Sunday, January 20, 2008

Game Review: Godzilla Unleashed (PS2)

An interesting particularity that I've noticed in many video game-related magazines comes about when an upcoming and anticipated game is the recipient of a large, extensive preview article, only to be subsequently mentioned a few issues later in the form of a brief review (usually found towards the back of the publication) when said game turns out to be a big, fat disappointment. It’s almost as if the editors are embarrassed that they made such a big deal out of something that ended up being considerably less than the sum of the hype surrounding it. I will admit that whenever I would come across this, I would revel in a slight amount of smug amusement... that is, until the cold hand of irony decided to slap me upside the head in the form of Godzilla Unleashed.

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.


Botch the Crab said...

:( That's too bad. Thanks for your honesty.

In truth, I won't be interested in a Godzilla video game until all the kaiju are lumbering behemoths, methodically wading through destruction, with a camera angle that makes them huge instead of bird's eye. But all the games are much closer to a Mortal Kombat thing than giant monsters. Oh well.

M. Sáflo said...

How disappointing. At least there will always be War of the Monsters to return to.

Now we need your Cloverfield review.

Mysterious Pants said...

I think that any giant monster-themed video game (fighting or otherwise) is a pretty tough balancing act between portraying the characters as enormous and decent playability; a low angle perspective would definitely sell the whole size aspect, although I can't help but wonder if doing so would create "blind spots" and other related camera issues. It would be interesting to see it done at least once, tho'...

BTW- my Cloverfield review will hopefully be finished and posted later this week.

Tiki-Rob said...

The Wii version is MUCH MUCH better.

Mitch said...

I have the Wii version. It has its problems, and power/balance seemed off to me at first. Later (as I kept playing each monster in the storyline) I came to realize that you really had to find each monster's strength, or best mode of battle to succeed.

As far as the storyline goes, yeah, kind of boring after playing through it once. What is more fun is getting 4 people to play the rumble games. :) Picture 4 adults (or kids) drinking beer and doing battle with monsters... wii remotes flailing wildly about. :)

Unknown said...

I think your review is quite honest and reliable.. Thanks for bringing this one up.. I think there's a lot of other Free Games that is worth to download besides this one...