Monsters vs. Aliens (Wii) Review
Monsters Vs. Aliens (MVA) is a solid action adventure title that is let down mainly by a lack of effort in game design. For a licensed title, MVA is certainly above average, and in many aspects, it is actually a decent game. Enjoying a licensed game is a rare event indeed, but MVA actually manages to entertain for a while. However, the game’s biggest downfall is the repetitive nature of the game. Once you have played through a few levels in MVA, you’ll soon realise that the rest of the game is a carbon copy of the first couple of levels, albeit in different scenery. This is a disappointment to say the least, because for the first hour or so, the game is quite enjoyable, but this enjoyment soon turns to frustration as you realise that another licensed game has ultimately failed.
For those not in the know, MVA is yet another licensed game based on another recently released animated movie. The story in MVA is nothing brilliant, but it is a solid plot that follows the adventures of a group of monsters defending the planet from an alien invasion (who happen to be evil robots). The game allows you to play as each of the key characters in the movie, including Ginormica, a 50-foot tall woman; BOB, a gelatinous blob; and The Missing Link, a half-ape, half fish creature. There is also a co-operative mode whereby a second player can take control of Dr. Cockroach, although playing as Dr Cockroach is limited to collecting DNA (which is used to unlock secrets, etc) in the same vein as collecting stars in Super Mario Galaxy. You can also manipulate items and destroy enemies as Dr Cockroach, though he certainly isn’t as much fun as the main characters. Still, the inclusion of a co-op mode is a nice addition to the game.
Each of the main characters in MVA has a different play mechanic attached to them. Ginormica’s levels have an ’on-rails’ feel to them. Ginormica progresses through the level automatically, and it is up to you to move her left and right, slide along rails and walls, jump obstacles, and smash into enemies. The Missing Link’s stages place more emphasis on combat and platforming, as you run, jump, climb, and smash a barrage of enemies. BOB’s levels are more puzzle based due to BOB’s strange physical make-up. BOB can pass through grates, suck up objects and enemies, and jump from the floor to the roof. Whilst BOB can engage in combat, his levels mainly revolve around solving fairly basic puzzles as you make your way to the end of the level.
Each character in MVA is entertaining in their own right, and the different style of play that each character brings with them gives MVA greater appeal and provides for a more entertaining game. In fact, I enjoyed each character’s level and having the levels broken up character by character made for a more entertaining game overall. Unfortunately, there was little variety in the gameplay despite the different characters. Once you have played a few levels with each character, the game started to feel very repetitive with a change in scenery the only real difference between earlier and later levels. This is disappointing considering the fact that the game is quite enjoyable; a bit more variety in the levels and objectives would have made for a more enjoyable and entertaining game in the end.
Despite the repetitive nature of MVA, there are reasons to keep playing it beyond finishing the game, which will take around about 6 hours or so, depending on skill. Firstly, you are scored on each level based on how well you did in certain aspects such as losing life, collecting DNA, and so on. Hence, you can replay the levels to try and obtain higher scores as well as collecting more DNA. The DNA you collect in the levels can be used in the DNA lab to unlock a wide range of goodies including special challenges, screenshots, and character commentary. The DNA lab is another nice addition to the game and unlocking all that is within the lab adds to the games appeal and shelf life.
Like many Wii games, particularly third party licensed games, MVA suffers from mediocre visuals and sound. Character models are a bit bland, a bit blocky and, well, a bit last-generation. Sound fares a little better. The music is entertaining and fits the game’s overall tone, though it is still a far cry from the musical bliss of games such as the Zelda series. Character voices are not the original movie’s cast, but the stand-ins do a pretty good job. Characters do repeat their lines quite often though, so it becomes somewhat repetitive in the end.
Overall, MVA is a solid action-adventure title that I regard more highly then the vast majority of licensed titles. It is entertaining, enjoyable to play, and provides enough to keep you playing for a while. The repetitive gameplay is a big let down, but with plenty of variety in the game and lots of unlockables, MVA gets a thumbs up. Recommended for fans of the movies and the younger gamers, or those looking for a family friendly, enjoyable, and relatively easy game.
Another game that fails to get the most out of the Wii. No doubt an almost straight port from the PS2.
A solid adventure title with three different play styles, all of which are unique and well executed. Gets very repetitive towards the end, which is a shame.
A decent soundtrack that fits well with the games themes and child friendly image. Voice acting good but repetitive.
Can be finished in a few sittings, but the DNA lab is well designed and has enough material and unlockables to keep you coming back for more.
For a licensed title, Monsters Vs. Aliens is most certainly one of the better titles on the market. Still has its share of flaws, but it is entertaining for the most part and is good purchase for the younger gamer.