Godzilla Unleashed ReviewRush Montgomery III
I entered into this game with visions of the old SNK game King of Monsters as a ruler by which any successful monster-on-monster game should be measured. Sure graphics have come a long way since the days of the Neo Geo, but for a fine example of Godzilla and other monsters duking it out in a city landscape, King of Monsters was fun and well balanced. I have to say that Godzilla Unleashed for the PS2 - for the most part - far exceeded my wildest fantasies of what a great monster battle game should be.
Of course when you've got giant mutant creatures duking it out in your cities, you can almost assume an apocalyptic storyline. In Godzilla Unleashed, the story features giant alien crystals which have sprouted up from the planet's crust, wreaking major havoc (even before the monsters arrived) by disrupting the cities and the environment around them. There are nine unique real-world locales - including New York, Sydney, London and Osaka - in which the monsters lay waste. Each city has been affected by the alien crystals, which has caused volcanoes, blizzards or worse. In the single-player campaign players are given the choice of many popular TOHO creatures, such as Godzilla (of course), Rodan, MechaGozilla and Mothra. Each of the monsters fall into four factions: Earth Defender, Alien, Global Defense Force and Mutant. Each faction has different agendas, but ultimately it's up to the player to determine their role in the destruction of the Earth - defender or destructor. In all, there are 21 monsters to choose from as you progress into the game.
The monsters in Godzilla Unleashed all have similar control schemes. The game has a very arcade "button masher" feel to it, with quick button presses winning out over any type of complex controller motions, a la Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat. The monsters all have unique special moves, but all-in-all the controls are very much the same for all characters. Although this is a button-masher stomp fest, it would have been nice to see a little uniqueness to the control and operation of each character. Rather than giving each monster different discernible control schemes, all characters basically operate exactly the same. You have your variety of button presses that launch your basic attacks, and then there are special moves that unleash fireballs, atomic breath and more.
The single-player campaign is pretty straight forward - players choose a monster and the fight begins, facing them off with each additional monster one-by-one. The fights take place in some nice re-creations of real-world cities, and the destruction of large buildings is pleasing enough for an arcade-style smash and bash game. It was also a lot of fun scooping up the smaller buildings and flinging them at the other monsters. The graphics for Godzilla Unleashed are decent for a PS2 title, but maybe not as detailed as I felt like they should be. I was also disappointed that there wasn't more interactivity with the environments beyond crumbling big buildings to the ground.
The multiplayer battles were also a lot of fun. Up to four players can duke it out in the city of their choice with a wide range of customizable options, such as the amount of military presence there to harass you as you fight. Things get pretty chaotic with several enormous creatures causing complete destruction to some poor city. The good thing about the multiplayer mode is the level of options available in customizing your battles. Having this kind of control over the match gives the 4-player battle mode a lot of replay value, and I dare say the game is worth the price of admission almost solely on the fun that can be had during these heated 4-way battles. Imagine the hours of smack talk as you smash a small building over another player's head.
Another great thing about this game is the authentic creature sounds. When Godzilla lets out a scream, it's that oh-so-familiar Godzilla roar that we've all come to know and love. Each monster's audio is dead-on to the original sounds, giving the game an almost nostalgic feel. If you love Godzilla movies (not counting the dreadful Hollywood remake) then you'll love how this game gets the monster audio right.
If you're going to have a few buddies over and you want a game you can throw in the PS2 and smack talk over, Godzilla Unleashed is the game for you (or at least one of them). The single-player campaign is interesting and segmented by impressive graphic novel style cut-scenes, however, it does seem to get a little repetitive in its confront-kill-move on pattern. I would like to have seen more done with character controls and special moves, giving each monster a little more diversity and also a little more interactivity with the environment. However, with the strength of the multiplayer battle, I almost excuse the single-player campaign as a training mode to help you raise your skills for when your friends come back over for another beatdown.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.