Monster Madness Grave Danger

   19/09/2008 at 23:22       Joe Bennett       10 COMMENTS. - Score 4/5
Having been out on the 360 for over a year now...

...and having been on the receiving end of copious amounts of criticism, you could have been excused for thinking that Monster Madness wasn't exactly an ideal candidate for a PS3 port. SouthPeak Interactive thought otherwise and handed it to another developer, Psyonix, to make the necessary improvements based on the criticisms made. Listening to critical and consumer feedback and trying to make improvements is to be commended, especially when some companies seem to ignore it in favour of rushing out another identikit sequel.

For those of you who didn't play the 360/PC original, Monster Madness is all about stereotypical teens Zack (geek), Carrie (goth), Andy (surfer dude), and Jennifer's (cheerleader) neighbourhood being suddenly invaded by zombies. With their world in turmoil and their lives in danger, they decide to trek across town to their local Police station to sort out the mess. Quite why they couldn't use a mobile phone (and ignoring the fact that if they're local Police are anything like mine, I wouldn't have bothered going to them anyway) is never really explained. The story is then delivered via comic book and in-game cutscenes that are as painful to watch, as they are cringe worthy.

All of the voiceover work is embarrassing and recorded in very poor quality but it is Zack's voice that is by far the most irritating. Voiced by someone who clearly has no clue about voiceover work, his lines are read with all of the pace and drama of the class swot who always insisted on reading from a book to the English class in school. 'OH WHO is...that...this...timeWHOEVERitisISgoingTObedead!'

The humour is equally embarrassing, even taking into account that it is aimed at younger teens. From the line above (which involves Zack opening the door to a load of zombies and which wouldn't have been funny no matter how it was delivered) to the hilarious joke that involves Carrie being mistaken for a zombie due to her gothic appearance (oh how my sides didn't split), Monster Madness is a game that is likely to only raise a titter amongst diehard BBC3 comedy viewers (Little Miss Jocelyn, anyone?).

Save the cheerleader, save the world.

So what have they actually done to improve the game? Well the control scheme has had a revamp and now controls like a typical two-stick shooter. Four players can now play through the game cooperatively online and character upgrades can now be purchased with the Monster Tokens collected (which seem to be a little more plentiful in the PS3 version). There are also 25 new challenges available to play outside of the main campaign (varying in quality, although most won't be played more than once).

While these improvements were much needed, I have to be honest and say that they didn't improve my enjoyment of the game. Why does it matter how a game controls if it's not fun to play? Weapons are still underpowered and the level design is still stuck in the nineties, with hedges and police barriers acting as walls, which were barely acceptable back then let alone now. Worse still the AI is laughably poor, with some of the games meanest enemies easily thwarted by positioning yourself so that a tree or any other object blocks their path to you. With the enemy continuing to walk into the object, you can stand still and empty your long-range weapon into them until they die. Other AI atrocities occur, such as the demons being a real threat from long range, only to have their attacks pass straight through you without any contact if you get up close to them.

Vehicles are still unwieldy to control, visually it's still an eye-sore but now comes complete with frame-rate drops and tearing, and they've even seen fit to remove some of the harder sections from the 360 version, which makes it a breeze to not only complete Monster Madness, but to attain an 'S' rank on at least half of the levels on your first play through. Even the online modes, that could have gone some way to make up for the lack of fun in the campaign mode, are emptier than HBOS shareholders accounts.

Above all else, Monster Madness is nothing more than a PSN download masquerading as a (near) full price release. The production values are poor and it plays like the sort of rushed retro remake you see in the PC budget sections. In fact comparing it to a PSN title is more than unfair on a lot of the games available to download from the store. Super Stardust HD, Last Guy and PixelJunk Monsters, to name but a few, all offer a much more enjoyable experience than Monster Madness and they weigh in at 1/6th of the price.

What should have been a simple and fun game has, twice now, been turned into a title reeking of mediocrity. It's never a good sign when a manual is riddled with spelling mistakes and inaccuracies, but even after seeing those I was still certain that they would have got it right second time around. The fact that they didn't, that in some areas (mainly frame-rate, tearing and removing certain sections of levels) it's dipped in quality and that they're charging nearly full-price for the experience, Monster Madness is a title that's hard to recommend to anybody other than very casual gamers with young kids who want a game to play through together.

As a PSN title, priced at around 4.99, I would have been a little more lenient with the scoring. As it is I would suggest downloading the demo (the first level of which is one of the better levels in the game) before even considering a bargain bin purchase.

The PR blurb stated that 'misery loves company'. I just wish it hadn't wanted mine.
User Comments:

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TheBoy - on 20/09/2008 at 13:09 wrote:
You'll not be entering the competition for a free copy then, Kent :-P

kentmonkey - on 20/09/2008 at 13:41 wrote:

It's worth it as a freebie though.

NewYork - on 20/09/2008 at 15:29 wrote:
That's something I've noticed with a lot of PSN games is that they have crappy artwork, most of the time. Monster Madness's artwork is seriously ugly.

Didn't care much for the demo - looked really cheap.

Still, entered the competition, of course.

kentmonkey - on 20/09/2008 at 16:26 wrote:
Monster Madness isn't a PSN title though York. It should be, as some of the shortcomings would have been more forgiveable, but it's not.


NewYork - on 20/09/2008 at 17:51 wrote:
Ah, right. Dunno why I assumed that.

HairyArse - on 20/09/2008 at 21:17 wrote:
Not sure this rating is gonna help my Monster Madness competition, but still, if this doesn't prove we're impartial I don't know what will.

kentmonkey - on 20/09/2008 at 21:33 wrote:
If it helps, as a freebie, I'd rate it 6/10.

Richie - on 20/09/2008 at 21:51 wrote:
Bit harsh. The demo I played wasn't that bad. But then I've never played the full I'll shut up.

kentmonkey - on 21/09/2008 at 19:35 wrote:
The first level of the demo Richie is, imo, the best or maybe second best level of the whole game.

I agree with NY's new scoring system.

NewYork - on 22/09/2008 at 21:47 wrote:
I'd rate the demo givememytimeback/10.

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