Review / Monsters vs. Aliens (Xbox 360)

Videogame adaptations of movies are usually met with much skepticism. What commonly happens is developers put together a game more quickly than usual in order to release it alongside the feature film. The result is usually a glitch filled underwhelming experience that’s destined for the bargain bin. Monsters vs. Aliens is based off the Dreamworks Animations film that was released in late March and lets players go through scenes from the movie that takes roughly 5-6 hours to complete. The worst part of Monsters vs. Aliens is the horribly repetitive nature of each of the stages. What players will do in the game’s first chapter is exactly what will be done for the rest of the game. It all gets old very quickly and makes one wish the game would just hurry up and end so the redundancy will finally be over.

The plot of game has the monsters taking down an alien menace named Gallaxhar who is on a mission to obtain a substance called quantonium so he can take over the universe. The source of this substance is present in Susan aka Ginormica which caused her to grow into a giant. To stop Gallaxhar from accomplishing his mission, the military enlists the help of monsters to fight him off. We play each chapter from the perspectives of three monsters named B.O.B., a ball of goo that can move through grates and stick to walls, The Missing Link, a fish looking monkey creature that scales walls and brawls, and Susan who skates all the time. Each monster traverses similar paths for every chapter in the game.

Susan for example skates through the environment while ducking, dodging and jumping over lasers. Occasionally you can skate on an alternate path but it’s only to obtain more DNA points that can be used to purchase additional content in the DNA Lab. Susan does handle nicely and accurately reacts to the maneuvers you ask of her. Her scenes are rounded up by a number of quicktime button sequences that makes you wish you could actually perform some of these moves. Look at her scenes as on-rails skating sequences because you can’t control the speed or verge too far off the predetermined path.

The Missing Link is the brawler of the game. His scenes always have him scaling along the outside of giant robots while taking down gun turrets and removing screws. Controlling The Missing Link feels a lot like playing as Kratos from God of War. The X button is for quick attacks, Y does strong attacks and the right analog stick dodges. You won’t be doing much dodging in the game if any at all because the enemies are easy to destroy. The ease of combat is accentuated if you use The Missing Link’s multiple lock-on barrel roll attack. This usually results in a one hit kill.

The last playable character is B.O.B. who makes up for the more puzzle oriented portions of the game. B.O.B. can ingest blocks and some enemies to shoot them at objects or use them as a foundation to move across metal crates.

All these characters have varied tasks when compared to each other but it’s always the same objective time and time again. A giant robot threatens to lay waste to the land and the three monsters do the same thing to take them down until the credits roll. A two player cooperative mode doesn’t do much to shape up the gameplay. Since it would be contradictory to the gameplay to have two different monsters on screen working together, the second player mans a turret. A young child could get a kick out of lending a hand but that’s as far as it goes.

Monsters vs. Aliens doesn’t do anything to make players want to continue the story. It’s a huge plus that some of the movie’s voice actors reprise their roles for the game as this makes the cutscenes fairly enjoyable to watch and even entices a chuckle every once in a while. The sound bytes in the game are just as repetitive as the gameplay. You can only hear,”Don’t mess with The Missing Link” so many times before turning the volume way down. If it weren’t for the music and CG cutscenes I wouldn’t have had the volume on at all. Almost every new section of a level is started off with Dr. Cockroach telling you what you must do even though you’ve done it ten times before. The audio side of things are very mono and nothing to write home about.

The graphics are substandard as well. Even while playing in HD, the Xbox 360 version of Monsters vs. Aliens looks like it could have been done on last generation systems. The textures stand out as being blurry and undefined. Some areas seem to be reused to make the levels look larger than they really are. This game could have been so much better than what it is but it falls short like so many film turned videogames before it.

$50 is asking too much for Monsters vs. Aliens. Its look is outdated and the gameplay is painfully repetitive. The best part is the cutscenes which unfortunately can’t be played. To its credit there is a lot of unlockable content that can be purchased in between levels and a few challenging mini-games. This isn’t a game I would buy at full price, but it may be nice to purchase it at a discount if you just want to waste some time.

+ Good voice acting
+ Lots of unlockables
+ Sturdy framerate

– Every level is the same
– Graphics and textures are outdated
– Too long for its own good