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Monster Madness: Grave Danger brought back memories of smokey arcades and afternoons spent huddled round a cigarette stained Gauntlet machine. I managed to re-ignite my top down shooting enjoyment, although now I found it harder to find enough mates with time to play with me.
I had missed out on the previous incarnation of this game (battle for Suburbia) and was eager to have a stab (literally) at this latest offering by Psyonix studios, released in late 2008. In recent reviews I have had a tendency to have a bit of a dig at mindlessly violence, although I used to love playing them as a kid. They seem to win loads of plaudits so why not have a bash at taking out some zombies?
The latest version sports a four player co-opertive mode (including online play) and 25 or so challenge modes to complement the main adventure. You choose one of four characters and make your way through 5 chapters, each with some kind of suburban overtone such as high school, park etc. After about ten minutes I couldn't help but think "this is a cross between My name is Earl and Shaun of the dead" - but all rolled into a top-down shooter style video game.
This is a cross between My name is Earl and Shaun of the dead.
Weapons and moves depend on your choice of character, and further weapons can be built on each level by utilising Larry's van. Larry is a gravely voiced biker type that builds weapons in exchange for monster tokens. Scenery items can be picked up and lobbed at zombies but tend not to do much damage during extreme battles. For those of you that do love your zombie bashing, I'm sure you will enjoy the array of weapons and special moves on offer, nail guns, lasers, axes etc.
There are some slick comic scenes in between the action albeit slightly lengthy, but the overall cartoon style of the game does seem to work. The actual adventure is not particularly exciting and gets boring pretty quickly. I personally found many of the enemies and bosses pretty hard to defeat, but the respawn on the spot feature put me off trying too hard. I also found that not enough in game guidance was provided, this coupled with the redraw errors added to the frustration. It would also have been nice to be able to play whatever stage of the adventure you are at with a different character, rather than having to unlock the levels again with each character.
The voice cast provide added humour and a little mirth along the way, but during long fights the repetitive nature of the speech can be irritating. Some of the action is broken up by the necessity to navigate boats, jeeps and stuff along the way and this provides a nice diversion from the mundane violence. I mentioned that up to four players can partake in the fun, and a very handy feature is that they can join at any time.
If you mix this game with any combination of students/alcohol/multiplayer/party then you will probably have a great laugh.
The adventure modes are a welcome addition, you are required to try and beat your score on an imaginative array of challenges. These include zombie dodgeball, and white water rafting. The best graphics have unfortunately been reserved for this part of the game.
Although Grave Danger never loses its humour it lacks that extra spark and needs to take advantage of the PS3's capabilities a bit more. There is hope though, if you mix this game with any combination of students/alcohol/multiplayer/party then you will probably have a great laugh. As a single player game though, it just isn't particularly satisfying.
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