Monster House

By on September 29, 2006

Monster House hits the PS2 and we have the review.


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First Impressions
My reaction is

Following the trend of many upcoming and previous movie-based games, Ubisoft has decided to release Monster House on the PS2 way before its movie counterpart is due to hit the silver screens. Although in essence the game would provide spoilers to the actual movie, this occurrence has been cited as a keen marketing strategy by many people. Nevertheless, this introduction is in place to warn you about spoilers that may be present in the following review.

DJ and his friends Chowder and Jessy have discovered that a house in their neighbourhood has come to life! Literally! They call upon the police to do something about it, but even they are swallowed by the house. Halloween’s around the corner and before the kids in the neighbourhood get swallowed for trick or treatin’ its up to DJ and his friends to give the house a much needed makeover.

The game starts with the trio split up and lost in different areas within the house. The game style is similar in principle to that employed by the Resident Evil series; a third-person over the shoulder camera-view is utilised while many of the cut scenes and mini games bare an uncanny resemblance to RE4.

Throughout the course of the game you are put into the shoes of all the three protagonists while finding your way around the house. Hence, you’ll be going through the same rooms quite a few times. All of the three heroes have primary and secondary weapons as well as a melee attack; each of which are unique to the character. For instance DJ’s got a normal water gun whereas Chowder’s got one that splashes. Jessy can sling shot and break locks where as Chowder can slam his big squirty onto monsters for instant kill.

Apart from the monsters, you also get a load of very cool game “elements” (mainly furniture) to blow into pieces. Since your arsenal is mainly water oriented, you can squirt away on flying bat-like books, short-circuit waving lamps or just soak the spiralling wooden floors. As far as innovation goes, the monsters although being mainly designed for the movie are quite well represented here. It’s certainly entertaining to see a chair split into half from its back rest and walk up to you brandishing its new born hands.

Although as neat as this may sound, the game is not without its share of problems. It’s been plagued with a horrible response time that pretty much takes away any fun you might have had experiencing the above. Running around and shooting both the objects on the ground as well as those flying at you is near-impossible. Further crippling the game is the equally shabby lock mechanics.

Then you are faced with the problem of repetitiveness of the baddies. The ‘furniture’ keeps coming at you in loads and it only gets harder to kill them, but there’s nothing new that comes across later. You do have a few move-the-boxes or find-the-key-to-open-this type mini missions but those are either too simple or just not substantial enough to keep you busy for long. Also, adding to the trouble is the immensely ill-devised checkpoint system. You cannot save manually and can only save once you’re inside a washroom. As unique as this may sound it’s extremely troublesome to find the washroom at the right time (pun intended). Worst of all, once you get out of the washroom, you cannot go back into the same one to save the game again, even when you’re in the same room you came into from the toilet.
If anything that is outrageously fantastic it’s the graphics and the environment, bundled with the sound environment. The creepy atmosphere is very well implemented and if you increase the volume you can hear the occasional creaks and moans of the mansion you’re in. Even when intended to creep out the kids, it did well do the same to me; ‘nuff said.

Although being a kid’s game, the overall atmosphere is quite spooky but it fails to provide any gripping game play on part of rudimentary control system and dullness from repetition of enemies. It may invite children for some amount of engaging gaming but there is nothing that would encourage them to come back or play the game longer.

The Scorecard
The slow controls and the recurrence of the furniture monsters as well as the horrible save system cannot be netted off by the phantasmal atmosphere in game.
Good looking stuff with awesome effects.
Definitely the main plus for the game as it is quite immersive and it may end up keeping you on your toes.
Genuine enough but nothing that will keep the player hooked for long.
It may look and sound good, but it doesn’t play as well.
A decent movie tie-in with a share of technical flaws but presentational brilliance. Light hearted and short playing gamers are invited.


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