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It might come as a shocking surprise but the movie tie-in for Monsters vs Aliens is a pretty entertaining experience. My time with the game was kept fresh and interesting with its three distinct level types and I found the feel of the movie was retained perfectly. Ignoring the pointless mini-game Monster Challenges, finishing the game with my son in co-op was a thoroughly enjoyable experience.
Starting off by breaking out of a military base, the game introduces Ginormica's level first. I have to admit that I found this simple, on-rails racer quite a lot of fun to play. Dodging lasers, jumping and grinding on walls or rails and smashing through enemy robots was all entertaining stuff. Even when I had to follow on-screen button prompts, which are usually a pain, the game was involving enough for it to be fun.
The other two styles of gameplay were more typical of a movie tie-in affair. The beat ‘em platformer as The Missing Link and a puzzle platformer as B.O.B. the blob. Crawling along as a super-powered lizard and smashing everything up as The Missing Link was probably the most enjoyable section of the game.
These levels never did anything amazing or innovative but not many kids are going to complain when you can bash up missile turrets or unscrew sections of a giant robot. In fact we both had great fun scaling the enormous enemies and meeting out punishment in all directions. When the screen veered off to convey the giddy angles, it was easily the best and most involved experience of the game.
I had a great time playing with my son or just helping him out when the puzzle stages got too much.
The blob's levels were much different. Although they were in similar environments the game turned from a brawler into a puzzle-based platformer. As B.O.B. can go through grills or eat crates to become solid, these levels were an interesting break from the fighting. They were also the ones I was called upon most to play as a Dad. The puzzles themselves weren't too hard but the controls on some of the later levels started to get tricky. Jumping up on walls or ceilings soon made directional input a hit and miss affair. Although there's little penalty for dying it doesn't take away the frustration of falling off a platform because the camera switched position and changed the direction I was moving in.
My other small complaint came when I got round to unlocking content. The Monster Challenges are poor and are just repeat the previous played levels with some restrictions placed on them. Completing these was the only way to unlock character enhancements or the co-op ability. I feel if you're going to have some form of co-op in the game then at least make it available from the start.
But the fact the game has some decent variety to its levels is a real strength. I had a great time playing with my son or just helping him out when the puzzle stages got too much. It retains the feel of the film with its visuals and the excellent voice acting ensured an enjoyable experience for both of us.
With so many different perspectives it can be hard to know where to start - a little like walking into a crowded pub. Sorry about that.
But so far we've not found a way to streamline our review output - there's basically too much of it. So, rather than dilute things for newcomers we have decided to live with the hubbub while helping new readers find the columnists they will enjoy.
Our columnists each focus on a particular perspective and fall into one of the following types of gamers: