Monsters vs. Aliens is yet another movie tie in game to appear under the watchful eye of Activision and with the movie’s March/April release means that most animated movie fans should have an opportunity to watch it before playing the game. Although that said, I don’t think you’d have ruined the plot of the movie too much if you play the game first. Clearly aimed at a younger audience, the movie and game take you on a roller coaster ride across the US and beyond as an unwitting partnership occurs between the very frightened humans and monsters. Aliens are attacking Earth and with no means to thwart the alien threat it’s down to the four monster heroes to work their magic. It’s an endearing tale of friendship, discovery and removing the prejudices we all have. Monsters aren’t so bad, as long as you understand them. OK this might not be applicable to all monsters, like Vampires, and Werewolves, but in the context of a children’s movie/game it works well.
The game’s story seems to borrow elements from the movie but runs parallel to it rather than being a carbon copy of each scene. You’ll experience the monsters in new ways, although never straying too far from what has been presented in the movie. If you enjoyed the film and want to experience the monsters in an interactive manner, then the game certainly provides a
So, onto the game itself, Monsters vs. Aliens could be described as an platform adventure game and seems to follow a well-trodden path of gameplay styles that seems synonymous with kids movie tie-in games. You’ll get to control three of the four main characters, that’s Ginormica or Susan – the very tall and powerful woman. BOB and the rather wobbly gel like creature and The Missing Link – best described as part ape and part fish. Each character has their own gameplay style, so effectively you’ll be switching between the three during the 20 odd scenes.
Ginomica offers the chance to get on the skates (well makeshift skates made out of cars), and race against the alien threat by avoiding various obstacles and performing powerful attacks via Quick Time Events (QTE). She’s massive and very nimble as she’s able to grind on walls and pipes, perform massive leaps over obstacles as well as ducking and swinging out of harms way. Controlling her is very easy and you’re pretty much restricted to a small linear area to keep things simple.
BOB offers up a more taxing experience as you negotiate a series of puzzles in the form of maze like environments. There are some clever moments here as BOB chooses when to stick to surfaces, grab opponents to cross certain areas, and shoot up various bosses, all the while avoiding hazardous traps.
The Missing Link changes things once more and offers more action based moments. Here you’ll be punching and swinging tail to take down all manor of alien invaders (well mostly robots actually). The routes are pretty linear and you’ll be hitting switches, unscrewing massive screws and generally getting up close and personal with the alien monstrosities.
It’s welcome to have the three styles on offer and certainly makes the game feel less run of the mill than it’s contemporaries, although there is quite a lot of repetition and you’ll be doing the same things over and over just in different areas. I can imagine that younger gamers who aren’t allowed to play the big games they might want to, will surely get plenty of enjoyment, although older gamers would do well to play is small doses. There are some minor fiendish puzzles that could prove a little too taxing for those who lack patience, but on the whole nothing to really make you throw the pad away and give up. As an experienced gamer, I actually found the change of pace and welcoming gameplay to be a breath of fresh air, despite it being a breeze to play. That said, there are 30 plus challenges to unlock and play, and looking at gaining top marks for all of them is a quite sizable challenge for any gamer.
Bold, colourful and indicative of the source material is how I would describe the graphics. For younger gamers they will feel well pleased with the presentation as the artists have captured the characters and the feel of the movie very well. I encountered no real issues and I think for the most part the game does what it says on the tin. If I were to try and pick holes then that would be with some of the button presses not being as instant as they could be, however due to the nature of the level design rarely posed a problem.
The audio is perfect, and uses the original cast to voice the characters. That’s Reese Witherspoon, Seth Rogen, Hugh Laurie, Will Arnett, Rainn Wilson, Kiefer Sutherland, Stephen Colbert, and Paul Rudd. All the sound effects and music are well placed and like the graphics, for a game of this nature cannot really be faulted. For the ultimate movie experience outside of the actual film itself, you’ll find the wacky dialogue and a few laughs strewn along the way.
For the younger gamer there’s plenty to keep you occupied through the story, and as you play you’ll be able to unlock movie stills, concept artworks and extra challenges. The main story can be completed fairly quickly if you play through in one sitting, but to gain all of the achievements on offer, you’ll be playing the story at least twice, and spending hours perfecting the challenges. As an older gamer then you’ll probably find most of the game a breeze to play through, but that’s to be expected. There is an option to go co-op with a friend should there be more than one child vying for control of the game and this should allow for equality amongst squabbling youngsters.
I’ve enjoyed the simplicity that is Monsters vs. Aliens, and with a story that’s as far out as the aliens themselves has been easy to get into and easy to play. I can imagine youngsters and fans of the movie will have a great experience with the game but overall the only real let down is the fact that there’s little challenge for older gamers and perhaps too much repetition. That said, for a movie tie in game, it has been well produced and packs a fair amount of unadulterated fun as you take control of three very different characters.