When it comes to games that involve zombies and shooting them, there are quite a few, the most well-known being the Resident Evil series. But when you add other creatures like giant spiders, werewolves and mummies into the mix, that number becomes a handful of games, the latest of which is Monster Madness: Battle for Suburbia. A combination of Zombie Ate My Neighbors‘s spirit with Smash TV‘s control scheme tacked on, Monster Madness succeeds well in some places, but falls short elsewhere.
Monster Madness finds four teenagers — the geeky Zack, goth girl Carrie, surfer Andy, and the token cheerleader, Jennifer — against an army of creatures, including zombies, mummies and giant spiders. Armed with whatever weapons they can find, they set out to stop the evil plague of monsters and save their suburban home.
The game features five different areas, each with three to five levels a piece, and four difficulty settings. The settings are not just cosmetic, either, as the game gets noticeably harder on higher difficulties. Each of the four main characters has their own specific melee weapon, but can also pick up limited-use melee weapons.
Monster Madness also includes a feature that allows you to buy and upgrade weapons. When they’re fully upgraded, the weapons are amazing, but the problem is actually getting them to that point. To upgrade, you have to collect Monster Tokens as well as supplies from around the game’s levels, and that is where the frustration can begin. Getting Monster Tokens is easy; getting enough supplies, even though they are scattered throughout the level, isn’t. It requires you to trek through the entire level and kill just about every creature to find them all, which can be quite time-consuming and frustrating.
Each level of the game pretty much works the same: slash and shoot your way through the horde of monsters while trying to complete objectives, collect supplies and Tokens, and above all else, stay alive. Even with a wide variety of weapons to help you out, it gets pretty boring after a while, and I wish that there was a bit more variety in the game-play aspect of the levels.
Monster Madness utilizes analog sticks to both move and turn, much like in modern first-person shooters. The fact that this isn’t a first-person shooter, and the fact that it’s sometimes hard to get in the right spot to take down attacking monsters, means that there might be some frustration with this control scheme, but after a while, it becomes more comfortable.
The game uses a comic-book style art design which works well graphically. Though each level seems to play out the same, their designs are well-done and incorporate plenty to explore. It helps to take some of the sting out of the fact that most of the game really is just hacking, slashing, and shooting your way through monsters. The game’s soundtrack is somewhat forgettable, as it doesn’t really add much to the game, but the voice acting is pretty well done.
With the ability to go back and play unlocked levels on any difficulty setting, Monster Madness has more replay value than you might expect. Also of note is co-op play, which is not only fun, but helps break up some of the monotony of single-player mode. The game’s Xbox Live Achievements require a certain level of skill to beat, as well as having the game set to a difficulty of Thriller (medium) or higher.
Monster Madness is a game that has some flaws, but it’s not too bad overall. It’s not on the same level as the classic title Zombies Ate My Neighbors, and there is room for improvement in the game’s design, but it is a solid, if short game. If you’re looking for a break from the many first-person shooters on the Xbox 360 and still want to wreak havoc, then Monster Madness might be a good choice. At least to tide you over until Halo 3 comes out.
Pros: Captures the essence of the classic title Zombies Ate My Neighbors pretty well. Wide variety of enemies requires you to sometimes use a little strategy. Comic-book style graphics look pretty good, and voice acting fits well.
Cons: Many levels feel too similar and monotonous. Weapons upgrading system is a pain in the ass. Would have been great as an Xbox Live Arcade release or bargain-priced game, but as a full $60 game… not so much.
Monster Madness: Battle for Suburbia is rated T (Teen) by the ESRB for Blood, Mild Language, Mild Suggestive Themes, Tobacco Reference and Violence. This game can also be found on: PC.