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MadWorld First Impression – It’s Bloody, and Good

MadWorld

Introduction:

I really got to start doing more ‘reviews’ than first impressions. My MadWorld review should be ready this week, and I couldn’t begin to tell you how long it will be for Rune Factory: Frontier. Anyway, I was able to get about 4 hours into MadWorld this weekend and so far have come away quite impressed.

The most impressive thing about MadWorld is how great a time I had, going in with low expectations. My low expectations stemmed from how disappointed I was with ‘No More Heroes’. I thought this would be just another dumb beat em’ up with stale gameplay masked in a gore-fest, and excessive swearing. Instead I was met with some tight, fresh gameplay, an interesting control scheme. Not to mention great visuals, audio, and comparable story.

First, I’d like to give kudos to Platinum Games with providing a very simple introduction to MadWorld. I think it’s a lost art in video games to provide a humble start menu. There’s no robust options, or create-a-name, or create-a-character. Just hit the “A” button, and you’re in.

Story – A little Escape from New York, a bit The Running Man, with shades of Metal Gear Solid:

Before you begin playing, you’re introduced to the story behind MadWorld. So far, I’ve been blown away by the story elements provided in MadWorld. Kind of loving the fact that it has a story at all. The narrative reminds me a lot of Metal Gear Solid, only more simplistic. Jack, the protagonist is dropped into what I could only call a mish-mash of ‘Escape from New York’ and ‘The Running Man’. The comparisons to Metal Gear Solid begin with the hero, Jack. He’s quiet, a total badass and also has a past that’s starting to catch up to him. Yet he’s trying to do the right thing against insurmountable odds.

The story that runs alongside Jack is a lot more deep than I was expecting. Jack is dropped into Varrigan City which has been turned into a deadly game show called, Death Watch. It’s here you’ll see the similarities to the 80’s classic ‘The Running Man’. What I’m considering the main villain is the CEO of Death Watch, who has turned Varrigan City into a breeding ground for murdering (hence Escape from New York). Jack has been dropped in undercover to play Death Watch, to thwart the shenanigans. You start out with a sponsor, XIII, who provides hints early on. Things take an interesting twist towards the middle, but I won’t give anything else away. Just know you’ll be somewhat intrigued with the story.

Gameplay – Bloody, creative, and fresh, and a chainsaw:

Once the intro to the story is over, you’ll begin with the gameplay elements of MadWorld. I’ve played to the final level of the third world. So far, everything has been a delight to play through. The controls are the backbone of the gameplay experience, and nearly all of them are executed well. The ‘A’ button is your basic attack, which leads into certain combos. Once you pound on someone enough, you’ll be provided with a few options for finishing moves. You can press the ‘B’ button which generally has you finishing up a bad guy with your chainsaw. Or the ‘A’ button which has you slamming your opponent back and forth. Most of the finishers have a motion attached with them which adds a heightened sensation, dare I say.

MadWorld

If you press the ‘B” button outside of a finisher you’ll whip out your chainsaw. This is your means for quickly dispatching opponents. Your chainsaw is attached to motions as well. Swipe vertically to cut top to bottom, or horizontally to cut your foe right to left. Again, very rewarding. You’ll unlock various weapons as well, which will have different styles attached to them. It keeps things quite fresh, and trying to find more interesting ways to dispatch villains.

The last element of gameplay is the ‘grab’ mechanic. This is where things get really creative, and important. There’s two things you can grab, enemies, and objects. If you grab an enemy, you have the option to throw them, drag them around, or headbutt. Throwing an opponent can clear space for you if you’re being hounded. You can drag your enemy to various locations to utilize some of the level’s surroundings. You can slam them against the prickly ‘Rose Bush’, or toss them into a barrel. There’s level specific additions, so things stay mostly creative in terms of killing options. You pick up certain objects, most of which will go on or through your victim’s head. There’s of course health items as well.

I mentioned that your grab mechanic is important, because your progress through most of MadWorld is based on points. Your points are mostly calculated based on creativity, and depth of your kill. Stick four sign posts through your victim’s head, and slice them in half with a metal garbage bin and you get more points. Or get less points just chainsawing them in half. All the stages have progressed the same, in that you unlock items as you gain points, until you’ll unlock the Bloodbath Challenges, and the boss of the stage.

MadWorld

The Bloodbath Challenges are the mini-games of the stages, but unlike most mini-games these are a blast. The Bloodbath Challenge intros are conducted by the pimptastic host, Black Baron. The intros are quite funny, if a bit sadistic. The Bloodbath Challenges are great because they actually add to your point total, so they mean something to your progression. You’ll have a time limit to conduct various objectives. Throwing enemies under a giant metal press, or golf clubbing them through targets are just a couple of examples.

