Like most animated movies that come out these days, DreamWorks’ Monsters vs. Aliens was also released for many game systems. Based on the characters and general plot of the movie, the game takes you into the world of five monsters who are forced to become heroes when aliens invade planet Earth.
The game itself is a basic platforming game in which you can play as three of the five monsters: Susan/Ginormica, the 49ft 11inch tall woman who utilizes jeeps for roller skates; the Missing Link, who is part fish and part ape; and B.O.B., a gelatinous mass with one eye who can walk on ceilings and walls. Your guide throughout the game is Dr. Cockroach. Occasionally the fifth monster, Insectasaurus, needs your help. It is primarily a single player game, but there is a co-op mode that I will touch on in a bit.
All levels involving Susan’s character are skating levels. This gets a little mundane as every level is essentially the same. You change locales of course as the plot progresses, but she can never seem to get the skates off of her feet. When you play as the Missing Link you have the most freedom. He possesses the most number of attack moves and was the character I enjoyed playing the most. Full of witty and sarcastic comments, the Missing Link is strong, fast, and has a move that slows down time for a bit, Matrix-style. The levels you play with him also are a bit repetitive and you start to wonder why the side of a government robot looks almost identical to that of the alien robot. As B.O.B. you are either maneuvering through areas riddled with grates that you fall through unless you are holding something inside yourself – be it a baddie or a box. Some levels are more complex than others in which they throw in mazes littered with grates, exploding boxes, and bad guys. You also have the ability to use a plasma turret as B.O.B. When you come to these parts of the level you are stuck on the turret with the ability to shoot or form a protective shield around yourself. There is something fun about spitting plasma at helicopters and alien technology to destroy it.
As you go through out each level as the different characters you are collecting monster DNA which is used essentially like cash to buy extras and challenge modes. You get multipliers that help up your DNA count – this is where a second player actually does come in handy because they can grab hard to get DNA multipliers. At the end of each level you get a point tally that gives out bonuses for varying things and lets you know your DNA balance and gives you the choice to progress in the game or go to the DNA lab. One neat thing the developers threw in was if you had any other DreamWorks game saves on your hard drive you get an automatic 90,000 point bonus at the end of each level for being a ‘DreamWorks’ fan. You also get a bonus when you play though with two players. When you go to the DNA lab you will likely be irritated with the way it is structured, you have to buy or beat certain things before you can go on to the next cluster in the strand. A lot of times I just wanted to play another challenge but had to waste my hard earned DNA on concept art. The challenges are just time or goal re-hashes of the levels you already played.
There is a co-op mode that is different that most traditional co-op modes I have played before. When you have a second player, the first is the monster you would be playing in the single player game, but the second player is Dr. Cockroach. You can’t see him or control his movement, but you do have a triangle that you move around that you can use to shoot enemies, boxes, jeeps, etc. and use it to pick up DNA pieces. You are just basically there to assist player one, not the most exciting way to play co-op, but a nice option as a parent helping out a younger kid.
The game play is not difficult to master, my five-year-old son could play through most levels on his own. There were a few instances when you had to match button sequences to progress that threw him off, but it was a fun and easy game to pick up. No complicated control schemes to master and you have Dr. Cockroach around to make sure you always know what it is you are to be doing. Overall, I would say I enjoyed playing through Monsters vs. Aliens and would recommend it to other gamers who are fans of DreamWorks or have younger kids and are looking for a fun and easy game for their kids to play.