Reposted Review: Mademan

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(Originally posted on the defunct Blistered Thumbs community blog)

Mademan: Confessions of crime family boredom

PROS: Bachman Turner Overdrive!

CONS: Nearly everything else!

WTF?: Retort Kills? Why couldn’t we just have giblets?

Grand Theft Auto. Mafia. Saints Row.

Games based on the idea of playing the role of an unsavory criminal have been a subset of gaming now for over a decade.

So much so that there were games based upon the Godfather, and Scarface films that inspired them.

So it was with little surprise the now defunct Acclaim would want in on the action.

Mademan digs it’s own grave.

But before they could have their studios finish work on their contribution to the crime drama video game train, they folded. Acclaim disappeared from Glen Clove NY forever, and most of their IP’s went along with them.

Which brings us to today’s lesser known gem Mademan. Actually it’s not a diamond in the rough, but a cubic zirconia. A plastic knock off of several titles all at once. When Acclaim had imploded on itself, several members of the game’s development team reunited under a new name, and with the help of Aspyr Media (The guys who published THE SHIELD, and port most of your favorite games released on Windows, and consoles to the Macintosh) managed to get the game serviceable, and published.

Mademan features a storyline written by David Fischer one of the writers for the original run of Doctor Who. But you would never know it unless you read the game box. It’s cobbled together through slapdash set pieces, and a lot of bad dialogue. It feels more like a Uwe Boll attempt at a crime drama then something a renowned Television writer would come up with. Something feels lost in translation once you experience this game with the knowledge of the writer’s past credits.

Mademan is a single player third person shooter. In it, you play the role of Joey Verola. Joey is apparently a mobster who has a lot going for him until some other mobsters begin shooting him up at a truck stop. The story is told the way a lot of games over the last ten years have, through flashback levels. In one stage you replay Joey’s Vietnam War tour where he meets another solider named Eggs. As you might expect, Eggs follows Joey into the mob life after the war, and in predictable fashion, betrays Joey.

Everything in Mademan feels unfinished. When it doesn’t, it feels like somebody threw out something crude for the sake of being crude. It adds nothing fun or interesting to the experience. One prime example of this is a feature called the Retort Kill. Sometimes, enemies won’t quite die after being gunned down, and will cuss at Joey. Pressing F on your keyboard, will change the camera perspective to a first person view of the enemy’s where you hear Joey swear back at them before finishing them off. When this happens Joey gets some of his health back.

Get used to seeing this guy. You’ll be seeing him, and Paul Sorvino a lot.

While the game does look crisp on a PC running higher resolutions, it’s short of remarkable.

Levels are nothing new or special. Narrow hallways, corridors, and courtyards of window dressing await Joey, and you’ll slog through the set pieces in boredom. Hundreds of the same stereotypical Paul Sorvino inspired suits come out into these courtyards usually staying in one spot firing away until Joey guns them down. While it is true other games walk this path of simplicity, these titles manage to provide hours of fun through humor, and twitch gameplay. Mademan simply does not. When the AI doesn’t stand in one place acting as a bullet sponge, it unexpectedly becomes an expert marksman. It isn’t uncommon to have a play session go from ridiculously easy to stupendously difficult, and back in the span of ten minutes.

Arsenal is what you’d expect, and there is a Gears Of War cover mechanic but neither do anything remarkable. In fact the base level pistol you begin the game with is all you’ll need. In many cases it’s actually the best weapon as it has one of the highest damage levels in the game. If you do manage to get enough enjoyment out of laughing at how bad it is, (and there are some hilariously bad moments to be had here) you will still have to contend with some bugs. Random crashes, sound lock ups, and even complete system hangs mar an already bland experience. If you are morbidly curious you may need to track down the Playstation 2 port, as Mademan will not run on 64 bit Windows.

In closing Mademan is nowhere near as interesting as the story behind it’s ill-fated creation. There are times when you can see glimmers of potential only to run into bugs, and banality. It makes you wonder what could have been had it been cultivated in a much sounder environment. If you’re a semi famous webshow host who can find something funny to say about it Mademan is for you.

For everyone else stay away.

Final Score: 3/10

Perish the thought!

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