The boss fights are probably my favorite part of the game so far. For me there are two requirements for a great boss, creativity, and balance of difficulty. MadWorld has exceeded expectations in both of those elements. The bosses for the most part haven’t been all that creative in terms of personality, but make up that with looks and strategy. Each boss I’ve fought against has had different patterns I’ve had to learn, coupled with some puzzles you’ll have to figure out as well. The balance of difficulty has been solid as all my encounters have gotten progressively harder as I’ve moved on.

Visuals – It’s Sin City, only with more red:

After the gameplay, another element of MadWorld I was impressed with is the visuals. Going into the game, I wasn’t really sure what to think of the black, white, and red motif. It’s definitely ‘Sin City’ inspired, but holds its own in terms of style. The textures are smooth, and the levels are filled with tons of detail. Feels a lot like a well drawn comic book. The game is truly appreciated once it gets set into motion. All of the animations are tight, and more crisp. Even with the most amount of enemies I’ve seen on screen, there hasn’t been a hiccup in frame rate. The kill effects, specifically the blood are some of the most over the top you’ll see in a game. On par, or even better than the chainsaw and curb stomp kills in Gears of War.

Audio and Music – Too much commentating, with too few lines; music rocks though:

The visuals are a delight, and that can be said for half of the audio. Unfortunately, the commentating is a bit of a letdown. Just like all other parts of the levels, the commentating is specific to the part of the game your in. Even with this, it begins to get repetitive. I appreciate the mood they’re trying to set with the cheesy, grandiose nature of the commentary it just gets old the longer you’re in a level. The music however makes up for the commentating. Again, it’s all specific to the level you’re in. In fact, you could turn off the commentary and just get caught up in the music. It’s all adrenaline inducing, and so far has fit in well with the levels they’re attached to.

The Bad – Have to like a certain style; it’s a blast but more than likely a short one:

The negatives I’ve found with MadWorld, are specific to length, and choice of style. Judging by amount of levels per world, I’m a little more than halfway in with only 3:50 clocked so far. There’s a multiplayer segment of the game which I haven’t tried yet, but doubt it will be enough. If the game released at $39.99, or $29.99, I would be more lenient. Unfortunately, in this economy people are looking for more depth in their video game purchases.

If you like a more linear beat-em-up experience, MadWorld might not be for you. Each level is basically a playground for you to romp around through. You progress by points, so everything is unlocked by you taking on hordes of enemies and killing them creatively. This might be great for some, but for those who like to just progress and fight ‘through’ a stage it might turn you off.

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So, who’s played through MadWorld already? I’d like to get your feedback, and let me know what you thought of the game. Is the comparison to MGS too much? Feel free to blast away.

Split Decision – MadWorld vs. Rune Factory: Frontier

They say that a man is defined by the tough choices he makes in life. I’m not sure who said that, maybe I just made it up but I’ve run into a tough decision. One that separates the men from the boys.

Due to certain parts of my budget being more important than others, I can’t buy MadWorld and Rune Factory: Frontier. For the immediate future at least. This week MadWorld released, and next week (March 17th) Rune Factory: Frontier comes out. There can only be one added to my collection; I just can’t decide which one it should be.

MadWorld

MadWorld

MadWorld is game I’ve been brimming about since I heard about last year, and one I’ve been greatly anticipating. If you don’t believe me, just read the previous posts I’ve made about it.

MadWorld Releases Today – Review Roundup (and a rant)
MadWorld Death Watch Episode 3
New MadWorld Videos – Let Me Learn Ya Somethin’
Evolution of MadWorld
MadWorld TV Trailer (Part 2)
New York Comic Con Gameplay Videos Of MadWorld & The Conduit
MadWorld – TV Sports Trailer (w/ Expert Analysis)
Top 5 Anticipations For 2009
Happy Holidays From MadWorld – Trailer
Top 5 Game Releases For 2009
Top 5 2008 E3 Moments

I’ve hyped the game quite a bit on the site, but now that its released does it live up to the talk?

From everything I’ve been reading, MadWorld is all the things we hoped to find within its black/white/red walls. Here’s a list of reasons to buy the game, and not to buy based on reviews thus far:

Reasons to buy: More blood than Dracula could drink in a night. The violence is couple with great controls. The graphics look solid, and animations are supposedly varied and provide some epic moments. Haven’t played a good beat em’ up in a long time.

Reasons not to buy: My first MadWorld adventure, according to reviewers will end at around 6-7 hours. Has some quirky control issues, but aren’t very rampant.

Rune Factory: Fronter

Rune Factory: Frontier

Rune Factory: Frontier is a little harder to judge than MadWorld mostly because it isn’t out yet. That and not much has been released about Rune Factory: Frontier. The best place I’ve been able to obtain information about RF:F is from its official site.

