2017
2015
Q1 The Talos Principle · Elite: Dangerous · Five Nights at Freddy's and This War of Mine · Lords of the Fallen · Saints Row: Gat out of Hell · Dying Light · Grim Fandango · Evolve · The Order: 1886 · The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D · Resident Evil Revelations 2 · Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number & Ori and the Blind Forest
Q2 Battlefield: Hardline · Bloodborne · Half-Life 2 Update · Axiom Verge & Stealth Inc 2 · Mortal Kombat X · Grand Theft Auto Online · Broken Age: Act 2 · Wolfenstein: The Old Blood · Cyberpunk Double · The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt · Splatoon · Hatred · E3 2015
Q3 Alone in the Dark: Illumination · Batman: Arkham Knight · Yoshi's Woolly World · Cave Story · Godzilla · Rocket League & Tembo the Badass Elephant · King's Quest: A Knight to Remember · Nom Nom Galaxy & Freedom Planet · Everybody's Gone To The Rapture · Volume · Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain · Mad Max · Gears of War Ultimate Edition · Until Dawn
Q4 Super Mario Maker · SOMA · Rock Band 4 · Assassin's Creed Syndicate · Halo 5: Guardians · Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 · Rise of the Tomb Raider · Fallout 4 · Star Wars: Battlefront · Just Cause 3 · Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water
2016
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2015 · Devil's Third · Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam · Assassin's Creed Chronicles · Xenoblade Chronicles X · The Witness & Bombshell · Gravity Rush · XCOM 2 · Firewatch & Layers of Fear · Far Cry Primal · Stardew Valley & SUPERHOT · The Division · Salt and Sanctuary
Q2 Republique · Shadow Warrior · Quantum Break · Dark Souls III · Ratchet & Clank · Star Fox Zero · Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door · Uncharted 4: A Thief's End · Doom · Homefront: The Revolution · Overwatch & Battleborn · Mirror's Edge: Catalyst · E3 2016
Q3 Mighty No. 9 · Inside & Shadow of the Beast · The Technomancer · Furi & Song of the Deep · I Am Setsuna · Headlander & Quadrilateral Cowboy · Quake · No Man's Sky · Grow Up · Deus Ex: Mankind Divided · Metroid Prime: Federation Force · The Curious Expedition & Mother Russia Bleeds · ReCore
Q4 Capcom Five · Clustertruck & Lichtspeer · Paper Mario: Color Splash · Mafia III · Gears of War 4 · PlayStation VR · Battlefield 1 · Titanfall 2 vs Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare · Dishonored 2 · WATCH DOGS 2 · Final Fantasy XV · The Last Guardian
2017
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2016 · Let It Die · Dead Rising 4 · Hitman · Gravity Rush 2 · Resident Evil 7 · Yakuza 0 · Nioh · For Honor · Nintendo Switch & Breath of the Wild · Horizon Zero Dawn · Nier Automata · Ghost Recon Wildlands
Q2 Mass Effect Andromeda · Yooka-Laylee · Persona 5 · Remastered Editions · Outlast 2 · Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 · Prey · Wilson's Heart · The Surge · Injustice 2 · Vanquish · E3 2017 · Strafe
Q3 Get Even · Hollow Knight / Dead Cells · Fifth Console Generation · The End is Nigh, and Yonder: Cloud Catcher Chronicles · Pyre · Splatoon 2 · Hellblade · Agents of Mayhem · Sonic Mania · Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle · Destiny 2 · Metroid: Samus Returns
Q4 Knack 2 and SteamWorld Dig 2 · Cuphead · Hob and A Hat in Time

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