Going into Monster Madness I didn’t really know what to think. I had played the demo from Xbox Live and wasn’t that impressed. Upon playing the full retail version of the game I did have more fun with it, but not by much. When you play through Monster Madness you get the sense that it is a really bad B-rated movie and that they are proud of that.
You play as one of four generic characters that are trying to figure out why their world is now filled with zombies, werewolves and things of that nature. You can either play as a “nerd” character, a “goth” character, a “hip” character and the stereotypical “hot” cheerleader character. The dialogue is just as bad no matter what character you choose to play and you will follow the same storyline. There are not different storylines for each character. Monster Madness also appears to be a game that might be fun when you have three other friends over and you can wreak havoc together. Playing this game solo is not fun at all as all you will encounter is an exercise in frustration. First there is the camera control or lack thereof. You are able to rotate the camera 360 degrees but you can not move the camera up or down. That means to successfully fire off a shot at an enemy you need to be almost right up next to them. You can not adjust the camera so you see enemies in the distance which is a major problem, particularly when you have swarms of enemies all trying to attack you at once. Then in addition to the camera you will have to deal with the controls. Players have to use the left analog stick to move around, use the right analog stick to turn and then attacking using the right trigger. The controls feel incredibly clunky and will not always be as responsive as you want it to be, especially in tense moments during a boss fight. You also have this weird camera angle that you have to deal with where you have to spin around using the joysticks and you have an arrow showing which way your character is facing but it can become a real chore when you have an enemy ready to take you out.
As far as the weapons are concerned for the game, you will get a chance to upgrade them as you go along. However in order to do this you will not only need enough money to purchase the upgrade but you will need enough parts so the upgrade can be built. This results in a lot of “fetch” side quests as you will have to run all over the environment and gather items like nails or batteries or something of that nature so that you can use your upgraded weapon. In addition to that the guy who builds your upgrades won’t do business with you while enemies are around so you have to make sure to vanquish all of the enemies in the area…even if the next objective in your quest is to visit that guy. If you happen to get killed in the process of gathering these items for him then get ready to collect them all over again as it won’t save the fact that you acquired these items earlier. There were quite a few times in the park level where I got killed and then had to waste a bunch of time getting objects a second or third time so that I would have enough to upgrade. If you have low health you have to track down a soda machine where you have to deposit money to get your health back up. There were also vending machines for ammunition for any weapons you might have as well. Also, the weapons that you acquire don’t necessarily transfer to other characters. I purchased quite a few of weapons with the “hip” character in one level and then on the next level I wanted to play as the “hot” cheerleader character. However when I did so I noticed the cheerleader character did not have any of the weapons that I had just purchased in the previous level. When I noticed that I reset my game and continued to play with the character that I had all of my weapons with.
Jumping in this game was absolutely horrendous as not only did you have to click the right analog stick to do it, but you couldn’t even make all of the jumps you needed to. There were many times when an item was resting on top of a bush that I needed to get yet for some reason my character couldn’t jump on there to get it. It was a game of pure chance as to whether your character would successfully do it or not. I don’t know if it was a product of not enough testing or bad coding but it was just another example of how tedious the game quickly became. The boss battles in this game were lame where, especially in the harder modes, there was so many things happening on the screen at once that it became almost impossible to do thanks to the control scheme as well as the poor camera angles. I finally got so frustrated with it that I shut my Xbox 360 off and went to do something else.
Now with all of that being said there were a few redeeming parts with the game. There is a part in the park level where you have to cross a river in a swan boat and in doing so you have to battle it out with some undead pirates. You basically have to sink a bunch of pirate ships before you can get to the other side of the lake while dodging the cannonballs that they are shooting at you as well. It was a pretty fun segment that didn’t try to over complicate things and it made me wish the rest of the game was like that. Graphically this game is decent but it is not anything great. The Xbox 360 is definitely capable of much better graphics than you see in this particular title.
There is no online co-op for this game over Xbox Live which is just dumb. This game could have been so much more fun if I could have hooked up with some of my friends online and we blasted our way through the game. The only co-op play is if you have other people over at your place and you are playing on the same Xbox360. There is play over Xbox Live which features ranked as well as player matches. The matches over Xbox Live are simply battles set in an arena type environment with a few of the standard modes like capture the flag and king of the hill. It has nothing to do with the storyline at all. I’m not saying that’s bad, but as I said online co-op would have been nice as well.
After playing the game I feel like the concept of Monster Madness was a sound one. However the majority of most of the things were implemented so poorly that it ceases to live up to any of its potential. If you use this as a party game and only play it when friends come over then you could have a lot of fun with it. Otherwise you are going to get frustrated quickly. The fact that this game is priced at $60 doesn’t help matters either. If this game was priced around the $30 it would be easier to recommend to; however in its current state I really can’t do it. My advice to people is to download the demo off of Xbox Live. If you like the demo then rent the game first to see if you like the final product. If you like it then by all means go out and buy it. However don’t just go out and blindly purchase this game or you could find out that you wasted $60 as well as your time if you are one of those players that didn’t enjoy the experience.
Originally posted on June 11, 2009 on Totally Gaming Network