IGN Review of Monsters vs. Aliens
I don't know why I expected Monsters vs. Aliens to be a good game. Maybe it's because the development studio behind it, Griptonite, was more than capable of making a solid game, as they proved with the vastly superior DS version of Spider-Man: Web of Shadows. Clearly Monsters vs. Aliens piggybacks off the engine used for Spidey's outing (I could even swear some of the moves The Missing Link uses were lifted straight from ol' Webhead's outing), but whatever polish and charm that game had was siphoned off in favor of just pumping out another licensed pile o' crap.
The entire game can be tackled in one sitting, blazed through in just a few hours (give or take depending on how stumped you get by a difficulty spike in some of Dr. Cockroach's puzzles mid-game). By "blazed through," I'm talking about unlocking every health, attack and special power upgrade for Ginormica, The Missing Link and B.O.B., plus buying all of Dr. Cockroach's puzzles. This is literally the kind of game you give to a kid to shut them up for a few hours, and depending on their age may actually count as a form of child abuse in some countries.
Let's break down each of the different modes. For Ginormica, there are a couple of side-scrolling bits that require some pretty precise platform jumping and a few more levels where the touch screen is used to clumsily try to slide her left and right while scooping up Monster DNA (the game's unlockables currency). The Missing Link feels pulled right from the Spidey games right down to his ability to stick to walls, yet the combat is as trite and boring as you can get, involving only smacking around some robots with basic combat and spitting by blowing into the mic. B.O.B.'s levels could easily be swapped out for The Missing Link's if not for the fact that he can stick to background layers and pass through grates while jumping around and sticking to stuff (both of which are clunky and at times take multiple tries to actually take).
I realize I've just sort of nonchalantly rattled off the names of the characters from the big screen flick without actually introducing them or explaining their purpose, but that's in keeping with the game, which ham-fists a "story" into things. Again, had Griptonite not already proven they were capable of much, much more, I probably wouldn't be so harsh, but they can, and every part of the game feels slapped together just to satisfy the requisite SKU quota for Activision's Dreamworks CG Animated Kids Flick: The Videogame. This extends right down to the sloppy cutscenes (though they're at least voiced well enough).
All of the game's little bits of clunkiness, frustration and boredom comes to a head in the game's final battles. The Missing Link is forced to fight a trio of enemy waves without a health recharge without much in the way of cover or means of retreating; B.O.B.'s sections suddenly lack a solid grasp of triggers for moving from one surface to the next; and Ginormica is saddled with clunky platforming, enemies that hit her when she's already stunned as she tries to destroy enemy creation machines to distract the final boss. None of these sections is fun, much less feeling like a culmination of the events prior.
These inconsistencies extend to the aforementioned puzzle bits for Dr. Cockroach, who has to move around reflective mirrors to bounce energy orbs from a turret to hit green gates. Midway through his puzzles, things seemed to spike for me before falling back to becoming easier than they were even at the start, like Griptonite just kind of gave up midway through designing 'em. About the only parts that do stay consistent are the ones where you control Insectosaurus (something you can't do in the console versions), but these are such mindless, plodding, literal Point A to Point B segments that they could have been left out without ever really affecting the game one way or the other.
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