Electronic Theatre In-depth Review: Monster House

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Rating: 5.0/5 (1 vote cast)

rumass.jpg (1560 bytes)The summer is in full-swing now and the blockbusters are coming in thick-and-fast. Sure enough, quick to cash-in on big screen success, the Film Licence games are flooding to shelves. From mortally dull and rank-average to occasionally quite fun, the year has seen a variety of multi-format Film Licence titles such as The Da Vinci Code, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, Disney/Pixar: Cars and Alex Rider: Stormbreaker. Despite their dubious quality, no-one should complain, in some cases they are the only thing keeping certain formats alive! Joining the pack this week is Monster House, the game of the kid’s film due  for release on 11th August, 2006.

The player takes control of the three main characters from the film, DJ, Chowder and Jenny, although not necessarily in that order. Monster House follows the same plot as the film, armed with Water Pistols, three Electronic Theatre Imagechildren take on a possessed house that is going to eat trick-or-treaters on Halloween. This translates into game terms as a Third-Person Action/Adventure trying to be a Survival Horror and to some degree, has been successful. The player views the action from a low angle giving the game an atmospheric feel, although there are not many shocks, likely due to the target audience. The game uses standard analogue controls to move with the Face Buttons dealing with firing and other actions. The game features an Auto-Lock-On that starts as soon as you shoot an enemy and works reasonably well, although can become a little unwieldy when many enemies are present. Each character has a different Primary and Secondary Weapon, for instance, DJ has a Rifle-like Water Pistol and a Flash Camera that stuns enemies, whereas Chowder’s Water Gun functions similar to a Shotgun and also fires Water Balloons. Despite the games obvious attempts at Survival Horror, each characters Primary Weapon has unlimited ammunition, although the player must keep up Water Pressure through the occasional press of Triangle. Secondary ammunition is limited to five shots, but is not hard to find. Unfortunately there are also not many different enemies for the player to shoot, most are either possessed chairs or lamps. The lack of variety of your foes is not the only issue with Monster House, and many are those that seem to befall many Film Licences.

For a start, Monster House is very short and most experienced players should see it off in less than five hours, maybe even four. It also attempts the interactive Cut-Scenes seen in Lara Croft; Tomb Raider: Legend and originating – in this generation – from Resident Evil 4, however unlike the aforementioned titles, Monster House does not place Checkpoints near these locations, nor does it warn the player in any way, making these occurrences seem a little harsh for a children’s game. Some of the Weapon Upgrades also seem very tacked-on, with most offering only a slight improvement in firepower that affects gameplay very little. There are many other issues including Chowder’s Water Bomb Launcher firing in a fixed trajectory regardless of the Lock-On, making it ineffective after the first shot, Collision Detection is also quite below par making some enemies very difficult and frustrating to destroy.

Although the environments and characters certainly look like their film counterparts, Monster House’s presentation is not particularly good. There are multiple cases of Polygon Cross-Pollination and poor animation and occasional Frame-Rate problems, probably down to a lack of polish in the final stages of development. Although obviously there are constraints in making a game the takes place in a single house, it still seems a little stingy to see the same rooms – complete with the same enemies – reused severalElectronic Theatre Image times for each character. Thankfully Monster House features official Voice Acting and music from the film, so in principle the game should sound good, unfortunately Monster House is marred with a glitch that can lead to sound effects being endlessly replayed, a forgivable bug if infrequent – as in Perfect Dark Zero – but as it happens almost every Level, can not be ignored.

Monster House is a surprisingly atmospheric game and with some polish could have been up to the standard of it’s sister-rival Disney/Pixar: Cars. As it stands it’s multiple glitches and the short length of Monster House has almost certainly doomed it to be forgotten in the tide of substandard Film Licences. Electronic Theatre Image










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