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Monsters vs. Aliens Box Art
Beenox Games

Monsters vs. Aliens

Monsters vs. Aliens is the latest blockbuster animated feature from Dreamworks Pictures. As expected, Dreamworks (through publisher Activision) has unloaded a multiplatform smorgasbord of movie tie-ins on a variety of consoles and handhelds. Much like the movie, which was only mildly received in the entertainment press, so is this Wii adaptation only a passable, short-lived diversion.


Dreamworks games on Wii, such as Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa and Kung-Fu Panda, have acquitted themselves pretty well visually. Monsters vs. Aliens is no different; while it canít hope to reproduce the glossy visuals of the movie, the game nevertheless does a reasonable imitation, with decent textures, some good motion, and a couple pretty nice pieces of cinematography. The gameís PS2-ness (all the console versions, from PS2 to Xbox 360, all used many of the same common assets) does keep this from being Wiiís most polished, but it also looks better than much of the poor work done on Wii to date.


The sound in the game is actually pretty outstanding. The music is fully orchestrated and sets an epic tone with some really excellent hooks. The voicework appears to be voiced by the same people as the movie, and they play their parts with passion and polish. One of the unlockables is a series of ďaudio commentariesĒ with each level; these tongue-in-cheek voice-overs run during repeat playthroughs of a stage and some of them are quite funny.


Monsters v. Aliens is based around some of the larger events in the movie of the same name, focusing primarily on the escape from prison and the battle with the aliens. In the process, players take on the role of one of three different characters: Ginormica (Susan), B.O.B., and the Missing Link. The whole package encompasses some sixteen or so different stages, each of which is of moderate length. The end total is a game that can be beaten in about five or six hours.


Gameplay is dependable but also pretty repetitive. Susanís levels are on-rails racers where she roller skates through treacherous terrain, B.O.B.ís levels primarily involve swallowing objects and navigating some mild platforming, and the Missing Linkís levels are mostly action with some mild puzzling. The levels cycle through the characters in turn but the overall effect is a game which goes back and forth between racing, platforming, and action. The formula works well enough on paper, but after about two or three hours it all starts to feel pretty mundane; aside from a change in scenery, for example, Susanís levels seem dreadfully similar to each other.

The controls, for their part, are pretty dependable. Some actions are mapped to button presses, while others are tied to waggle, and all of them are responsive. The motion controls actually are fun to use and give the game a decidedly Wii-centric flair. There is some IR as well, although its uses are limited to a couple of special attacks and to the second player in co-op (more on that in a moment).


There are some extras that help to add some depth to the experience. The currency of the game is called DNA points, which can be accrued through in-game actions (killing enemies, collecting orbs) as well as post-stage bonuses (good player health, using co-op play). DNA can be used in the DNA lab to unlock a variety of different extras ranging from concept art to bonus challenges to character upgrades. Most of it is window dressing -- even the character upgrades arenít really needed to beat the game -- but they do add some padding to the short title.


Monsters vs. Aliens serves out cooperative multiplayer using the same ďhand of GodĒ approach as Super Mario Galaxy, and it works quite well. While the first player controls the primary character, the second gamer takes on the role of Dr. Cockroach. The second player can initially only shoot at the screen using a blaster via IR control, but in time the player can also unlock a tractor beam and other add-ons to make things more interesting. Thereís not much to it, but it works quite well and is a great way to employ Wii controls for a simplified multiplayer experience. As with Galaxy, the second player is an ideal place for an adult to provide assistance to a young player by clearing out objects and enemies.


Monsters vs. Aliens isnít a bad game, especially for the younger target audience it is oriented toward. It also isnít a great game, as it is pretty short and generally repetitive. Younger gamers who are enamored with the movie and want more will find this diversion entertaining, although it is a pretty brief package to justify a $50 price tag.

final score 5.0/10

Staff Avatar Joshua Johnston
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"Round 1! Fight!"

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