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Sunday, April 12, 2009

MadWorld first impressions

So I picked up MadWorld earlier this evening.

Future Shop is currently having an online Easter sale until Monday April 13, 10:00AM (EST), so it was 10% off, plus it recently had a price drop to $39.99 (the sticker underneath had it at $54.99).... making it $35.99 before tax. I chose the pick up in-store option... and was surprised that Future Shop was still open, so I just went down & got it right away. It was nice to use up that credit I got from trading in Ultimate Block Party that was burning a hole in my wallet too.

I've only been playing it a couple hours... it's ok. The thing is, there's been so much press about the game; it's ultra-violence, it's black & white style... that there aren't really any surprises.

Yes, the moves are pretty cool-- there are a bunch of gruesomely entertaining ways to kill your cannon-fodder enemies, and you pile on the moves-- it's very satisfying that way. Right now I just feel like I'm not really getting a real grip on the controls.

It doesn't help that the text is REALLY TINY... especially when you need to read how to do all the moves at the beginning of the game. Like Resident Evil 4, MadWorld is presented in widescreen, so on my 27" 4:3 CRT tv there are bars along the top & bottom of my screen. Coupled with the tiny text, it makes reading it all and navigating the map harder than it should be.

The art style is really distinctive, innovative and stylish as hell. I love the black & white look, with occasional splashes of red for blood & yellow for sound effects. The layout is like a comic book, with panels popping in during cut-scenes. I was a bit concerned at first with the monotone look that everything would blend together too much. There is a bit of that, but they were wise to *not* make the white PURE white; it's more like a dingy off-white which is easier on the eyes.

Most reviewers will probably compare the look of Madworld to Sin City, either the movie or the original comics art by Frank Miller:

But I think the look is more akin to the Deathblow comic art by Jim Lee:

Which admittedly was directly inspired by Miller's Sin City work. In any case, MadWorld's look is really great for the game.... I don't know if it's the monochrome or what, but things look very sharp and I'd say this is one of the better-looking Wii games out there.

This is a bit of a catch-22 situation here: on one hand, this is EXACTLY the type of game the Wii needs, and it should be promoted like crazy. Madworld & games like it deserve to be top-sellers. But on the other hand, I think I would've been more surprised by the over-the-top violence & feel of the game if I hadn't known so much about it beforehand. If I was only told this was an M-rated brawler beat-em-up, and popped it into my Wii... I would've been laughing my ass off at all the gory finishing moves that happen as I played it. It's still fun, but right now it's a bit clunky and I'm still feeling my way around the game.

MadWorld has a very basic menu system: there's the campaign and a multiplayer mode. Aside from audio/video options, that's basically it. The boss battles are integrated into the levels... so if you die at a boss, you're re-doing the entire level again.

The game sort of reminds me of a melee version of one of my fave PSP games, Chili Con Carnage. Both are stylish, mindless action fests that don't take themselves very seriously. My early impression of Madworld is that it's ok. Certainly fun. I hope when I learn all the moves better that things will be more fun.


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