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Monster Madness Grave Danger Demo Impressions

July 11, 2008

Monster Madness: Grave Danger is a port of the original 360/pc title, Monster Madness: Battle for Suburbia.

Story

Monster Madness has you controlling one of four characters. After monsters come to earth and start killing humans, four teenagers are left to battle the hordes. They include Zack, the stereotypical nerd, Carrie a goth girl, Andy a skater and Jennifer the cheerleader. Each character has the same set of weapons(The ones you can purchase anyway) with unique melee weapons for each character. Along the way you meet a monster hunter who will upgrade your equipment(if you can call it that) as well as built/upgrade weapons for monster tokens(Things that are dropped when monsters are defeated)

Gameplay

The game is a top down shooter(meaning the camera hovers above you only showing a view of you from the sky and a small area around you) that allows for cooperative play. The controls are OK but need some work(maybe because the game skips the first level and most likely the tutorial as well). I won’t describe the controls but once you get used to them they work pretty well but there seriously needs to be a “fire” button. Shooting with the left stick works well, pretty well actually but when using the rocket launcher trying to get a good first shot can be somewhat frustrating(You move the stick to help aim it where you want it to go and BAM it fires and you miss).

The main game is pretty fun and is decent, but its the “driving”(if it can be called that) sections are bad and some of the extra challenges are awful to control. In the third level(Second for the demo) you are given control of a super powered swan boat. Before i get into driving the developers need to work on the quick tutorial section for button controls. My first playthrough it showed what i thought to be the R1 and L1 buttons to fire rockets. In reality it was the R2 and L2 buttons, this needs to be made much more clear. Now that that tangent is over the driving is bad. Your not so much as controlling your vehicle as much as your floating and aiming rockets if you happen to see someone in front of you. It gets even worse in challenges(a mode having you do time trials and what not) where you have to race to the end of this river in the shortest amount of time. Trying to steer in this section is like trying to eat a 15ft tall sandwich in one bite, it’s not gonna happen and will just end badly. The steering is so low that you mist as well forget the camera and try to steer the ship blind around corners. Another challenge is you in a turret trying to survive as long as possible. Now this has the opposite problem! Aiming the turret around is so quick that its hard focusing on one area. For a nice gaming example of these problems, imagine playing a shooting game with the aiming so slow everyone kills you before you can move to shoot, or the camera being so fast you pull a 180 instead of aiming at the target. But as i said earlier the game is at its best during the campaign, even with its problems. Also what ever happened to mini maps? This game absolutely NEEDS a mini map and without one it can be hard to navigate a level without following the goal marker.

I said two paragraphs ago that the game can be played cooperatively. The demo features this option in 4 player online co op. Like the campaign this works well, but has some noticeable problems. The framerate makes a dive when more than one player enters the game(its jump in and jump out co op) but its never enough to make it unplayable, but it is very noticeable. Also with co op the camera will only move when all the players move in the same direction, so one un cooperative player can stall the game or make it difficult to attack enemies when they are a bit off screen. Almost forgot to mention when the framerate takes a dive, so does the graphics quality.

Graphics/Audio

With that nice segway we go to the graphics. The game uses the unreal 3 engine to power its graphics. It doesn’t use it to the fullest like Unreal Tournament 3 or Bioshock has but it does it job well. It is not trying to be a graphics powerhouse like those two. Aside from when the frame rate crashes there’s no real problem, everything looks clean and the cutscenes are especially crisp. Of course these are not really cutscenes, as much as they are a comic book page filling the screen with some animation. These work well with the feel the game was aiming for and the voice acting within them is solid, but not great.

Conclusion:

Monster Madness: Grave Danger is a step up from the universally hated 360 and PC versions. The original version known as Monster Madness: Battle for Suburbia as an average review of 5.3 on gamestats. From what I’ve seen the game is decent at best. With some improvements to the framerate with online co cop and better controls for certain sections this might be great. However there is one thing i haven’t mentioned that stops this from being great at all. The price, when starting this i did not remember that this was a disc based game, which means you will be paying $40 for this new on the Ps3. This is at best a $15 downloadable game and it should be downloadable.

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