|System: X360, PS3, PC, Wii, PS2, DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Beenox||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Activision||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Mar. 24, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
Monsters vs. Aliens is a game for those who are young, or young at heart. If you are expecting a deep and immersive title with plenty or angst or story, this game is not for you. In fact, you shouldnt even be reading this review. But, if you like fun, movie-inspired games with simple yet interesting platforming and some intelligent mini-games thrown in for good measure, then this game will definitely fit the bill.
As youve probably already guessed, Monsters vs. Aliens is the game based on the movie of the same title. The game lets you play through five of the movies pivotal scenes, expanding the experience. Although you dont have to see the movie to appreciate the game, it certainly helps give the games story some context, as cutscenes are sparse and the game basically assumes familiarity with the source material.
But, even though this game is light on story, it certainly isnt lacking gameplay. There are about 20 levels spread across five different movie scenes. The levels feature a puzzle-platform style of gameplay that emphasizes jumping over ledges, throwing switches, and, of course, beating up everything in sight. The gameplay honestly reminded me of the early Crash Bandicoot games, which was definitely a good thing. Although the different levels are completely linear, there are still little surprise areas where you can uncover a hidden switch and get some extra bonuses.
Each level has its own character assigned to it, and even though you can play as all the different monsters, you cant decide when. During each of the scenes that are playable, each character will have their own role that is determined by monster mastermind, Dr. Cockroach. So, for instance, the first scene from the movie that you can play through involves the monsters escaping from the lab facility. Each character has a dedicated level here. Ginormica, aka Susan, will use her car-roller-skating skills to escape from the facility in a vehicle-type level, gelatinous BOB will use his wall-sticking abilities in a stealth-emphasizing level, and the fish-like Missing Link uses his combat skills to fight robots that would prevent their escape. The different levels all emphasize different styles of gameplay, which is very cool and makes the games small scope seem a bit larger for those looking to extend their movie experience with this game.
In addition to the linear story-based levels, there is also a DNA lab where you can use points earned in the game to unlock bonus mini-games. These mini-games can range from endurance-style beat-em-up sessions to level-based time trials, and they are good fun if you want to get away from the main gameplay for awhile.
The games variety of gameplay options certainly serves it in the balance department, and I must admit that during my time with this title I was never bored. Although each level has broad goals that involve your characters life bar staying above zero, each level had environmental challenges that were fun to play through, and I can definitely see younger kids getting a kick out of this titles format and gameplay.
However, one area I found to be a little lacking in Monsters vs. Aliens was the co-op. Although two people can play simultaneously, only one can play onscreen. The second person can play as an off-screen Dr. Cockroach, who only appears as a reticule onscreen. The second player can only shoot through this reticule and has no personal life bar and cannot solve puzzles. Although this player is useful in combat-based levels, in stealth levels the second player cant do anything, and it is a very boring experience. This game is best played single-player, and although parents might see the two-player capability as a chance to play with their kids, they might just find themselves falling asleep at the controller again.