|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 D'Marcus Beatty
July 9, 2007 - Monster Madness: Battle for Suburbia has been on the radar of more than a few gamers since its announcement. Generally billed as sort of an update to the cult classic Zombies Ate My Neighbors, Monster Madness seemed to feature everything to restore the feeling that Zombies gave when some of us older gamers played the game on our SNES or Genesis. While Monster Madness is generally a fun play, it doesn't live up to the legacy of its spiritual predecessor.
Monster Madness: Battle for Suburbia is basically a game about battling monsters. Nearly every movie monster imaginable is represented in the game as well as some original ideas. The story revolves around a quartet of high school kids that get caught up in an unexplained outbreak of monsters. Told in a comic book style, the story is light-hearted, never taking itself seriously for a moment. Each of the characters also represent some high-school stereotype, including the dumb pretty blonde girl, the dark goth girl, the nerd, and the stoner. For the most part, the characters play similarly, although each character has a favored type of melee weapon that they can wield better than the others and use to perform special attacks. Each character also spouts random comments during gameplay based on their stereotypical personality. However, these comments, while intended to be humorous, are repetitive enough to get annoying swiftly. The humor also seems written from the viewpoint of people who seem to know little about the stereotypes that they're parodying, so most of the comedy is basic and predictable, such as the blonde making comments about her wardrobe or the nerd making Star Trek references.
The game has a default overhead perspective, and the analog stick separately control the direction the character is facing and the direction the character is traveling. The trigger buttons fire weapons while the bumpers cycle through the arsenal. Clicking the analog sticks causes the character to jump. This control scheme is awkward and takes a while to get used to, especially for the use of jumping to collect weapon parts, which seems oddly out of place in this otherwise top-down shooter. The game is far more enjoyable for the closer perspective, which brings the camera to ground level behind the player, but certain segments, such as the Monster Fest, pull the camera out further, making the less enjoyable overhead visual a requirement.
The aforementioned weapon parts are used to assemble more powerful weaponry throughout the game. As you play and battle the various enemies, you'll come across various weapon parts, including things like pipes and wires, all floating about the game world. Your character collects these as well as monster tokens to trade to a vendor in the game for different weapons. To obtain some of the weapon parts, the player must perform some acrobatic leaping that seems out of place in the game, especially since precise jumping is so difficult because of the perspective and because clicking the analog sticks to jump is imprecise. Even further, the use of both monster tokens and scattered weapon parts to create weaponry seems a bit superfluous, as the developers could have easily used only one of the systems instead of requiring the player to find the essential weapon parts and also pay for the weapon assembly. The weapons in the game also lack the feel of power, as many of the enemies charge at you through repeated shotgun blasts and machine gun fire, although a couple of hits with the melee weapon send them flying. The weapons in the game never feel as powerful as they should, lacking the satisfactory punch that they're supposed to possess, especially when compared to the overpowered melee attacks.
The visuals in the game are pretty decent, composed of a comic art style that exaggerates the character's features. There are some troubles with the frame rate, but otherwise the visuals in the game are more than adequate, showcasing a pretty nice cartoony style. The sound effects and voice acting are both pretty good as well, considering that the game is parodying horror movies and aren't meant to be taken seriously.
Everything about Monster Madness screams multiplayer, from the top down perspective to the hordes of onscreen enemies. The game is undeniably at its best when it's used for its multiplayer elements, whether you're playing through the campaign or battling others in a capture the flag or king of the hill fight. Unfortunately, the campaign's multiplayer can only be accessed locally, although there is a co-op mode online where a few players can attempt to survive a wave of monsters.
Overall, Monster Madness is a fairly decent gaming experience on its own, although when set alongside comparable titles like Dead Rising or even the decade old Zombies Ate My Neighbors, Monster Madness obviously doesn't reach its potential. It shines a little better when using the multiplayer, but even then the shine is dull and lackluster. With revamped controls, multiplayer, and a better weapon system, this game would have been much better. While it is a decent game, if you go in looking for Zombies Ate My Neighbors, Monster Madness will only make you Monster Mad.
CCC Co-Site Director