|System: X360, PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Artificial Studios / Immersion Games||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Southpeak||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: May 15, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4 (up to 16 online)||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Matthew Walker
April 20, 2007 - Zombies are great. You can keep shooting them, and they just keep coming. No matter what you do, even if you think you have destroyed the last one, there they are in all their moaning and groaning excellence when you turn the next corner. There have been several hit zombie games for us to explore, but I can promise you the experience you will have on Monster Madness will be unlike any other in the zombie-hunting field, unless you have played the SNES / Genesis classic, Zombies Ate My Neighbors. If you missed out on that one, then you are in for a treat.
The plot of the game follows that of any B horror film. Four friends, which you would not imagine at all being friends, are having a party while their parents are away. When weird creatures start attacking, the four friends defend their homes with anything they can get their hands on. Zombies will not be the only creatures of the night you face either. In fact, they are just the tip of the gravestone. Everything from Werewolves to Mummies will be attacking the four friends.
Those four friends are your stereotypical versions of high school kids. Zack is the nerd of the bunch. Everything about him, right down the small buck-teeth protruding from his mouth, stamps his as such. His preferred weapons are the axe-based types you can find throughout the game. Carrie is the Goth chic: stark black hair, heavy makeup circles around her eyes, and an attitude of whatever. Carrie prefers to slice and dice her way out of hairy situations with swords. Then there is Andy, the hype surfer dude that will use anything he can get his hands on to survive, but his preferred weapon of choice is a plunger. Finally, there is Jennifer, the preppy, shrieking cheerleader. She wears pink, has blonde hair, and is physically different from Carrie. Her weapon of choice, as you can imagine, is dual batons. There are several other weapons throughout the game which they all can use, but the main focus is to obtain their favorite weapons and build massive gun type weapons.
The appeal of the game is the character designs. The bubbly, cartoony feel to the characters give the automatic B horror film feel of such cult classics as The Toxic Avenger. The stereotypes are so over the top that no one will be able to deny the humor that spouts out of their deadpan dialogue. I recently got the chance to spend a little bit battling for suburbia and that was one of the first things I noticed. At the character select screen, your potential players will deliver straight-faced quips about you taking so long and a few random one-liners. The difficulty settings might also make you feel a little giddy from the start. With settings titled - Child's Play, Thriller, Horror, and Madness, fans of the genre know they are in for one of the most entertaining, brutal games to involve cartoony creatures of the night.
You start out in Zack's house when the zombie creatures begin their onslaught. After a brief, and I mean really brief, freak-out by your character you will be able to scour the house looking for weapons to use against the zombies. Nearly everything you find is a weapon of some sort. The controls for the characters are fairly nice, but there was at least a few times where turning your character in the correct direction to mow down your enemies was non-responsive. Another issue I noticed was that if you are cornered, it is nearly impossible to escape even with the jump option. Thankfully, when that happens there is usually a swinging door close by that you might be able to escape through, as long as there is not a pack of enemies waiting on the other side. There are also special moves that you can do as long as you have the type of weapon your character wants. The environments are completely interactive. Not only does this add a nice mix to the overall gameplay, it also quickly reminds you that this is a survival horror game and is based on what you would do in a similar situation. For instance, in the garage there is a giant buzz saw in the middle of the floor. If your character is close to it and an action balloon, affectionately called a comic balloon in the game, pops over your head, press the corresponding button to unleash the buzz saw onto your enemies. You will have to watch out though. Most of the interactive weapons you can use will cause damage to you as well.
In addition to the main game, which is designed to be cooperative with up to four players taking the hordes of suburbia and beyond, there will also be online Vs. optionfor you to compete in as well. The Vs. option can be done offline, but the camera and busy environments might be better suited for online experience. During the Vs. option, you will have different stages to choose from. The one that I was able to play through was the Gymnasium of Death, which is my own title for it, but it suits it. The reason for my affectionate name is not only for the different types of weapons you can acquire to take on your friends, but there are also traps that you can send your friends flying into. For example, there is an overturned helicopter with its blades still turning - I am sure you can figure out what happens from there. Equally disturbing, and enjoyable, is the scoreboard that fries the competition. Just to make things a little more interesting, there are trampolines that, if thrown into them just right, your foes will fly into the middle of the traps getting you more points.
There are a few bugs here and there, but I am sure that they will have been worked out by the full release. With six giant levels and the ability to drive a vehicle with up to all four of your characters riding along, not to mention that your character will eventually be able to transform into creatures of the night themselves, Monster Madness is a guilty pleasure game just waiting to happen. Be sure to check back here at CCC for our in depth review of what is shaping up to be the best multiplayer survival horror game.
CCC Freelance Writer