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Monster Madness hands-on

Undead creatures have taken over a neighborhood. All the adults have disappeared without a trace, leaving just four teenage misfits to puzzle out what happened. And in the case of Monster Madness, an upcoming top-down shooter from Southpeak, "puzzling out what happened" means "blasting monsters into bloody chunks."

At first glance, Monster Madness is a fast-paced, top-down shooter in the mold of old-school classics like Smash TV and Zombies Ate My Neighbors, with players able to aim in a circle with the analog stick and let loose with a volley of unpleasantness. But the game is based on the Unreal 3 engine, meaning that you can expect plenty of depth, detail and interactive environments. Also, unlike the old games that inspired it, Monster Madness is fully 3D, with players able to aim high or low.



We've tried out the game's four-player deathmatch and two-player co-op modes on a PC, and while it's not due out until February 2007, the game already looks to be a lot of fun. The graphics are detailed and smoothly animated (as you'd expect from a next-gen game), and the levels are filled with hazards like speeding cars (driven by monsters, apparently), pools of acid and hard-to-see guillotines.

The controls were smooth and easy to get the hang of, and we got to blast zombies and werewolves with a nice selection of firearms including nail guns, shotguns and rocket launchers. Additionally, each of the four teens - who are rendered in a style somewhere between anime and graffiti - carries a sword, axe or other close-up weapon for when ammo runs low.

We're told that, in the final game, players will be able to upgrade their weapons with random items hidden throughout the story mode; extra nails or duct tape might enhance the nail gun's ammo capacity or rate of fire, for example. Also, the characters will eventually be granted the ability to transform into different monsters - including werewolves and mummies - that will give them an edge in tight situations. Finally, the game won't purely be a shooter, as the developers promise that the final game will include lots of puzzles and hidden nooks to explore.

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