Monster Madness: Grave Danger Review
Monster Madness Battle for Suburbia was a release on the PC and Xbox360 in 2007, which unfortunately wasn’t well received. For the PS3, SouthPeak Interactive have gone back to the code and given it the once over, adding in an online campaign mode, improving the control system and changing the name to Grave Danger.
At its heart, the core game of Monster Madness is little changed from its Battle for Suburbia brethren. It tells the tale of four teenagers: a geek, a goth, a skater and a cheerleader. All are filled with the usual stereotypes, except for the part where they find themselves fending off zombies, vampires, ghosts, goblins and all manner of other creatures of the undead.
Each character has their own tale to tell, throwing in a lot of pop-culture references along the way, but it’s a painful delivery. It’s very humour laden, but at the same time not particularly laugh-out-loud funny, and in the end it’s just window dressing. Each character is a delicately crafted pixilated form, and all have a unique look to them. What a pity then, that every character controls identically. Although the weapons are cosmetically different, the core mechanics are the same; it’s somewhat of a shame that there couldn’t have been a little more variation, at least then there would be a degree of re-playability. As it is, the player will spend much of the first part of the game hacking and slashing at monsters with hockey sticks, spades, swords and axes – a task that gets repetitive and boring very swiftly, particularly given the intelligence of the AI. In this case the A stands for awful.
The environments our intrepid heroes find themselves in are also very detailed, with plenty of comical touches. The torn-apart city is aptly represented, although the journey through them is strictly controlled. There were criticisms of the original game’s difficulty level, something that’s been addressed in Grave Danger, just not in the right way. There are no longer check-points across the map, instead, whenever a character dies, it simply re-spawns without much in the way of penalty, taking away the tough challenge of the game.
If the single-player side of things begins to tire (and it will), there are a selection of fun mini games, many of which are really quite imaginative. There’s a take on Pac-Man, a zombie game of baseball, a battle-royale style slaughter, to name but a few. It’s a well received diversion from the main game, but is unlikely to stem the blood loss from the main game for long.
Grab a four-pack and a few mates and Monster Madness makes a bit of a transformation. In the multiplayer mode, friends can work co-operatively against the hordes of the undead, with up to four people taking part or battle head-to-head in a deathmatch. This can be done locally or online, but sadly, there seems to be few people with this game stuck in their PS3. Finding an active session is a feat in itself, but once in-game, there’s little in the way of lag to spoil it. When the monster-slaying mayhem gets going, it’s almost possible to forget the lonely solo-adventure of the single player game. Monster Madness definitely works better with other people.
As nice as Monster Madness looks, it cannot make up for the lack of fun on offer, 90% of which is mashing the X button. Whilst the mini-games offer some diversion from the slack single-player game, the online mode simply isn’t populated enough to make it worthwhile bothering with. The repetitive and tedious gameplay, bad pacing and lack of any real challenge, leaves Monster Madness in a smelly undead pit of mediocrity.