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If you need a reason to checkout this preview, let me provide it for you with two words: chainsaw arm...
After nearly two and a half years in the shops, Nintendo's Wii has certainly built up a solid back catalogue of games. The strongest of the bunch are first party releases such as Super Mario Galaxy, Mario Kart Wii, Metroid Prime 3, or Wii Sports, which are as clean as the driven snow where violence is concerned. Nintendo always had a family friendly outlook, but this latest console generation has seen the games giant re-engineer its image to become the golden boy of the gaming world.
Third party publishers have latched onto the Wii's 'causal' appeal with huge success in terms of sales, but considerably less success in terms of critical acclaim. As money makes the world go round, these squeaky clean (and often shallow) titles form a sizeable portion of the more forgettable games on the Wii. With the exception of two Resident Evil titles and No More Heroes there are very few violent games on the Wii.
MadWorld will be one of the first games to show lashings of blood and gore on the Wii. However, the game certainly isn't serious about its violent content - on the contrary in fact. Instead, it uses humour to lighten the gory content in the game and (hopefully) stop the people with pitchforks and lanterns from ripping it to pieces in the mainstream press.
The graphics looked sublime as far as we could tell during our brief first look. They utilise cel-shaded visual effects, which produce the style of graphic novel artwork, and a very specific graphic novel at that. The whole game is in black and white, with the exception of blood and the onomatopoeic words that fly off various violent acts (Krash!, Bang! etc.). Ring any bells?
If you haven't figured it out yet then you may as well get your coat - it's Frank Miller's Sin City of course. Just like in Miller's iconic graphic novel, MadWorld's colour scheme makes the scarlet colour of blood stand out in all its gory glory, casting even more prominence on the violent acts of Jack, the game's protagonist.
"Actually, I am Frank Miller," joked the game's Director, Shigenori Nishikawa, when we asked how much Mad World was influenced by Sin City. "Obviously the influence of Frank Miller is big given the style, but that's not the only thing we've been looking at. We've looked at a lot of different American comics and comic creators, and used that for inspiration and style.
"It would be really hard to find someone who considers themselves a creator, who doesn't like Frank Miller," Nishikawa-san continued. "So whenever you look for new art styles, something that has a new sense to it, Frank Miller's name comes up because he has such a unique style and sense of art."
Our demonstration showed Jack dishing out some pretty nasty attacks on his enemies, such as nailing them to walls punctuated with spikes, ripping out their hearts before squashing the still beating organ in his hands, and impaling their heads with signposts. The last fatality move of those three finishes with the impaled enemy staggering about in a daze before collapsing into a bloody heap.
And then there's Jack's chainsaw arm. Everybody likes a chainsaw as a secondary weapon - a point clearly demonstrated in Gears of War - but with MadWorld you'll be controlling the chainsaw with carving swipes of the Wii remote. We just hope that the game is rumble compatible, with the Wii Remote rumbling more intensely the deeper you dice up Jack's foes (Gwynne's a nice chap really- ed).
While we don't necessarily need an excuse to inflict painful deaths in a game world straight out of a graphic novel, it seems that Platinum Games has provided a storyline to provide a reason for the ever present blood splatterings. While details were thin on the ground during the demonstration, Nishikawa-san did take a couple of moments to explain the story after our first look at the game:
"As far as the main story goes in MadWorld, the main character, Jack, is actually taking part in a games show called Deathwatch. He has personal reasons for taking part in this game show that will be revealed in the game but as he plays through the game, various missions will be relayed to the player as a part of this game show. There are various rules to the game show and that's what determines how the player progresses through the game."
Nishikawa-san did demonstrate one of MadWorld's mini-games to us during the demo, and it certainly had a game show feel to it. In this mini-game called Bloodbath Challenge, Jack is placed in front of a huge dart board with enemy NPCs all around him. Using a baseball bat, Jack has to hit these NPCs into the air and onto the dartboard, with the obvious aim being to score as many points as possible.
So, there you have it. Just like we said at the beginning, there's a whole load of violence in this game but it's served with a large dose of humour, thereby making everything that little bit less serious. It's not quite the fun-for-the-whole-family game that Nintendo champions these days, but it's by no means perverse or depraved.
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