Godzilla: Unleashed PS2 Review
There have been a few games over the years where you get to play the big movie monster laying waste to the city – most famously the 1980s arcade game Rampage. Now in the latest game based on the Godzilla franchise, there is the chance to play many of the Toho studio’s roster of monsters in a fight to save the world.
Gameplay is split into two main modes, the multiplayer Brawl and the single player Story. The plot, told through short texts and hand-drawn storyboards, concerns the Earth being bombarded by meteors that cause giant crystals to grow out of control. The Global Defense Force is concerned these crystals will prove hazardous to the Earth itself and particularly attractive to the giant monsters who have escaped from their holding pens on Monster Island…
The player chooses from an initial set of monsters and plays that character throughout the story. Each level is introduced by text explaining the goal, usually to defeat another monster or stop them from picking up the crystals. The plot moves forward in a series of “days”, with each day being another fight. The locations are major cities around the world – Osaka, San Francisco and London – as well as Monster Island in the Pacific itself.
Once in the area, defined by energy barriers, the player has control of the monster. Now they can use three main moves – the punch/high move with Cross, the kick/low move with Square, and the special move with Circle. These vary according to the monster; for example Godzilla 2000’s Circle move is a tail whip. Combos of the same move also work, and Triangle is used to block. The shoulder buttons unleash more moves, including the ability to throw objects, to use the beam/breath weapon of the monster and to jump.
As the player progresses through the Story mode, Store Points are earned for striking the killer blow against an enemy monster, destroying military vehicles and scenery, and completing the tasks. One interesting aspect is that if you fail to win a level, the story moves on to the next day anyway – but the game keeps track of the wins and failures for each faction of monsters, making things more difficult for a player who does not win. However, you do have to win the last day’s battle to see the ending – which varies according to the faction you have chosen.
Brawl mode pits up to four monsters against each other, with at least one being player-controlled. There is the option to choose a random monster, and the victory conditions can be altered. These include allowing 0, 1 or 2 re-spawns and the length in time of the battle. Store Points allow you to unlock extra monsters and new locations to fight in, but in reality they make little difference to the actual battle.
While the plot does move the game along well, it is full of clichés and is disappointingly short. A bit more variety in the tasks would also have helped. Graphically it is competent, with the monsters moving smoothly and the cities well realised. Effects like billowing smoke are there, but it is a real shame that the large buildings “fade” out rather than crumbling and falling to pieces. Sound does the job without being spectacular, the highlight being the monster roars. The speech announcing each monster at the start of a level can be difficult to decipher. The music on the whole is generic metal and rather bland. To unlock all the monsters and extra locations will require several playthroughs to earn the necessary Store points, but there is little incentive to do so.
It should be good to be controlling a giant monster, but there are times when the control feels clumsy, particularly in the middle of a four-way brawl. The repetitive nature of the fights does not help. The feeling you are left with is that the game is badly dated and has not evolved beyond previous Godzilla titles.