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Godzilla Unleashed

Score: 55%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Atari
Developer: Pipeworks Software, Inc.
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1 - 4
Genre: Fighting

Graphics & Sound:

Maybe I'm looking for something that isn't there or just getting old, but I didn't "get" Godzilla Unleashed. Okay, I understand the whole "big monsters battling in cities" concept - it worked amazingly well for War of the Monsters (which, by the way, is long overdue for a sequel) and Rampage. However, between the poorly executed motion-based controls and vague mission goals, the simple concept of stomping on cities and destroying everything is completely lost.

At least Godzilla Unleashed looks good. All of the monsters look great and move incredibly well. It doesn't have quite that "rubber monster" feel that the movies do, but I'm probably one of the few people who would actually enjoy that - so I can see why they opted for the current style. The visuals look their best when you're using breath attacks and the surrounding military (and aliens!!) are letting loose with their various weapons. The camera pulls back far enough to give you a good view of everything, though the angle isn't always the most playable.

The only audio highlight is that several familiar monster noises are in the game, which is a pretty big deal for fans. Music is bland and generic while the voice acting is instantly forgettable. Even the all-purpose sound effects come up short.


Gameplay:

As Dr. Phil would say, Godzilla Unleashed has communication issues. There are two main modes: Story and Brawl. As the name suggests, Story is where most of the game's "meat" is. The main story revolves around crystals popping up and driving the world's monsters crazy (as if they needed much encouragement in the first place). Played all the way through, the Story mode isn't all that long and shouldn't take more than a few hours. Though the story is kept linear, each level has a more open structure, bringing the game's communication problem to full effect.

It all begins with the story, which never fully explains what the crystals are. Once you enter a mission, you are given several objectives that aren't all that clear. You can choose to fight the other monster or attack the crystals and try to free them. Everything is supposed to tie into some sort of "faction"-based system (and here I didn't think monsters had factions), but the system isn't explained well enough to matter. Eventually you'll find yourself ignoring mission goals altogether and just destroying things until the level ends.

This haphazard structure becomes slightly more frustrating when you get the chance to unlock new monsters. It is never clear how you should go about freeing them. I assume this was to encourage replay, but when the game isn't much fun in the first place, you'll probably just get mad that you can't unlock a certain favorite monster.

Brawl is a little more fun, mostly because it ditches the lame story and focuses on what you really want out of a giant monster game - beating up other monsters and destroying cities as Japanese businessmen run screaming for their lives. Brawl supports up to four players and features two play modes: Destruction and Melee. Destruction is all about doing the aforementioned city remodeling while Melee plays a little more like a fighting game and awards points for beating up the other monster. You can also create your own game parameters, which is a cool option.


Difficulty:

Godzilla Unleashed at least tries to be a challenge. The A.I. is incredibly aggressive and can seemingly counter just about every attack you throw at it... well, except for fire breath. Given the myriad of combat options at your disposal, the best strategy is to stand around and charge up your fire breath. It takes about a minute to fully charge your breath, which is tedious, though you can just stand around and block your opponent's attack and unleash the fiery attack when you're ready.

Another fun strategy is to just get the other monsters to attack each other. There is usually more than one monster in each level and they'll attack each other if you can bring them together. Sometimes its best to let them wear each other down, then swoop in for the cheap kill.


Game Mechanics:

Though other genres are slowly beginning to find a way to work with the Wii's controls, fighting games still seem to have a long way to go. If you're a regular Adult Swim viewer, you're no doubt familiar with the Godzilla Unleashed commercial showcasing the game's motion-based controls. The good news is that the game won't have you jumping around the room like a spider monkey on speed. The bad news is that you may end up doing something pretty close to get the controls to work.

Basic attacks are assigned to the (A) and (B) buttons and generally work pretty well. However, the rest of the controls require flicking the Wii-mote and Nunchuk with varying degrees of success. When they work, they're fine; however this doesn't happen very often. Sometimes you'll do something else entirely while at other times they just won't register. Even when they do work, there's a slight bit of delay between doing the move and it happening.

Were it not for the forced controls and unclear mission goals, Godzilla Unleashed could have at least been a half-way decent monster brawler. Everything is there; it just doesn't come together in a fun way. In some regards, it almost feels like the designers were trying too hard rather than focusing on what makes monster movies fun in the first place. Godzilla Unleashed is for the hardcore of hardcore Godzilla fans only, but you may want to try the PS2 version over the Wii version if you have the option only because it sounds a little more playable.


-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

Microsoft Xbox 360 Avatar: The Last Airbender - The Burning Earth Microsoft Xbox 360 Cars: Mater-National Championship

 
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