Electronic Theatre In-depth Review: Monster House

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Rating: 3.5/5 (2 votes cast)

Electronic Theatre Image           In the midst of summer generally console releases tend to slow down to a trickle, where movie-tie ins become a more frequent occurrence whilst we wait for autumns big releases such  as Reservoir Dogs and Saints Row. We have recently seen Disney/Pixar: Cars and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest so it no surprise we have a tie-in based on the latest children’s film release Monster House. Based on the film, the game sees you play as three children; DJ, Jenny and Chowder – with actionElectronic Theatre Image frequently switching between the three – in your quest to get out of the house which has eaten you. Your mission in this game is, unsurprisingly is to get out of the house and destroy it in the process, before it has the chance to eat many innocent trick-or-treaters on Halloween. As a simple game for children, the title tries to keep the player on edge using a dimly lit atmospheric setting and players regularly find ordinary household items turning into their next enemy; whether it be a chair, pieces of floorboard or a lamp, with their only defence being Water Pistols. DJ has the standard type of Water Gun, with the other children have a variation on the standard. Jenny has one which resembles a semi-automatic gun, shooting out five rounds per button press and Chowder’s Shotgun Water Pistol is more powerful close-up but less accurate. Each has a Secondary Weapon which works with a varying amount of success, Jenny’s Slingshot works well as an explosive bullet, Chowder’s Water Balloons work well as a bomb if you can actually aim it at something and DJ’s Instant Camera is used to stun enemies, but is mostly ineffectual. Ammunition is unlimited but you must keep the pressure-up in your Water Gun by reloading with the B Button, each gun using a different amount of water per shot; Secondary Weapons only hold five Rounds but they are easily found in one of the many shining chests or by smashing vases. Aiming with the gun features an Auto Lock-On which kicks-in when you shoot in the general direction of an enemy. This mainly works well, yet if you have multiple enemies it will just aim at the one closest to you, which is not necessarily what you want to be shooting at. The arc of the aim can be changed at will, with the simple push of the X Button, but very often you find yourself in a corner just shooting and hoping for the best. However players will find themselves relying on this Auto Lock-On as there is actually no way of manually aiming the gun at foes – a lacking feature which is disappointing and frustrating at times. This game clearly is attempting to take-on the Survival Horror genre and repackage it in a less scary way for children. From the actually quite creepy circus in the basement which just reeked of Silent Hill to the ramblings, particularly from Chowder that “this can’t be happening” reminiscent of Eternal Darkness and of course the moments in Resident Evil 4 which required the player to quickly push a button or combination of buttons in a short Cut-Scene in order to avoid being flattened by rocks. However this quick button press just isn’t that great in Monster House, as these moments come mainly out-of-the-blue (at least in Resident Evil 4 there was generally a marker on the path to tell you when to expect the Cut-Scene or something dangerous in your path) and as there is very often no Checkpoint close by if you get it wrong, resulting in you being sent back to the beginning of the Level. One nice-touch which has been done many times previous is the Force Feedback which makes the controller rumble with a heartbeat, even if it not the most well-placed. It seems to happen when a character is scared but it feels out-of-place as it is not an indication of low Health, nor does it indicate there are many enemies close by. Electronic Theatre Image Health is easy to find with the developers having placed Soda Pop or Ice Cream strategically around in Boss fights or putting them in your path when you must clear a room before it will allow you to move on. The Level before last is really the only Level to keep the player truly engaged with it testing your reactions as you run away from the House which is chasing you down the street. In this you must press the A, X and Y Buttons when prompted to make the characters avoid obstacles in order to run away. This is followed by perhaps the worst Level in the whole game with you actually having to destroy the House with a bulldozer, which is nothing more than move forward, hit the House, move back to avoid the House’s attacks, which has to be the most uninspired Final Boss we have seen in a game in a long while. Graphically this game is nothing special, offering an average reflection on what the Current-Generation’s consoles have to offer. Polygon Cross-Pollination is fairly frequent with enemies, particularly with the lamps hitting you through walls and chairs can sometimes go right through blockades. Certain things, such as leaves when you are in the basement, take on a distinct blocky appearance. The sounds for this title are very well done, with you hearing when floorboards are ripped-up and the metallic creaking of pipes as they come out of the ground. The vocalisations characters make work effectively; with the disbelief when characters see a room full of marauding chairs adding a realistic perspective to the unfolding drama. Their smug comments when fighting a Boss though are just too cheesy to add anything except a roll of the eyes and a silent “shut up”. While fans of the Motion Picture may enjoy the chance to relive the movie, visiting the different areas of the House and discovering what makes the House so haunted in, actually quite a macabre way; those who want a game to play to tide them over until the large autumn releases would be better waiting. Dead Rising is only three weeks away and, as technically it’s still summer it may be time to actually concede to the idea of getting out in the sun, and playing on your NintendoDS. Electronic Theatre Image










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