The vicious cycle of Pixar movies releasing with video games continues with Monsters vs. Aliens, a family-friendly platformer of sorts for a much younger crowd. Developed by Beenox and assisted by a truckload of opening logo sequences, Monsters vs. Aliens is a simplistic game and it is best describe as more of a movie supplement, than an accompanying experience (similar to the Madagascar series). Monsters vs. Aliens follows a group of rag-tag monsters as they try to escape from human captivity and fight aliens along the way.
The fun attribute is build upon three major gameplay mechanics. The first is the blending of a Spy Hunter structure, where the main objective is to dodge obstacles and ram enemies like a runaway freight train; the second combines action elements where beating up foes is a conspicuous way of stimulating your inert boxing instinct to be employed against unyielding forces. The third mechanic revolves around a platforming component in which your primary goal is to infiltrate little areas and happily blow stuff up. Suffice it to say, the game is comprised of twenty or so scenes; therefore, this is not a “budget production”.
Roughly a fourth of these scenes are compacted into one level. As the level progresses, a new chapter unfolds and thrusts players into different environments. The first minutes of the game takes place where the humans have the monsters captive, but shortly after that you’re transported in the San Francisco backdrop – that is how quickly the stage changes! Each level takes advantage of one of the three mentioned mechanics, which gives the game some diversity. The gameplay is easy to pick up, and there is also a nice co-op mode but it is limited in function and only available to certain scenes. The controls are consistent in all levels.
The attack button is the same across each stage, from combat sequences to various platforming elements, making it easy for anyone to adapt to dynamic environments. However simplistic, the game sometimes doesn’t give any hints to make progress nor does it make some of your missions clear. Thankfully, your quest to do well in each level grants you a plethora of extra content. Perfection is sought out in Monsters vs. Aliens. As you make your way through your next mission, you can grab some “power-ups” called monster DNA. The more DNA, the more stuff can be purchased through the in-game extras store.
“Perfection” is introduced via monster DNA multipliers; certain power-ups multiply the amount of monster DNA acquired at the end of the level by how many multipliers are possessed. If the playable character takes damage, they lose a multiplier, and in turn, lose large amounts of monster DNA. The unlockables aren’t cheap, either; achievement junkies will love this game for its extremely rewarding nature. Unfortunately for a Pixar-backed game, Monster vs. Aliens could have used a bit more visual polishing for its console release.
When it comes to presentation, the game seem to be relatively outdated considering we are all used to watching everything in high definition. The sleek animations, nicely modeled characters, and colorful shaders spice up the game a bit. While the cutscenes are amusing to watch, they sometimes look flat visually, which is not what you would expect for a Pixar-based game. Thankfully, the audio in the game has a satisfying grip to it, along with some quality voice acting. All of the levels include a number of interesting dialogues between various characters as they comment on the situation they are in.
The music is alright for the most part, but it could use some extra kick to deepen the experience of the game’s missions and challenges. It’s a big contrast to the sound effects, which does a better job of portraying the action on the screen. Monsters vs. Aliens is a nice family game that provides some relatively fun, wholesome experience; it’s also an outlet for achievement junkies to milk. This is one game that is extremely easy to pick up, while not being completely repetitive or boring. However, the game itself isn’t very long but then you have a chock-full of replay value for achievements. It’s a good package overall and worth a look for those looking into something entertaining for the family.