Episode 8- Monster Madness

Posted: June 22, 2012 in 5DG Plays
Tags: , , , , , , ,

System: Xbox 360 (also available on PC, improved special edition on PS3)

Release Date: June 12th, 2007

Rarity: 15%

Price/Location: $4.85/GameStop

I remember the hype leading up to the release of this game. Well, the PS3 version, anyway. The Playstation 3 version was released over a year after this one and was supposed to make everything about the 360 version better. The hype for it was incredible. I worked at GameStop at the time of the PS3 release and we were advertising the hell out of it. Posters, advertisements, pre-order bonuses the likes of which were usually reserved for big titles like Halo and Call of Duty. This was going to be one big game.

The chaos outside GameStop on August 5th, 2008.

That day came and went and I barely heard about the game again. It was but a distant memory until a few weeks ago, when I found the 360 version sitting in the $9.99-and-under bin at my local GameStop. The memories all came flooding back. The hype, all the pre-order merchandise, the sudden drop off in interest of the game. As I wasn’t working for GameStop at the time of the original release, I can’t comment on the hype for it, but surely the demand must have been there for a port to the Playstation 3. Every game worthwhile gets a port to another system to reach a wider audience, right?

John Romero made everyone he suckered out of $50 his bitch.

The main menu is typical for the 360: Single Player, Multiplayer, Options, Leaderboards, Extras. I turn on the subtitles because sometimes it’s useful for story comprehension. Hopping into the game, you are given the choice of 4 characters. Zack is the token nerd, Andy is the token skater dude, Carrie is the token goth girl, and Jennifer is the token blonde cheerleader.

Character development is easy when you stick to stereotypes!

I choose Andy because why not. The story begins in comic book form with Zack monologuing to himself about how his parents are out of town and this is his chance to tell Carrie how he feels about her. It’s revealed Carrie is in the room with him and they’re doing homework. He starts to try to spit it out, but there’s a knock at the door. Andy pops in, inquiring about a skateboard Zack was supposed to fix for him. Carrie, frustrated that they’re getting nowhere on the homework, goes to leave, when she runs into Jennifer, who comes over to see if Zack has finished her biology report yet. So far Carrie seems like the only decent character so far. Now that all four are in the house, it’s time for the monsters to attack! What convenient timing!

“Are the kids all in the house now? Alright! Time to wreck shit!”

The gameplay finally begins and holy crap is the screen a clusterf***. The camera slowly rotates around the pivot point that is my character and there is chaos all over the place. Zombies swarm the house and random objects are littered all over the place. The live tutorial is lagging behind the action, and I don’t actually learn what the controls are until well after the action had begun. The right trigger button attacks, A to jump, B to dodge, left trigger to throw projectile weapons, X to perform actions like picking up weapons, opening doors, etc. Everything looks so tiny as well which contributes to the clusterf***iness of this game. I’m sure it’d look better on an HDTV, but I’m playing this on a 27″ Sylvania from the late 90’s with a screen burn spot in the upper right corner.

Not the TV to show off AWSUM GRAYPHICS with.

Speaking of how the game looks, I’m sure it’s because they wanted to do 4-player simultaneous gameplay while also throwing in as much crap as they can on screen because why the hell not, but the graphics are not among the best the 360 has to offer. The gameplay and comic book cutscenes look decent, but strangely the cutscenes where they introduce a new enemy would barely be passable on the Playstation 2. These cutscenes are pointless anyway. Half of them introduce a character so minor that they die in one hit and can’t easily be identified anyway because of how zoomed out and, once again, how clusterf***y the game is. After escaping the house, the battle is taken to the streets and Larry Tools is introduced. He knows what’s going on somehow, despite the whole thing starting only a few minutes ago (remember, Andy and Jennifer managed to walk over to Zack’s house unscathed). He offers to build you weapons if you bring him parts and Monster Tokens.

The blue things there that pop out of the zombies that suddenly appeared only minutes ago that Larry Tools seems to suspiciously know so much about.

The game seems easy so far, if not, just a little monotonous. Mashing the trigger button is not the preferred way I’d like to take out waves of enemies in a game like this. I’d prefer if the attack button could be mapped to one of the face buttons. Also a problem with this control configuration is that a special attack can be launched by holding the attack button down after a meter has been filled. The problem here is that the attack animation is too slow for the frantic on-screen action, so I’m often hitting the trigger button multiple times, as feels natural in a game like this, before my character finishes one attack. The result is the special attack misfiring when you don’t want it too. So many times I’d be close to finishing off a wave of enemies, only to have my special attack trigger accidentally on the last enemy. Very frustrating.

I turned into Angry Video Game Nerd many times during the playing of this game.

The challenge level of any good game gradually goes up as you progress through the game. Level 1 in the house is pretty easy. Level 2 on the streets is a little tougher, but there are soda machines to refill your health around every corner. If Level 1 and 2 is the game patting you on the back and saying “you’re doing a great job, you’ll defeat me in no time,” then Level 3 is the game swiftly kicking you in the balls, laughing at your pain, and stealing your girlfriend at the same time.

Pictured: Level 3

Level 3 takes place in the park, but it is no walk in the park! *har har har* Some annoying as hell enemies show up to taunt you into ripping the hair out of your head. Spiders, Fire Imps, Evil Clowns, and the enemy that made me give up once and for all: Bigfoot. Remember how I talked about how games typically have a challenge level that gradually rises? Well, the reason why I felt the challenge level rose an exponential rate so early in the game is because of what was added to Level 3 (multiple enemies flooding the screen that all take multiple hits to kill) and what was taken away (there is one soda machine I was able to find in the park, compared to the roughly 84 of them in Level 2. The weapons Larry Tools builds  for you don’t really help much. The nail gun is weak and has a slow firing rate, although it helped with the Fire Imps, since they dodge your melee attacks. The pipe shotgun is a bit more powerful than the nail gun, but it greatly slows your walking speed, to the point where you can’t avoid enemy fire.

I guess I can’t expect much from something that looks like this in real life.

Verdict: BARGAIN BIN

I’m sure this game would have been a little better had I been playing with more people. But at least in a similar game, like Gauntlet Legends, the difficulty level was scaled down for those playing alone. The bigfoot enemies I encountered, likely would have been tackled easily by two or more people, but with just me, it was cause for me to call it quits. If I hadn’t said it enough, the game is a giant clusterf***. The amount of stuff on-screen makes it disorienting and it doesn’t help the camera is constantly rotating. The controls and attack animations just felt unnatural for a game of this type. I would hope that the PS3 version released a year later improved on some of these things, but I’m not too eager to find out. This just left a bad taste in my mouth.

That does it for Episode 8 of Five Dollar Gamer! If you want to leave comments, praise, criticisms, or suggestions you can leave them here, or on The Official Five Dollar Gamer Facebook Page!

Thanks for reading!

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