I'm not sure what I was expecting from Godzilla. I imagined that there would be godlike monster battling each other for supremacy, while the ant sized humans scurried around like ants caught underfoot. It used to be a childhood fantasy of mine to tromp across a city like Godzilla, crushing tanks underfoot, swatting down helicopters, and burning everything with atomic fire. As I controlled the creature stepping forth from the ocean, I realized that you practically have to be a kid to enjoy this game.
God of Destruction
While I believe that the giant monster (aka kaiju) area has been underserved in video games, Godzilla's "King of the Monsters" status is largely based on a long-standing reputation, and has less to do with its presence. The monster has been around for over 60 years, and practically set the standard for giant city destroying creatures. Although recent American movies haven't done the radioactive monster many favors, this game is sort of a celebration of Godzilla's long-standing history. It just isn't much of a game.
Godzilla is slow, lumbering, and moves as clumsily as... well, a guy dressed in a rubber costume. The left thumbstick moves Godzilla around while the right one merely controls the camera and has no bearing on movement. Players have to use the bumper buttons to rotate Godzilla left or right, which is really unnecessary, given how Godzilla is so slow to turn.
The game's plot involves humanity harvesting a clean and potent form of energy discovered from Godzilla, appropriately (and boringly) named G-Energy, which is used to power everything in Japan. Unbeknownst to them, G-Energy also happens to be Godzilla's favorite food source. Recently awakened from a long sleep, the monster is hungry, and looking to tear down every building and reactor to feed.
Let Them Fight
Godzilla grows taller with every bit of energy it consumes, which isn't as dramatic as one would expect. It's hard to appreciate the height change in comparison to the buildings it's already knocking down, nor are there many other useful reference points to see how Godzilla is growing. Buildings still topple over in the same way, whether you're 50 or 300 meters tall. The only area where size matters is when you're fighting one of Godzilla's iconic kaiju enemies, like Mothra or Mechagodzilla. Height ties into strength and endurance, and you'll be able to grab hold of your enemies if you're taller than them.
Attacks involve the same handful of clumsy looking flails repeated ad nauseum. Aside from pressing light attack three times in succession, there's no real combo system. Every once in a while, Godzilla's atomic breath will charge up so that players can let out a quick blast. Unfortunately, Godzilla doesn't do basic actions like dodge or block. Kaiju fights generally come down to whoever can get in the most hits. You can't pick up chunks of buildings or towers to use as weapons. Nor can you disengage from battle to gather more G-Energy, since they'll relentlessly pursue your slow-moving monster. So, it's all arm/tail flailing, head ramming, and atomic breath action until one falls.
The city destruction isn't much better. Toppling over skyscrapers and Ferris Wheels quickly lose their charm, since they fall apart like cardboard, and the human defenses (which include lines of stationary tanks) are a complete joke. Then the task of flattening everything becomes a chore, as you have to lumber across the dark and smoky landscape looking for that one little structure you didn't adequately crush. Failing to utterly destroy a city means you might not be strong enough to take on the threats later on. All the while, you're expected to move Godzilla into key positions, where humans can record its movements and use the data to build a super weapon to combat it. I'm not sure why players would want to help construct a super weapon to end themselves, but there it is.
Once the campaign is over, players can use the resources they've collected to evolve Godzilla, which makes its moves better, but doesn't necessarily add new ones. Then the monster can rampage across Japan again, with modestly improved abilities that might enable them to visit more difficult areas of the nation. Or they can wreck the city using a different kaiju, or to play as a ally seeking to defend humanity against Godzilla. Playing as different kaiju helps adds some much needed variety to the game, but they too start to wear thin after a while.
The game has some nice fan-features, including Prime Ministers with varying personalities and perspectives on Godzilla's threat potential, and Diorama Mode, which is a virtual dollhouse for custom scenes. There's also a great kaiju encyclopedia, detailing the long list of monsters Godzilla has confronted, along with various versions of the monster itself. However, none of that helps the game overcome its overly simplistic and boring gameplay. Godzilla may be the King of Monsters, but this game demonstrates that he got the throne by being the first to sit on it.
- Can fight using other kaiju
- Diorama Mode lets you build your own set
- A celebration of Godzilla's long history
- Very boring gameplay
- Godzilla is slow and clumsy
- Destroying a city can become a chore
- A handful of moves, and none involve dodging
Steven Wong posted a new article, Godzilla Review: A Natural Disaster