I'm a big fan of kaiju films, I'll admit. I don't get to watch a ton of them, but when I do, I have a blast. Like this past weekend, where I watched Mothra vs. Godzilla. Apparently the best way to defeat Godzilla is to just have him trip over small buildings and fall into Japan's various castles.
So, onto the latest iteration of the Godzilla franchise from Atari. Taking from Godzilla: Final Wars, the game has you play as the giant lizard from Japan, destroying everything in his path, and inadvertently saving the world. How does the game hold up? Does the Gotengo make an appearance? Does Mothra prove to be as awesome as he's always been?
Godzilla: Unleashed (PS2 [reviewed], Wii, DS)
Developed by Pipeworks
Published by Atari
Released on November 20th, 2007
Have you ever been in a situation where you play a game, beat it, and have no idea what you've actually accomplished? That was the situation that I was in, playing through Godzilla: Unleashed. Crystals have started popping up all over the world, causing the monsters of the world to go berserk and attack them, and incidentially destroying the major cities of the world. At the same time, a meteor's crashed into the Earth, giving the Vortaak (an alien race) the perfect opportunity to come and attack.
I went through the story mode as Godzilla, because frankly, Mothra can't do shit against Anguirus. As I went through the story mode, I focused on beating the other monsters. I would win a level or two, and then be presented with Godzilla: Unleashed's cutscenes, which were nothing more than painted frames with a slow pan or zoom on an image. Then, as I went on, I would start destroying those crystals to get the powerups. At one point, I destroyed them all and I won the level.
At this point, I was confused. How is it that I win? Is it by destroying the crystals, which as one of the cutscenes told me, are causing the monsters to go crazy, or is it by killing off the enemy monsters? Well, time to soldier on through the game. In my next fight against Gigan, I died. And completed the level. At that point, I had to stop the game. I just died, and I completed the level. This wasn't some trick the game was throwing at me, like Godzilla is supposed to lose. I tried dying in other fights and got the same effect.
I soldiered on, continuing to play through the game, unsure of what to do. What confused me even further was that I completed a level. The timer was still at seven minutes and forty-five seconds remaining. All of my enemies were still alive. I hadn't destroyed all the crystals. How, then, did I win? I don't know. The game doesn't really give me any explanation as to what I need to do. The story mode is odd, too, since everything takes place from the perspective of humans. They keep sending the military to kill me, only to thank me for saving the Earth at the end.
The enemies in the game range from Rodan to Mechagodzilla, with random enemies like Battra and Megalon thrown in there. The military acts as a nuisance for you throughout every battle, firing missiles from helicopters and tank rounds at you. The military also provides the game's only "boss," which was a joke battle in and of itself -- the Gotengo. For those of you who don't know what the Gotengo is, check it out. It was awesome in Godzilla: Final Wars, but in this game, the ship just flies around in circles and shoots missles at you, ocassionally freezing you with one. You break out, and proceed to blast it again. That's the entirety of the fight. No strategy is involved other than pressing R1 and turning Godzilla around every so often.
To get away from my confusion with the story mode, the game does not handle well. Originally meant for the Wii, and so when translated over to the PS2, they come off as sluggish and uninventive. There's fun to be had swinging around your controller as though you are Godzilla, but when you take out the swinging, and replace it with button presses that respond ever so slowly, it begins to grate on you. I found myself following a single tactic of throwing buildings at other monsters, and then blasting them with my atomic breath, and only going into close combat when I had nothing better to do.
At times, the game would chug up considerably. Perhaps it was due to the system trying to render the entirety of the city at once, because the camera, which you can't control, will randomly change the angle or focus of action for god knows what reason. Combined with the poor response time from controls, I often found myself wishing to play another game in my stack. The graphics are done well enough to keep the game's head above the water in terms of the end-of-the-life PS2 games that are on shelves.
The versus battles aren't extremely fun, either. Against a single opponent, each player obviously goes to fight the other, and it results in playing a sluggish 3D fighter. If you've got a multitap handy, then playing a four player fight is more entertaining, because you can team up against each other and actually have some fun. Is it worth buying just for this, though? I'm not too confident about that, considering you have to play through story mode to unlock points to buy characters and stages to fight with in the game.
Ultimately, I don't think I'll forget Godzilla: Unleashed anytime soon. It presented me with a story mode that was random and poorly voiced, where I would win every round, no matter what I did. The game's controls weren't very strong, and so I learned what a poor port of a Wii game is like. It's a game that's destined for the bargain bin, for sure. I would say try renting the Wii version instead, or just go and grab Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters for the GameCube, to ensure some more fun than this version.
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