If you’ve followed this blog to any degree over the last year, Godzilla Unleashed is a something that I had committed a fairly subsequent amount of entries to, mostly concerning the various monsters that were slated to appear in the game. I finally bought a copy and after playing for a few hours, felt kind of silly for all the attention I had previously heaped upon it because, frankly-speaking, Unleashed is a disappointing mess. It was then that I became enlightened to the ‘merits’ of the aforementioned techniques used by gaming magazines, and was sorely tempted to post a skeletal entry containing links to miscellaneous game review sites with a smidgen of text along the lines of, “Oh well- as it turns out, the game sucks. See links”. However, I ultimately decided that it would be better to properly see this whole thing through to the end with a relatively full review. So here goes:
Overall, Unleashed can be best described as a clunky version of Atari/Pipeworks’ previous Godzilla-themed videogame effort, Save the Earth. The story (as told via a bunch of voiced-over static illustrations, reused over and over to an annoying degree) is as follows: Earth is bombarded by crystalline meteorites which pepper the planet and send weather patterns- as well as the resident daikaiju- into a tizzy. After picking out a monster to control, the player visits various cities around the globe in order to engage whichever opponents are occupying the location. During each level, the player can:
A) Beat up the enemy monster.
B) Assist or fight a second monster (of an allied, enemy or neutral relationship) that is also trying to beat up the enemy monster.
C) Get defeated by the enemy monster.
D) Destroy all of the huge crystals that are littered about the environment. Some will renew the health or energy of the player’s monster.
E) Run around and wait for the level’s timer to run out.
F) Smash buildings.
G) Go make a sandwich.
Any one of these choices will do, simply because there is no bad decision to be made here: the game will continue onward, regardless of what happens. Screwing up the level doesn’t mean starting over- you just return to the map screen, choose another area and then battle a new foe. This is the game's biggest crime in a nutshell: the whole thing feels like an exercise in pointlessness. I’d imagine that there probably is some sort of internalized significance to the various outcomes- good or bad- but since it doesn’t really seem to overtly affect the gameplay, who cares? Perhaps it subtly alters details of the game’s plot; an uninteresting yarn concerning an alien invasion scheme and an insane military officer, made all the more intolerable from the fact that the game necessitates playing through the story mode numerous times in order to accumulate enough points necessary to unlock all of the monsters (as well as some other extras).
Speaking of which; if you’re looking forward to playing the new monsters like Biollante, Titanosaurus and King Caesar, forget about it- they’re all Wii exclusives. The only new beasts in the PS2 port are Battra (Mothra with a different skin) and Obsidius (one of the non-Toho creatures created specifically for the game).
I could go on in detail about the ugly environment designs, the simplified and unresponsive controls, the dumb-looking “Critical Mass” states (an empowered form that makes the affected monster look like a black and orange candy cane), or the annoying camera, but it’s already painfully evident that I’m advising against a purchase of Godzilla Unleashed. I can’t speak for the Wii version, but according to reviews found around the web, the general opinion isn’t really much better. For those who still own a PS2 or an Xbox, stick with Save the Earth instead; it’s a much more satisfying game by comparison.
Two out of five.