Monster Madness - updated impressions

It's every teenager's dream - you and three of your friends are left alone in the house, nay, alone in the neighborhood with nary an authority figure in sight. You've got free reign, no one to tell you what to do, and you're feelin' fine. Sounds pretty sweet, until the monsters show up. Insane, undead monsters. Then you and your friends are forced to run around all crazy, fending off the demon hordes with whatever you can get your hands on, trying to figure out just what the hell is going on. Welcome to Monster Madness: Battle for Suburbia.

From the moment the first knock-kneed, lurching zombie stumbled through our door, we were impressed by our ability to smoothly maneuver our awkward teenage character. Side-stepping the undead and rapidly beating them to a pulp with our cheerleading batons came quite easily, and that's not just because we were members of the color guard in high school. The accessibility of the control scheme makes it easy for folks to pick up the control and join in the mayhem, a key success in a game that hopes to rope in four players at a time.

Exiting our teen's suburban home, we found the streets outside to be full of activity. Elements of this "activity" include breakable items (garbage cans, mailboxes), collectable items (pipe, wire, screws), and, of course, monsters. There were also broken down cars and wire-barbed roadblocks, as much indicators of general chaos as level boundaries. Trees, fences, telephone poles, and all the other landmarks of suburbia completed the landscape.

The aesthetic impression is one of cartoonish busyness that, at times, threatened to overwhelm us as we tried to keep track of everything on screen. Things settled down when we learned to prioritize - vanquish fiends, THEN scour for items. It made for a more manageable experience, and allowed us to get our bearings before later levels - and more players - taught us the meaning of the word "frantic."