Tuesday, March 17, 2009

"The dreams in which I'm [killing] are the best I've ever had..."

Anger management therapists should begin purchasing Wiis and copies of PlatinumGames MadWorld. It's a perfectly safe way to work out any aggression you might have. It's a game that gives you more points for more grotesque and contrived executions. It's stylish, and keeps its tongue firmly planted in its cheek, in case anyone had any ideas about taking it seriously. In short, it's right up my alley.

MadWorld is, as I've covered, the first release from PlatinumGames. In it, you play as Jack (just Jack), a new contestant on "DeathWatch" (what's with this developer and not knowing where the space bar is?) an Escape from New York-cum-Running Man style gameshow. The producers of "DeathWatch" have eliminated all paths in and out of the fictional Varrigan City, and are now running a gameshow which sees killing as the main objective for rich sadists the world over.

The plot is slightly more than window dressing, as it does go above and beyond the typical action game story. It involves more than a few twists, and can be credited to Yasumi Matsuno, who previously penned the much vaunted Vagrant Story for the original Playstation. Ultimately, though, the action takes center stage, and you can skip all the story sequences and get straight to the killing without feeling like you're missing much.

I can't say I recommend that, though. The game's script and voice acting are very well done. The cut scenes are very stylish, and made to look like a (Frank Miller) comic book. Steven Jay Blum of "Cowboy Bebop" fame provides the voice for Jack, and does a superb job. The rest of the cast is very nearly as good. Greg Proops ("Whose Line is it Anyway?") and John DiMaggio ("Futurama") provide side-splitting commentary, and though I've heard complaints of sports game-esque repetition, I only encountered it a few times (mostly during boss fights and Bloodbath Challenges). Danny "Bobby Budnick" Cooksey ("Salute Your Shorts," T2) even lends his voice to a young doctor Jack saves early on.

Now, the killing. As I said, the scoring system rewards you for the more creative kills. Many modern games have eshewed scoring, but MadWorld puts it to great use. Each level is like a mini-sandbox. You're dropped in, and you have access to all of the areas right away. This is where scoring comes in. The higher the score you get, the more deathtraps start up and items become available, with which you can unleash additional mayhem. Once your score gets high enough, bonus games called Bloodbath Challenges and eventually the boss fight for that area become available.

And the boss fights do not disappoint. Both the mini and main bosses for each area are creative and unique. They have unique patterns and unique methods for the quickest dispatch. Of course, each bossfight ends with a spectacular death scene, which uses the Wiimote to immerse you in the killing.

With that in mind, the game does avoid too much waggle, and stupid quicktime events. There are times that something similar to a QTE appears, but the motions always make sense (slash to lock chainsaws with a mini-boss) and aren't just an arbitrary combination of buttons, a la God of War. Waggle is only used for high power attacks and finishing moves, so your arm won't get too tired during combat.

Overall, this game is easily one of the five best Wii games available. For M-Rated fare, it's second only to Goichi Suda's amazing No More Heroes. Run, don't walk to a copy of this game. Especially if you have anger management issues.

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