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Monster Madness: Grave Danger

If years of watching television and films have taught us anything, it’s that teenagers should never be left alone in a house; they’ll either end up having a party that gets out of hand, or become victims of a crazed killer or some other unsavoury sort. Alas for Zack and the rest of the cast of Monster Madness it’s the latter, with monsters clambering at the doors, all with the intention of making our pint sized heroes their latest snack.

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Monster Madness: Grave Danger is a remake of the Xbox 360’s 2007 release Monster Madness: Battle for Suburbia. During this time Monster Madness has found a new developer in Psyonix Studios who looked at reworking the original title for the PlayStation 3, trying to improve on it’s predecessor’s low scores. To achieve this Grave Danger now comes with a number of improvements and additions such as reworking the control system, 4-player online co-op for the adventure mode and an altered camera system.

Grave Danger is a clichéd, tongue-in-cheek B-movie styled game, taking the form of a top down hack ‘n’ slash-come-shooter. Controlling one of the 4 stereotypical teenage characters in up to 4-player co-op, it’s your job to investigate what’s happening whilst smashing as many skulls as possible. The game starts with the house being invaded by monsters, so being the quick-witted lot they are, they run around trying to find the best melee weapon to suit their character. Unfortunately it’s in the early stages where you find the game’s biggest downfall. Running from room to room smacking the melee button before finding something with a bit more firepower, it quickly becomes apparent that this is going to get repetitive very quickly and no amount of enemy types are going to stop this from feeling like a chore.

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It’s not only the repetitiveness that lets this game down either. Whilst the environments are huge, and relatively well designed, they contain more invisible walls than I’ve seen in any game recently. And whilst I can excuse them, I can’t excuse it’s amazing ability to trap you; getting stuck between walls and debris is something that should never appear in a game. Then you have the title’s save feature, or lack of; it’s a case of finish the level or start again. Graphically speaking the game never achieves anything above average. Although the comic book style of the cut scenes are a welcome addition, making the title more Scooby-Doo than Silent Hill. It’s the same with the audio with the clichéd voices and poor script suiting the B-movie styling… although how much of this was intentional is doubtful.

Still it’s not all bad news. The aforementioned assortment of monsters are the game’s best feature. They range from the run of the mill traditional zombie, to cat-wielding grannies and bubble blowing clowns. Dealing with these varied characters requires using a multitude of adapted household objects such as cell phone Tasers and nail guns, which are provided by Larry. Larry also provides you with ammo, upgrades and vehicles; think swan pedalos with rockets.

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Away from the main game there’s also 25 challenges, which vary from white water rafting in the previously mentioned swan pedalo, to killing a set amount of monsters in a given time limit. Versus mode sees you play against up to 3 other local players at a time, in modes like free-for-all deathmatch, team deathmatch and capture the flag. Online modes include 4-player co-op and up to 12 player… well they would, if you could actually find a game, after trying to find an online game numerous times I failed to find a single game. So the best I can say to you is that it appears to be the same game modes as for versus with the addition of free-for-all king of the hill and team king of the hill.

After playing or rather attempting to play Grave Danger I can’t help but wonder if the game would benefit from being available through the PlayStation Store. With the arcade gameplay and the obvious lack of polish, this game was always going to get left on the shelf. The retro gameplay suiting the Store, which is perfect for those impulse buys, not to mention a reduced price tag, could of drawn in more punters. This in turn would have seen the online features become more popular and not end up like a ghost town. Sadly, for a retail game it’s a substandard repetitive game that should only be considered if at a bargain price or if you have 3 other friends willing to play with you. To give the game some credit, the slaughtering of near endless amounts of monsters is satisfying, almost nostalgic; offering a rose tinted reminder of simpler times. Not to mention the ample hours of gameplay, if your willing to put aside the annoyances.

6 out of 10

The author of this fine article

is a Staff Writer at Thunderbolt, having joined in January 2008.

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