|System: PS3||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Psyonix||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: SouthPeak||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Aug. 5, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4 (16 online)||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Jonathan Marx
Monster Madness: Battle for Suburbia originally released for the Xbox 360 and PC more than a year ago to less than critical acclaim. In fact, the game was a rather mediocre offering from South Peak. Nevertheless, the game garnered enough support to warrant the re-development and release of an enhanced version for the PS3. Not surprisingly, on the whole, Monster Madness: Grave Danger is not much better than the initial entry in the series. Even the greater variety of mini-games, revamped controls, and expanded, online multiplayer options can't save Grave Danger from a date with the bargain bin.
Grave Danger is nearly identical to Battle for Suburbia. The campaign mode can be played as a single-player or with up to three other friends. There are still four characters to choose from, which run the high school gamut from nerd and Goth, to bimbo and skater. Players will take these unlikely heroes through six monster-laden levels on a quest to save their once peaceful town. Along the way, players will utilize the debris and their environment to off the vast legions of undead that thwart their advance. That is, until enough parts and monster tokens are found to create and sup-up the various weapons available in the game.
Unfortunately, these weapons still feel quite underpowered. Whacking a zombie over the head with one swing from toilet plunger is still a lot more effective than dual-wielding two nail guns. And the vehicles, while devastating to the unnatural horde, still feel quite unwieldy and are plagued by overly sensitive collision detection. Nevertheless, collecting weapon parts gives the game a nice scavenger hunt feel, and the inclusion of vehicles does help to break up the standard combat sequences.
The game utilizes the top-down angled view of popular arcade shooters. As such, the developers decided to change the control scheme just a bit this time around to capitalize on that feel. Instead of pulling the triggers to activate your ranged weapons, Grave Danger maps them to the right analog stick, while maintaining movement control with the left stick. That means the game controls a lot like Commando 3: Wolf of the Battlefield or Rocketmen: Axis of Evil. The altered control scheme is a nice change, but it also causes one to compare the title to the array of arcade options available via download.
Consequently, Grave Danger doesn't match up well against the competition. Games like the aforementioned pair are just a lot more fun. That wouldn't be so devastating except for the fact that they cost $10 bucks, whereas Grave Danger will set you back four times that much, plus tax and a trip to the store.
Regardless, the Grave Danger campaign is pretty easy to get through by yourself in several hours. However, it is a lot better when played with friends, and the more the merrier. This was true for Battle for Suburbia as well, but Grave Danger lets you best the beasties in a multiplayer endeavor even when your pals aren't around. That's because the online component of the title has been expanded to allow for four-player co-op rather than the paltry two-player from the previous edition. Furthermore, the 16-player capture the flag mode is back with all the frantic action you could hope for. During the time of review, we found a lot of people playing the game. It never took very long to hop into any game type, and we were only bounced once from a campaign on a couple of occasions. However, there is some lag, several glitches, and it can be a pain to have to wait for stragglers. All in all, the online multiplayer functions well, but local multiplayer is certainly far more refined and less frustrating.