Let's do the mash
Monster Madness: Battle for Suburbia is a 3D top-down, hack 'n slash monster slaying fest with cartoon-styled colourful graphics, a hefty portion of tongue-in-cheek humour and a heart-thumping pace that mimics the frantic gameplay of the likes of arcade classics such as Gauntlet. Inspired by the developers love of low budget, side-splitting B-movie horror classics, Monster Madness features the likes of werewolves, skeletons, mummies, gargoyles and evil clowns, to name just a few; in fact Artificial Studios have adopted every mythical and inherently evil human-being and monster they could muster and thrust them into the ghoulish bowels of this run-and-gun title!
On paper, the concept of Monster Madness is a decent one, with a vast collection of monsters, dozens of weapons (customisable), a unique visual style and the implentation of Unreal Engine 3. The team at Artificial Studios have done well to stamp their own identity and creativity on their first flagship title and it's clear to see that they've thought long and hard before creating some of the humorous scenarios that you'll find yourselves thrown into. They've also conjured up some superb animations, designed some impressive locations and sculptured some intricately designed character models, with each individual creature having their own unique look. The overall visual style of the game and the way you can interact with the environment is helped in no small way by the AGEIA physics platform, which gives you the freedom to pick up, blow up or throw almost anything that isn't nailed down. So, there's a fair few positives to talk about in Monster Madness, boding well for future titles from the studio, but even with the game's appealing style, they've still committed the cardinal sin in any videogame – and that's poor gameplay. There's so much emphasis on the style, the animations and the physical interaction with the surroundings that the gameplay seems to have been the last things on their minds.
The control system is poorly implemented with some questionable button mapping, such as needing to click the right thumb-stick down to jump. The camera angles switch at inappropriate moments making fighting and driving vehicles seem messy and uncoordinated. Furthermore, targeting seems slightly out synch meaning that you'll totally miss your target at times, even when were sure that you were about to embed a spade accurately into the back of their heads. These issues, which may remain unnoticed in some games, are brought to the forefront in Monster Madness because 99.9% of the gameplay involves combat. With a little more care and thought, Monster Madness could have been so much better, but as it stands there's a fine line in the game between having fun whilst laughing out loud and tearing your hair out in frustration. The control system doesn't totally ruin the game by any means,but it's frustrating to know how great Monster Madness could have been if more work would have gone into the controls. As it stands, it's a fairly average monster bash.