Platform: PlayStation 2
Developer - Pipeworks Software
Publisher - Atari
Memory Card - 88KB
Multitap (for PS2) - 4 Players
Godzilla Unleashed arrives for the Wii and PlayStation 2. As with the previous two home console entries in the series, the Wii and PS2 versions of the game were developed by Pipeworks Software and published by Atari. I was tasked to take a look at the PS2 version of the game. Despite the fact that Godzilla Unleashed was designed with the Wii remote in mind, I was curious to see how the game would hold up on the PS2. Unfortunately, after a few minutes of playing you quickly realize this one suffers on so many levels and it ultimately fails to live up to its predecessors.
In terms of the visuals, the word 'yikes' comes to mind. Godzilla Unleashed barely pushes the limits of the PS2. Perhaps I have been spoiled with all those high definition games I have all played in the last couple of years; but honestly Godzilla Unleashed is painful on the eyes at times.
I will start with the graphic-novel cut-scenes. In addition to the hard to understand dialogue there is no animation in said cut-scenes. As the story unfolds you just watch pictures flash on the screen while you read what seems to be never ending paragraphs of dialog. In this day in age, even on the PS2, we have come to expect so much more from a cut-scene. Give me some action sequences and let me see some cool videos of Godzilla trashing a city. Sadly, you get none of that in the cut-scenes. On a positive note you can skip these scenes.
In terms of the characters found in the game, the monsters themselves look somewhat unfinished and rushed. Granted, there are lots of monsters, with over 20 to choose from, but unfortunately none look incredibly terrifying or give you that feeling you are about to take on something that can potentially destroy the earth. Godzilla himself is well represented but you just don't get the kind of detail and animation we have come to expect in 2008, even on the PS2’s well aged hardware.
The environments you play in are varied, but they too suffer in the visual department. Cities look too dark on some stages and they look nothing like their real life counterparts. The city buildings look like they have been essentially thrown into the levels with no rhyme or reason. The cities seem sloppy and lack any kind of realism. Another issue is the buildings themselves. When the buildings crumble, they just seem to melt into the ground without any debris or large smoke plumes. It's actually pretty sad.
The camera has many issues as well as it seems to have no idea of where it wants to go. I sure wish I could have controlled the camera myself. It mysteriously starts behind the monster, just prior to a fight, and once the fight begins the camera takes on a life of its own; swinging aimlessly around. I wish more time could have spent fine tuning the camera angles. Finally, I noticed lots of jaggies, clipping and slow down during the fighting sequences. It really did not take much for the game to start slowing down when the action amped up and the screen got a little busy.
As with the visuals, the sound suffers in Godzilla Unleashed. Other than Godzilla's famous screech, the sounds are nothing to write home about as the battle sounds are forgettable and the in-game heavy mental music montage gets on your nerves. The repetitive nature of the in-game tunes only lends to the dullness of the game. The other monsters in the game feature their own battle sounds but they too are nothing particularly original or innovative. As I suggested above, the voice acting, which is predominant in the cut scenes, is marginal at best as it is hard to understand and does not follow the subtitles which appear on screen as they both seem to be slightly out of sync. Finally, other battle sounds such as crashing buildings and what not all sound pretty standard.
Before I get into the games nuisances, let me give you a bit of background with regards to the story regardless of how irrelevant it may be. Godzilla Unleashed begins with a meteor shower raining down on the world causing climate shifts and earthquakes. Simultaneously, giant crystals have begun appearing all over the world. Without giving too much of the storyline away, various monsters subsequently want the crystals as they have plans for them. In the game there are four kinds of crystals:
1. Health crystals (blue): replenish health when shattered
2. Energy crystals (yellow): replenish energy when shattered
3. Large crystals (purple/green): rapidly increase Critical Meter/induce "excited state"
4. "Ambient" crystals: which affect your faction affinities when destroyed.
These crystals have begun disrupting various major cities around the globe including such locales as Seattle, London, Tokyo, New York and Sydney. The cities are basically your fighting arenas and there are a total of nine cities. In the campaign you are given the choice of which character/monster you want to use. You will most likely pick Godzilla however you do have the option of picking others such as Rodan, MechaGodzilla and Mothra. In total there are 23 monsters in all, but you have to unlock the majority of them by playing through the game and earning credits. If you are not interested in unlocking all the various creatures you could complete the single player campaign in a few short hours but if you want to unlock all the monsters the game will take you a considerable amount of time to finish.
As far as the controls are concerned, Godzilla Unleashed is a bit of a mixed bag. On one hand they are very simple and it won't take you long to pick them up. On the other hand, the creatures move at a slow pace and you don’t always feel in complete control of the on-screen action. I understand Godzilla is supposed to be slow but this is ridiculous. I also love (editors note: please note sarcasm) when my character gets knocked down and mysteriously starts rolling around. It was instances like these where I never really felt like I was in total control of my character and this is one of my biggest concerns. I had this never-ending feeling that I was missing something. I kept pounding two buttons at a time and trying different combinations to see if that would help but to no avail. Godzilla Unleashed quickly turns into a button masher fest.
Something that I hoped for, but was let down with, was the lack of an online multiplayer component to the game. Unlike its predecessor, the online play was removed. This was arguably the best feature of Godzilla: Save the Earth but for some strange reason it's not included in Godzilla Unleashed.
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