Another improvement in the game is with attaching or removing parts. You now have the option to manually or automatically remove parts. Manual removal brings up a close-up view of the part, where you must either weld along a line or fasten a few bolts to attach the piece (or cut a line or loosen a few bolts to remove it). Eventually, doing these tasks over and over gets repetitive. Fortunately, you can now automatically remove parts instead, although you'll sacrifice time to do so. A manual removal may take five minutes of in-game time, while automatic removal will take 20 minutes. The manual removal times appear to be more realistic, as opposed to automatic removal times, which are exaggerated. The solution between the two options is that you may want to juggle between the two to manage your time. But as mentioned, you'll never be pressed for time so the extra time of automatic removal won't hurt you. Even so, the automatic removal is a nice addition because it makes the game less monotonous.
Driving your monsters is the best part of the game.
Once you've built your monster, you'll get to test it in a driving simulation. In the Xbox version, all seven of your driving portions take place in the same arena. The trick is that some parts of the arena are closed off by obstacles at the start. Later challenges will allow you to build machines that can destroy these obstacles, opening up the arena as you progress. It's a nice idea and it works pretty well within the game. The machines are also fun to use. You'll be able to fling bowling balls with the slingshot machine and break glass panes with the glider. The actual driving is functional, but not great. It can take a while to get used to the controls, especially because the camera is difficult to handle in some challenges. You can also spend a lot of time finding where you need to go next because you don't have a map.
Monster Garage is Xbox Live-enabled, but you won't be directly challenging your buddies online. Instead, there is an online scoreboard that tracks your time spent in the garage and on the challenge field. There are two categories: all-time and monthly scoreboards. It almost seems pointless to have build-time scoreboards because there is an obvious critical path in building the monster. You may have finished fabricating all your parts, yet you will be waiting for one part to arrive before you can complete the monster. Therefore, scoreboards will fill up with people who complete the build in the set amount of time. The challenge scoreboards are a different story, because it takes some skill to drive and do the tasks. The Xbox Live scoreboards may cause some people to challenge the best times of others, but ultimately it won't have enough long-lasting appeal to cause players to come back to the game.
We have a perfectly good monster, but no one wants to race us.
Monster Garage on the Xbox looks better than the PC version, but that's not saying much. The menus and inventory screens are set up nicely, but the game still looks bland graphically, both inside and outside the shop. There is very little detail, and the driving area has low-resolution textures. Your vehicles take no damage when driving around the course, making you wonder why you had to install driver protections. The audio is equally disappointing. Team members get excited when you give them a task ("This is going to be so cool!"), and then sound like it was the worst thing in the world when they finish it ("That took forever. Next time give me something easy to do."). The music tracks are limited as well. The shop sounds, like torches and power tools, are appropriate, at least.
There really isn't much to keep you playing Monster Garage for long, since the game will take you three to four hours to complete. The challenges are all easy to build and drive. That's unfortunate because some of the challenges in the PC version were difficult despite its shortcomings. Even though it's bad that the game doesn't offer any alternative designs, you can't fault the linear approach it takes to building the monster. Obviously you need to install parts in a given order in construction, but the game can still be at fault for being so inflexible with the parts themselves. Why does the Xbox version practically tell you the order of the parts to be installed? Why can't I build a roll cage with fewer crossbeams in order to save money? If the in-game engine included damage modeling, you could have considered the consequences of this trade-off. Was saving a few bucks really worth the risk of damaging the vehicle in the trial? You should ask yourself that same question in regards to the game. Is saving a few bucks worth it to avoid a simple game with no replayability? We think so.