US Release: March 10 TBC
UK Release: March 20
After grabbing a cornet, ramming it up a nearby enemy’s backside, then punching their face to make it play, it strikes you that MadWorld isn’t an inhibited game.
Jack grabs another foe and headbutts him so hard that his face explodes, then rams another on to a wall spike four or five times, then slices off the legs of yet another in a fluid combination. The legless one’s still alive. No worries. A big ‘FINISHER’ icon appears, and a single button press executes a headstomp that makes Marcus Fenix look like a sissy.
Fresh from being passed with no cuts for its UK release, MadWorld’s living up to its name with relish. The structure of the bloodletting is now a little clearer: a mix of The Running Man and Smash TV in open environments that sees Jack accumulating points by dispatching cannon fodder.
A certain total is required to tempt the arena’s boss into the ring, and on the way weapons and other bonuses are unlocked at intervals – including, in our playthrough, a pair of vicious blades that change Jack’s fighting style, lopping off limbs with glee, and a suitcase full of cash that, when smashed, attracts enemies together with a flurry of dollars.
The basic enemies are cannon fodder of the extreme variety, wandering around the environments like lost lobotomy patients and rarely throwing a punch. Their function isn’t to challenge the player so much as tempt outstanding feats of violence and maximise scoring: simply run around slicing heads off and you might be playing for a while; stick a tyre around an enemy then ram him into a flaming bin head-first, before knocking two more enemies into a spiked wall with said bin, and the boss will be turning up sharpish.
As your score increases, the more dangerous opponents enter the arena along with a commensurate increase in points potential, the earliest example of which is a Piggsy-inspired psychopath, replete with chainsaw.
It’s not wrist-mounted, though. Holding B revs up Jack’s own speciality weapon, while flicks of the Remote are used for hooks and uppercuts, the motions reliably registering in order to slice through enemy torsos like butter. The more brutal finishers require you to follow Remote and Nunchuk directions, but there’s a generous execution window and they never feel obtrusive or unnecessary.
Our key concern with MadWorld has to be whether the sheep-like standard enemies and repeated moves grow boring, or whether the combat system’s score-attack nature is imbued with the over-the-top magic exhibited by Viewtiful Joe and God Hand.
After playing an all-but-complete build, we’re plumping for the latter. After all, we don’t want to get Jack angry. We wouldn’t like him when he’s angry.