There’s also been a trailer released…

Ok, let’s get to the gritty about RF:F:

Reasons to Buy: Rune Factory series has been solid on the DS. The Rune Factory site shows that the game might have great depth. Harvest Moon based games provide a long lasting experience that requires a good amount of game time dedication. The ESRB rating states that ‘use of alcohol’ is back in Harvest Moon

Reasons not to Buy: Haven’t played any of the Rune Factory DS games yet (might not like them). Harvest Moon based games have been very hit or miss since the Nintendo 64 era.

Until reviews start coming in for Rune Factory: Frontier it’s going to remain a split decision for about a week. My first reaction is to just rent MadWorld since it can be beat in 5-7 hours. But maybe it’s worth more than one play through. We’ll just have to wait and see if RF: F impresses like I’m hoping it will.

MadWorld Releases Today – Review Roundup (and a rant)

MadWorld Logo

Today marks the official release of MadWorld, which means many Wii gamers are excitedly anticipating playing some ‘Man Darts’. Before we get into the post let me make a brief statement about ‘release dates’.

I wish retail outlets, and publishers could get their act together about when a game actually will be readily available to the general public. Too many times a game has an “official” release date, but isn’t available for purchase until the day after. I used to work at Best Buy, and this not only annoyed the customers but me as well. So, online gaming publications, and huge gaming publishers if you’re reading, try and provide better information to consumers about when they can actually purchase a game. I bring this up because in Best Buy’s print ad, it says the game isn’t available until Weds.

Ok, rant over; now on to the good news…

With the official release date upon us, MadWorld has been receiving reviews. Most of them have been positive. Here are a few thoughts from various sites.

IGN – 9.0/10
: “I realize that not everybody will find MadWorld’s unique visual and aural presentation appealing, but to me, the game is an instant collector’s item and a Wii showpiece, not just for its amazing style, but for its label-busting content. Anybody who says Nintendo’s console is just for kids will see things very differently after a few chainsaw- induced mutilations. More importantly, though, MadWorld does not place emphasis on style over gameplay, so there’s plenty of fun, smart mechanics to back up the overwhelmingly slick look and sound of the title. “

Nintendo Power – 90/100
: “Although the game is unquestionably brutal, the violence is so over-the-top that it’s more humorous than gruesome…For any hardcore gamer, this one is not to be missed.”

Eurogamer – 7/10 : “Still, as a piece of violent spectacle MadWorld is unrivalled. The creativity of PlatinumGames in providing ever more unlikely and delicious ways to kill and maim Jack’s antagonists boggles and delights the mind at some deep, base level. And so, no matter how much the schoolboy-humour commentary grates, no matter how repetitive the bits in between the set-pieces start to feel and no matter how frustrating the later levels become, MadWorld provides a rush of blood to the head almost as often as it provides a rush of blood to the pavement.”

It seems as though everything we hoped and dreamed MadWorld would be is coming true. Over-the-top violence, and style that isn’t hampered down with contrived gameplay. Just tell me where to sign up….

Just make sure I’m given the date when I can actually pick the game up(ok, NOW the rant is over).

MadWorld Death Watch Episode 3

The third installment of the ‘Death Watch’ series has been released. So far, this video has shown the most out of the entire series. In fact I’d almost say it shows too much. They give away a large amount of what the boss fights are going to be. So, if you don’t want to see that then steer clear of the play button.

New MadWorld Videos – Let Me Learn Ya Somethin’

With less than a month until MadWorld’s release date, we can expect a ton of media to come our way between now and then. SEGA has provided a slew of gameplay videos, and introduces a new character, The Black Baron.

He’s going to learn ya something.

These are the first videos to show extensive gameplay, and they don’t disappoint. I am left puzzled however. How does only a certain part of a subway train leave a bloody mess when someone is thrown up against it?

*WARNING* – Offensive content on just about every front is shown in the videos.


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Evolution of MadWorld

It would be an understatement to say that MadWorld is one of the most anticipated games releasing this year on the Nintendo Wii. With the art style that Platinum Games is implementing, many are waiting to see if the black, white, and red motif turns out to work well. I say there’s a good chance it will.

If you’re really interested in the art direction that MadWorld took during its development, check out this blog. It’s from lead designer, Masaki Yamanaka; he explains how the evolution of the art behind ‘Jack’, the protagonist in MadWorld started and finally ended up with the character we’ll see in game.

Very interesting read if you’re into concept art, and art direction.

Early Jack

MadWorld Early Jack

Second Jack

MadWorld Second Jack

Final Jack

MadWorld Second Jack