Reviewed: March 25, 2009
Released: March 25, 2009
This Friday DreamWorks will invade theaters and our entire planet as aliens once again try to wipe out the human race Ė in 3D! Only this time itís not Bruce Willis or Will Smith coming to our rescue. The fate of Earth is in the hands of B.O.B., The Missing Link, Ginormica, Insectosaurus, and Dr. Cockroach, a ragtag bunch of monsters our government has been hiding in a top-secret underground vault somewhere out in the desert.
Playing Monsters vs. Aliens brought back strong memories of another DS game I played a few months ago, Transformers Animated: The Game. Both titles shared similar gameplay design in that you were working with multiple characters in a cooperative effort to achieve the same goal. While you obviously canít do as much on the DS as you can on the big consoles, Amaze has been able to make good use of the DS-specific hardware and throw in a few exclusive characters from the movie who are now playable.
The premise is simple, although having not seen the movie I canít vouch for how close the game follows the film. Iím guessing, as with most DreamWorks game adaptations there have been liberties taking with the script to include locations and events not seen in the movie, or at least I hope so otherwise there will be no surprises for me this Friday.
Each of the five playable characters has special abilities and a distinct playing style. Ginormica and The Missing Linkís levels are side-scrollers with combat and item collection aspects and even a bit of roller-skating action for Susan. B.O.B.ís levels are a bit slower and exploratory, especially since he can stick to walls and ceilings giving his levels much more verticality. He can also swallow and spit items and enemies and ooze through cracks in solid surfaces.
While he appears on the console you can only play Insectosaurus on the DS and his levels are more isometric 3D in nature, allowing you to stomp through cities Godzilla-style and do battle with all sorts of even alien robots. Expect plenty of collateral damage in the process. And finally we have Dr. Cockroach, the brains of the operation. You donít exactly get to ďplayĒ this character but he does have several touchscreen-based mini-games and puzzles that you will need to complete as you make your way through the story.
Monsters vs. Aliens makes modest use of some DS features like the touchscreen while it almost totally ignores the duel screens for any real value in custom gameplay. A few special functions and moves are assigned to the touch screen and The Missing Link even has a move assigned to the microphone but all of these can just as easily be executed with the face buttons making the whole thing seem rather forced, much like the Wii version.
Visually, the game is about average for the DS. It has a good mix of 2D and 3D elements but nothing really stands out. The character art and animation offer good movie likenesses and the levels range from simple and bland to moderately interesting, especially B.O.B.ís more intricate 3D levels. The isometric Insectosaurus levels are also pretty clever. The sound is nicely done with a great soundtrack, immersive sound effects and some quality voice work.
Activision has another solid movie-licensed game ready for fans of the upcoming movie. Monsters vs. Aliens might not be the most complicated or involved game out there for the DS, but fans of the film (mostly kids) will certainly enjoy reliving their favorite battle from the movie and solving some intriguing puzzles. Most of all, the game is fun and thatís all that matters.