Somewhere a game designer is weeping soft tears into their pillow. This game starts with a great concept, mix and match body parts to create a unique monster, then go fight other monsters. It even uses a rock, paper, scissors system on body parts to add depth to the simple system. Then, apparently, a bunch of marketing execs got their hands on it and said, "Mini-games! kids love mini-games!". After the first few parts I created in the lab I stopped just to avoid playing the mini-games. Then there's the mission structure, "Go do this, get me a sandwich, pick up my dry cleaning..." it's despicable. This should've been a slam dunk, but Eidos crammed in too many low quality mechanics and story points to still have this game be any fun.
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The monsters have come alive in a cross between a simplified Final Fantasy and Frankenstein. Monster Lab at heart is just a RTS game where you create a monster and unleash it onto the world to fight other monsters (either controlled by the AI or another player). When you win, you get parts that you can place together to make your monster stronger, faster, and more resistant to damage. Or you can creature a brand new monster How do you do make those parts? By playing mini games that will have you hammering nails, smashing robots or guiding a wheel through an obstacle course. They're short, but fun. There's some sort of story about other mad scientists out to take over the world and you're out to stop them. And there are a many objectives for you to take on. But they're just excuses to get you into the battles, which play out like a simplified RTS; you attack, the other monster attacks, then you attack again and the monster attacks again, and so on. The battle rages on until one of you loses all health in your monster's chest and loses the battle. Be prepared to fight a lot; random encounters occur very frequently; too frequently for my tastes. But there's some joy in seeing your foe fly into many pieces when you deliver the final blow. And there's a huge selection of parts for you to make and attacks for you to discover in Monster Lab. But, those who are not fans of the "Take your turn by selecting an attack" sort of game like Final Fantasy will want to avoid this one. Still, I say rent Monster Lab, give it a test drive, and see if you like it.