Game Reviews

Monster Madness THD

Star onStar halfStar offStar offStar off
| Monster Madness
Monster Madness THD
| Monster Madness

The creator of Monster Madness promises that the game will give you a “console experience in your hand”.

It should have said, “the same mediocre game you played on a console in 2007, only much, much worse”.

SouthPeak Games’s Tegra 2-exclusive title is a mostly ugly, near unplayable mess of a twin-stick shooter that’s beset with bugs, controller issues, and a brutal difficulty curve.

Unreal suburbs

Astonishingly, Monster Madness is running on Epic’s ultra-solid Unreal 3 engine – the same middleware used to power the significantly better Dungeon Defenders series – but you’d be hard pushed to notice.

Playing on a solid-spec Asus Transformer and Optimus 2x, the framerate chugs almost constantly and the characters and environments lack the appealing chunkiness and gloss normally associated with Unreal 3 titles.

Instead, the numerous enemies (of which there are more than 80, ranging from standard zombies to giant spiders, and some more creative critters) move with all the juddering grace of a middle-aged man on a wedding dance floor. Meanwhile, textures constantly pop in and out, and enemy spawn points appear as placeholder black-and-white gashes.

It’s a shame, as the premise of suburban teenagers fighting to reclaim their hometown from the grip of a monster outbreak is solid B-movie stuff, with plenty of scope for a horror comedy mash-up not seen since the likes of Zombies Ate My Neighbours on the Sega Mega Drive

Smash and grab

To eradicate the menace, you have to pick from one of four American teen clichés (geek, skateboarder, cynical Goth girl, and a shrieking cheerleader) to battle with across five monster-packed suburban locations – smashing a fair bit of destructible scenery along the way to gather loot to spend on weapon upgrades.

You can play with a friend in two player co-op, but it hardly improves matters as you both chug along.

Movement is handled with a relatively decent virtual pad on the left, but melee and ranged combat using a second controller on the right is far less reliable.

Rather than including any auto-targeting, the game forces you to aim manually – which is fine in a dual-stick shooter with a smooth framerate, but disastrous to co-ordinate as you and the monsters lurch around the screen.

The camera does little to help, preferring as it does to take its time to catch up with you and spin the wrong way when you’re at risk of being surrounded. Switching between weapons, meanwhile, involves awkward menu-tapping (normally when you’re being eaten)

It’s disappointing, as the ability to pick up ad hoc weaponry (like chainsaws and tennis rackets), upgrade your armoury of makeshift nail guns, flamethrowers, and explosives, and customise your character with more than 100 power-ups suggests there’s some depth hidden behind the spluttering game engine.

Mad to buy it

With games like Riptide GP, we’ve seen just what graphical splendour and performance the Tegra 2 can achieve, so it’s clear the problems with Monster Madness stem more from rushing out a console port than hardware limitations.

Like Frankenstein’s monster, it’s a flawed experiment that SouthPeak Games needs to patch up before Android gamers come after it with flaming torches.

Monster Madness THD

With ugly visuals, cumbersome gameplay, and scores of bugs to unwittingly find, this monstrously awful console port needs to crawl back into the hole it came from
Paul Devlin
Paul Devlin
A newspaper reporter turned games journo, Paul's first ever console was an original white Game Boy (still in working order, albeit with a yellowing tinge and 30 second battery life). Now he writes about Android with a style positively dripping in Honeycomb, stuffed with Gingerbread and coated with Froyo