Thursday, 3 October 2013

Retrospective: Madworld (Wii)

Today I'm going to do something a little out of the ordinary. I'm going to look at a Wii game. The Wii itself seems to be a console that divides opinion more than most. While theres people out there that think highly of it and that it deserves its lofty sales figure, Personally I think its the worst console Nintendo have ever made - possibly the worst console Ive ever played. I bought a nice swanky black version about a year ago and sold it about 3 months later. While it has an extensive library, there was only enough decent titles for me to last the few months. In truth, I probably used the GameCube backwards compatibility more. Still, it did have a few gems and I'm going to take a look at one of my favourites on the Wii - Madworld.
 Story (Wikipedia)
Three days before the game's event, the fictional Varrigan City became a target for a group of terrorists called "The Organisers", who severed the island city's transportation and communication ties with the rest of the world, and then released a virus onto its population that would kill them in less than 24 hours. However, the Organisers informed the populace that any person that killed another would receive the vaccine. The city was quickly transformed into the stage of a recurring game show called "DeathWatch", with announcers Howard "Buckshot" Holmes and former DeathWatch fighter Kreese Kreeley. The remaining citizens of Varrigan City as well as new hopefuls become the shows contestants, hoping to become the top-ranked fighter in the game and win a large cash prize. Jack Cayman, a man with a retractable chainsaw built onto one arm, enters the games and manages to gain sponsorship from "Agent XIII". The game's organisers, led by Noa, knows Jack's motive is more than just to win, and learn that Jack works with someone on the outside. They come to learn that Jack was a former marine, police officer, and rogue agent, but now seems intent on a mission. Noa surmises that Jack is after the mayor's daughter, who is still inside the city. While they could kill Jack at any time, they realise he became an audience favourite, with many sponsors and viewers betting on his success, and tries to kill Jack while he is in combat.

A highly controversial release by SEGA when it was due to launch in the UK, almost not receiving a BBFC rating which would have prevented its sale. What was so bad about it?

Playing like, according to Inaba, a 'pick up & play' version of God Hand the game sees you fighting your way through various arena's killing your enemies in the most gratuitous ways you can think of. Most levels appear to be open environments, allowing you to explore them freely within each section, although your progression at certain intervals will be stifled until you manage to acquire enough points to open up a new section. A few levels also have motorcycle sections where you are attacked by numerous enemies as you race down a track or in a small arena. You will occasionally have to complete a boss battle within a time limit, but you will need to acquire enough points to activate the boss battle. The more violent your kills, the more points you get! There are also other challenges, bonuses, or mini-bosses that become unlocked after the you accumulate enough points. A common feature of each of the levels is a "Bloodbath Challenge", In this you have a time limit to complete set objectives or executions for bonus score, An example would be you needing to swing a bat at foes to knock them into a giant dartboard to score extra points, or trap enemies in  front of a speeding train for more extras. Outside of the challenges, you are awarded extra points for using more unusual methods of killing your enemies ie using your environment. An early example in the game would be forcing a tire around your enemy before smashing them into the wall, earning you more points than just knocking them into a wall.How well the game plays will depend solely I suppose on how you perceive the Wii's Nunchuck & WiiMote combo to be of use. Madworld makes little use of the Wii's motion gaming shizz and focuses mainly on using the buttons for input. There is still the occasional flick of the controller needed for QTE's, but the IR sensor aspect doesn't get used at all. A bad thing? Not really. When you factor in that the Wii's control system only has a single analogue, it does give the game a bit more of that SEGA nostalgia factor for me. While I'm no hater of motion controls, I'm actually a big fan of the PSMove when its been used properly, I like how this game eschews that in favour of a more conventional control system.

It sure looks amazing doesn't it? Its style easily sets it apart from almost every other game out there. The look of Madworld is clearly that of a comic or graphic novel (noted by Platinum Games to have been influenced by Sin City), with the red blood emphasising its graphic nature. The game actually features a fairly complex engine that had to be designed to work around some of the Wii's limitations. Featuring a complex lighting system, normal mapping, multiple character textures, fully realised particle system, motion captured animations and full animation blending. That's only some of the engine features. A little pointless for a game that looks like a comic? Not really. To make any game world come to life, regardless of style, this stuff is still needed. I cant help but think sometimes of how glorious this would look running in a higher resolution with some AA. It still looks mighty fine of the Wii though. Not going to be everyones cup of tea visually, but you can't deny that it looks impressive. The soundtrack is almost as good as the visuals. Featuring an octane mix of rap, hip-hop & rock notably, its a very western sound to have in a game developed by Japanese developers. Most tracks were produced in-house by Naoto Tanaka with a few local bands giving some input. While it doesn't quite reach the same heights as the visuals, its still a decent soundtrack and fits the style of the game with ease.
Probably the most fun I had on the Wii, aside from SEGA's other gem - House of the Dead Overkill. While my time with the Wii was short, the few gems I enjoyed like this were welcomed and fairly memorable, but 3 or 4 games can't carry a system for long. With the prices of the Wii as low as £29.99 these days, is it worth picking one up and giving Madworld a run through if you never have? That's a toughie. Madworld is cheap these days, less than £4 easy, so it would combine to the cost of a new retail game on the likes of Ps3/360. With only a few games of note coming out lately, why not? lol But it would be silly to end up lumbered with a Wii Just to play Madworld. Best wait for a WiiU price drop and try it then! I hope if you still have your Wii or have had one, You have at least given this gem a try at some point. Its up there with the other titles Platinum Games have released and is one of the most stylish games you'll play for a long time yet.

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