On a certain level, Godzilla should be an incredibly easy concept to translate to video games. After all, who wouldn’t want to whittle away a few hours by destroying a city and fighting off giant, ridiculous kaiju as the king of the monsters? However, aside from the unofficial Godzilla classic Rampage, no one has ever quite managed to find a formula that translates the special joy of old-timey Japanese giant monster movies into the realm of videogames. This latest attempt from Atari and Bandi is filled with loving fan service and an attempt at a bizarre control scheme to give players the sense of scale associated with being Godzilla. For the first hour or so of playtime, the game tickles players with memories of their favourite Godzilla movies of the past. After that, you’ve got to deal with the horrible gameplay itself, and sadly, the novelty wears off fast.

nQPqOJL

But oh-boy, what fun the game can be early on. Things kick off with a tutorial level in black and white backed by the iconic score of the 1954 classic that kicked off the career of the big green guy. For someone who adores good ol’ Godzilla, it’s pretty much impossible not to feel your face contort into a big dopey smile. Sure, the controls are a bit wonky; you have to turn with the shoulder buttons for some reason (didn’t dual analogue sticks put an end to that?), and there are only a couple of clunky attacks available. But it looks good, sounds amazing, and the clunkiness of the controls does make you feel a bit like a big lumbering monster. At that point, I just hoped that the attack options and monster speed would improve as the game went on and I enjoyed the nostalgic magic.

Unfortunately, there was to be no evolution to the controls. Nope, they are that clunky and the monsters do move that slowly throughout. It’s clear the designers were going for a fresh control approach in an attempt to impart a sense of lumbering scale, but it gets tedious rather quickly, as does the game as a whole. There’s a very simple formula to the main story mode; you trudge through a generic city as Godzilla, smash everything in your way, fight another monster through awkward spam attacks, destroy some important landmark, and move on. That really is it; and it’ll all be over in a few hours. There’s backtracking involved to collect items to unlock the final boss battle, as well as a vast array of playable classic kaiju, but that repetition only adds to the games tedium, rather than inspiring replay value.

godzilla_screenshot-06-ps4-ps3-us-19mar15

The story is pretty rough, but then again the Godzilla series was never exactly renowned for it’s complex narratives. In fact, the silly tale, ludicrous dialogue, and wooden voice acting only adds to the nostalgia value for Godzilla fans. Toss in pretty well every conceivable classic Godzilla monster from Mothra and Gamera to Mechagodzilla and you’ve got a game littered with fan service that was clearly made by people who love the property. In a way, that’s what makes it so frustrating; so much of it feels right and delivers shivers of nostalgia that I constantly tried to convince myself that I was enjoying the experience more than I actually was. The designers made fantastic use of their acquired brand; they simply failed to create a compelling game to contain it. This includes the visuals. Sure, you’ll see all those monsters in HD, but the generic and repetitive cityscapes and inexplicably clean urban explosions don’t just feel like a delayed PS3 game; at times the blocky graphics look like something from the PS2 era. That’s a real shame, especially since every conceivable classic sound effect has been included. Close your eyes and it sounds like the Godzilla game of your dreams. Open them and the illusion is shattered.

SEE ALSO:  God of War III (PS3) Review

Aside from the main story mode, there are a handful of other side games to beef up the experience. You can strip away the story entirely for God Of Destruction Mode, allowing you to mow down the same boring cities as any other monster in the game. You can choose to be a monster like Mothra defending a city from Godzilla’s attack. Or you can participate in online multiplayer fights with up to three monsters of your choice. Unfortunately, it doesn’t make much of a difference which classic kaiju you command; they all have the same frustratingly limited controls. They all move using that same awkward control stick/shoulder button combo, and they all have a light attack, heavy attack, and shooting attack that can only be awkwardly combined in so many ways. Even after playing the game for a few hours, my attack strategy remained the same: just smash the attack buttons as often as possible while awkwardly repositioning the camera and hope for the best. Yep, it’s that clunky. If you get tired of struggling through the tedious gameplay and just want to look at all the kaiju you’ve collected, you can set them up in city dioramas and take pictures, so... that’s kind of fun, right? I know, I know…I’m stretching…

OOeDAhd

I really wanted to love this new Godzilla game. Every time a developer tries to take another swing at delivering a game worthy of the king of the monsters, I slide it into my console and hope for the best, and I’m let down every time. Somehow building a game around Godzilla and his rubber suit buddies trading punches and crushing buildings has proven to be an impossible task for generations of designers. This latest addition to the dubious Godzilla video game legacy definitely deserves points for the depth and care of the fan service that brings countless familiar Godzilla sights and sounds to your PS4. The people who delivered the basic look and sounds of this thing clearly love the property. It’s just a shame that the game itself is dragged down by such irritating controls and tedious gameplay that the audio/visual novelty wears off almost instantly. Sadly, this is yet another failure to add to your stack of abandoned Godzilla games. Guess it’s time to go play Rampage again. Sigh…