Godzilla Unleashed - PS2 - Review
It's been several years since Godzilla: Save the Earth was released, and most of the hardcore faithful I know are still enjoying the title from time to time. However, just the thought of a new Godzilla game is enough to stir the ToHo fanatics into a frenzy, and when Godzilla: Unleashed was announced, gamers thought the time had finally come when they could lay their copies of Save the Earth to rest. Well, I'm sorry to say that nothing could be farther from the truth. Unleashed is no where near the sequel, or follow-up, that it could be. In fact, it feels more like a patch, or even a piece of downloadable content (if PS2 had that ability), than it does a stand alone game. Fans be warned; anyone considering this title should absolutely know that Unleashed is nearly identical in every way to Save the Earth, with the only difference being a few minor additions.
These additions can be summed up fairly quickly, too; Obsidius and Batra are now playable, Super-X 3 has been removed, the camera has been improved in Melee mode, power-ups now appear randomly, the HUD has been simplified a bit, and there's a new story mode to help keep you busy. While these are definitely needed improvements, they shouldn't have taken three years to complete, and most certainly shouldn't come at a forty dollar price tag. Having said this, if you go into Unleashed knowing exactly what you're getting into, then the experience will be much less irritating.
The story is pretty basic, but does give you access as to why these giant monsters are fighting in the first place. Mysterious crystals have begun appearing all across the globe and each of the various factions of monsters are vying for their position among the crystal holders. Each faction has their own agenda and plans for the crystals, but unfortunately you are limited in your choices when the game begins. Although the game's roster is impressive; 23 monsters in all, the amount of work you must go through to unlock some of the all-time greats is pretty discouraging. You will slowly earn credits while playing through the game, which then can be used to unlock various monsters and their respective factions. Finally, once the faction is unlocked you must play through once again if you wish to access that particular faction's most powerful creatures. The objectives and story do change slightly each time around, but most of the unlockable monsters require a hefty amount of credits to be purchased. This, along with the horrible voice-acting and sub-par cut-scenes, will likely keep most people from playing multiple times, and from unlocking many of their favorite creatures.
The combat doesn't help much either, unfortunately. Any excitement you had from the idea of controlling these massive beasts in beautiful locations around the world quickly dies after only a few minutes of gameplay. Godzilla and pals move way too slow and sluggish, and for the most part commands are unresponsive at best. What should be a strategic romp through Osaka quickly turns into a game of Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots when you figure out button mashing is just as effective as actually mastering the controls. This is a shame, too; with such a wide variety of monsters available, the developers had a real chance to make each individual stand out, complete with specific moves and control schemes. Instead, each button does the exact same thing for all monsters, and while they may have different on-screen moves, the whole thing feels too generic and unintuitive. Also, Rage moves have now been replaced with Power Surges, the only problem is the game does little to describe what they do, and why you achieved them in the first place. Additionally, throws seem to have been decreased drastically. Enemies seem to drop immediately to the ground after thrown, instead of hurdling across the screen. This isn't a big deal, but it should be questioned as to why the development team decided to remove certain gameplay elements that seemed to work fine in the first place.
Had these battles taken place in accurate representations of their real-world counterparts, some of the gameplay issues might have been overshadowed. Although locations like Osaka, Sydney, and San Francisco look somewhat familiar, they in no way match the size and scale you would expect. I know this would be difficulty to achieve on the PS2, but what little space is represented feels generic and poorly done. Buildings resemble cardboard boxes with a slight coating of polygons, and after destruction debris is mysteriously absent. It honestly feels as if the city below is made of popsicle sticks just waiting to crumble upon cue, almost completely absent of life or anything close to it. You will occasionally see a few cars littered throughout the cities, but nothing too interactive. Using parts of the environment to punish your enemies would have helped immensely, but not being able to grab buildings or even telephone poles and use them as weapons seems like such a waste. Having hundreds of tiny humans panicking and running for their lives would have been icing on the cake, but you will find none of that here. This only helps cheapen the overall experience, when it should have been a major selling point.
It is almost impossible to recommend Godzilla: Unleashed, especially when Save the Earth can be purchased for half the price in your local bargain bin. Those who cannot live without the minor upgrades (and a few downgrades) will likely rush out to play as their favorite monsters, but everyone else will likely want to give this near-replica a pass.
Nearly identical to a game that was released 3 years ago, with almost minimal upgrades. Some aspects have even been taken out or downgraded.
Each of the 23 monsters look pretty accurate and well polished, but the locations lack of any type of polish really drags the visual experience down.
Horrible voice-acting, forgettable sound effects and cheesy background metal make it hard to enjoy the audio. At least most of the monsters have the correct roars and screams, which is a plus.
What seems like a genius idea (Godzilla and pals fight it out in real-world locations) seems like a no-brainer, almost nothing is executed the way it should be.
It does offer 4-player battles for you and your friends, but severe slowdown and framerate issues eliminate most of the fun. Sadly, online play has also been removed for some reason, which deeply hurts the replayability and fun factor.
Save your money and buy Save the Earth, you will be glad you did.