In order to actually communicate all this wanton dismemberment and murder without getting outright banned though, Madworld
uses a visually distinct art style that’s similar to a penguin that’s been kicked to death; it’s black, white and red. You’ve probably already noticed.
Again though, this art style isn’t just used as a cover to the violence – like the gameshow element of the story, it ties directly into the gameplay and Madworld
is heavily inspired by comic book culture.
uses a series of comic book design elements to great affect, such box-outs and split-screens. Pull of a particularly impressive move and the you’ll see the sound effects wrote across the screen onomatopoeically in yellow text. It gives the game a distinctive sense of humour and another stick with which to poke at the standards of society. It’s OK as long as it doesn’t look too real, right?
As for the moves themselves, it has to be said that the folks at Sega have gone to an almost obscene amount of effort in order to create a huge roster of special moves and fatalities. Enemies, many of whom are insultingly easy in the first levels of the game, can be easily picked up and ripped apart, but the real fun lies in trying to find the longest and most elaborate deaths.
There are items and special moves for players to find in each and every area. You get plenty of time to do so too as the parts of the game we saw were made mainly of linked arenas. In order to progress you had to survive and score a set amount of points before facing down a boss and moving on.
One of the more fleshed out areas of the game that we saw was set in a train station, which had extra spike-covered trains called in when you reach a certain score. There were clouds of barbed wire littering the pillars, electric rails on the ground and more metal studs on the walls than you’d find in a fetish club. It was totally insanitary and gross, but brilliant too. Everything becomes a weapon, whether you’re holding a baddies face against a moving train, or dropping a barrel over his head and flinging him into a spiked rosebush.
There are minigames too, including one we saw which was based around picking up enemies as fast as you could and launching them into jet engines to throw up a blizzard of blood.
Unfortunately though, we did quickly get the feeling that Madworld
relies a bit too much on the novelty of its massacres. The problem with novelties is that they quickly wear out, rapidly becoming a bit vapid and dull. While Madworld
certainly does a great job of moving the action on as quickly as possible, even in the hours we spent with the game we found that we were easily fatigued by it all.
There eclectic art style too, which is at first striking and engaging, can quickly become obscured and infuriating. There are some scenes and actions that are more difficult to discern than the instructions for an IKEA cabinet might be if you didn’t have an IKEA cabinet, but did have five wet sponges and a ladle. And the manual is written in Chinese.
While the graphics definitely don’t make the game hard to play for the most part though, they do require certain things of the player. There’s no indication of depth or tone in the game, so if you want to see Madworld
as anything more than a flat image then you’ll need to relax your eyes a bit and take some time to accustom.
Even then, spotting items and enemies can sometimes be difficult for the way the background and foregrounds blur together – though how much of an issue that’s really going to be is something we’ll only know when we play the full game.
Madworld is scheduled for release in March 2009 and will be a Wii exclusive game, published by Sega