Published on March 21st, 2012 | by Matthew Gildea1
Monstermind ‘Campaign Mode’: Review
Fresh on the back of winning their first video game BAFTA award, Bossa Studios is hard at work, gifting Monstermind players their first, large content update, with quite an offering.
Whilst it has consistently tinkered with its formula, introducing new buildings, monsters and even a storage system into the mix, Monstermind has largely remained the same. Build, maintain, and destroy. You either attack a friend’s town, the default character’s town, or more recently introduced, a random Monstermind gamer from around the world’s town. However you played, it was all about playing with other gamers. Well, enraging them.
It’s not always a good thing though. In competitive games like this, newer players can find themselves heavily out of their depth, without any chance of establishing a foothold. My friends struggled to even reach my town; such was the strength of fortification from my hours of playing. Meanwhile, I mercilessly destroyed their towns at will, simply because I was heavily financed and they were not. It demoralises newer gamers and makes them struggle to find an incentive to continue playing.
Monstermind did try and relieve this by offering experience points to gamers when their monsters or buildings were destroyed. But, it still didn’t quite bridge the gap in quality between gamers. Now however, with the introduction of a fully-fledged campaign mode, new gamers will be able to learn the tricks of the trade, as well as earn experience, money and objects, in a much more advanced and interesting avenue than replaying the tutorial. You’ll even encounter a few unfriendly faces along the way.
Starting with the most basic of introductions – destroying a town hall – you are led on a series of missions that even the newest players will easily complete. It soon becomes a logic puzzle though, as you traverse ever more difficult missions. It’s not just a destruction-fest like the ‘regular’ Monstermind mode. Here, you must carefully carve your way through the enemy towns, destroying particular buildings whilst leaving others intact – all dependent on what your objectives brief tells you. It’s a very delicate operation, and you’ll find yourself planning out attacks in a much more sophisticated manner than when you unleashed twenty giant apes on your friend’s town.
You’re attack force is also limited going in to each mission. Whereas in regular play you can swamp opponents with hordes of creatures, the missions have a minimum requirement of entry. You must be able to purchase all of the creatures in the minimum requirement that it asks you to, and you can only use those ones. So, if you’re losing monsters during a mission, you cannot simply buy some more to aid your offence. You’re left to try and fend for whatever experience you can snatch before your dwindling forces are obliterated. It’s frustrating at times, and incredibly thought-provoking. Veterans who are looking for an extra challenge will relish the thought of this.
Sometimes though, you do feel a little lost on missions, and their ruthless nature means one slight error can be fatal to your plans, and losing money as a consequence can be devastating if the missions are your main source of income; for some players, especially new gamers, this could be your sole source. You are slowly built up to this point, but even for veteran Monstermind players, there’ll be some times when you’ll have to pick up the pieces and start afresh.
As you level up, new regions with new missions become accessible, as you can now purchase the minimum monster requirements to begin. As each mission rewards you with money and objects, dependent on the difficulty, playing through the campaign is very rewarding for newer players looking to quickly bolster their inventories without the expenditure that attacking friends may cost. Unless you lose, and then have to repurchase all of the creatures that you lost whilst also restarting the mission. Yes there’s a learning curve, but it soon becomes a choice of risking for reward, or slowly working your way up the hard way; the old way. It’s also a great opportunity to earn extra XP, further advancing players through the ranks and unlocking more items they can accessorise their towns with. And whilst the rewards are a pittance for veteran gamers, they have other interests to amuse themselves with.
Leaderboards! Every mission is timed, but don’t worry, you don’t get given a number of seconds to finish. Instead, you’re racing against the clock in order to finish with the highest score. Each mission will give you a rating out of three stars, along with a general ‘high score’ that will be ranked on leaderboards that allow you to compete against friends. Whilst previously the only way to share the Monstermind experience was to turn towns to rubble, you can now compete on these missions to see who is the most strategic.
Along with the new missions and leaderboards, there are tons of new buildings and objects that add a wealth of new design changes you can implement in your towns. With Bossa Studios recently updating the game to incentivise using different buildings (and having your income penalised for over-using the same types), it’s a very welcome addition.
There’s plenty of content on offer, and we’d need to turn this review into a dissertation before we could adequately cover everything in the detail it deserves. From the wonderfully ‘Dick Dastardly-esque’ new characters, to the wealth of new missions, the only thing you can complain about is that the new content is procrastination-inducing.
Summary: The Campaign mode only serves to improve the already addictive and enjoyable gameplay that Monstermind serves up. As the quality of Facebook games grows, you can only hope other games take note of the work Bossa Studios are doing.