It’s been a solid 8 years since the UK was graced with a Godzilla game on consoles. Our last monster mash was Godzilla: Unleashed on Wii and PS2 back in 2007. So finally, Godzilla: The Game that originally released in 2014 for Japanese PS3 owners has received a western release on PS3 and PS4. The PS4 version received some significant upgrades and content additions, with more available kaiju playable and the standard graphical boost. The real question is, how fun is Godzilla: The Game compared to its predecessors?
Aaaand that’s a tricky question! The game itself is a fun concept – the main campaign called “God Of Destruction” mode sees you as Godzilla, or any kaiju that you unlock later, stampeding through cities, destroying G-Energy generators and absorbing it by destroying buildings and other structures. The plot is essentially that Godzilla turned up one day and before he left humans managed to research what makes him tick and generate a new kind of energy dubbed G-Energy which eventually powers the majority of our civilisation’s technology. So it’s kind-of a revenge story with Godzilla is trying to take back what was his and absorb the newfound G-Energy to become stronger. Occasionally another monster will turn up to try and stop you, or the military will send out their own inventions besides the tanks and helicopters that are basically nothing to Godzilla. You select a path to travel after each level, which then decides your overall route for the game and the next level/monster you might face. While in each level, you also have a strange objective where you briefly swap to a human’s angle as they take a photograph of you. You can still control Godzilla but if you leave the photography area it’ll cancel the picture. Each picture is considered ‘research’, and there’s four per level. As you collect it the humans will unlock more ways to counteract Godzilla, which in turn also unlocks the final stages of this mode where the humans unleash newer, stronger weapons and you fight an all new final boss after the credits.
If you choose to play the main campaign as a different kaiju, you’ll either be helping Godzilla destroy everything or protecting cities from attacking kaiju. These campaigns play out almost the same, except if you’re protecting cities your goal is mostly to destroy opposing monsters as quickly as possible. To unlock other monsters, you’ll have to fight opposing Kaiju as godzilla or in the King of Kaiju mode and collect their evolution items (more on that later).
King of Kaiju mode is basically an arcade-style fighting mode. You take on wave after wave of monster that get stronger until you finish off the final one. The kaijus are mostly random but you’re more likely to see weaker ones, like Mothra (Larvae) earlier on. Then you’ve got VS mode, which is an online battle gametype that pits you against online players in 1v1 and 1v1v1 battles. Admittedly, this is my least liked mode but still managed to enjoy a solid 1v1v1 battle that was three Godzillas mashing into each other. While in lobbys for VS mode, the largest height you’ve gotten Godzilla to in God of Destruction mode and the quickest time you’ve beat King of Kaiju mode are shown alongside your total number of wins in VS mode… and I honestly don’t see the point of this but maybe I’m just a massive scrublord.
Ok, those are the core modes of the game. You’ve also got Evolution mode and Diorama mode. Evolution Mode lets you upgrade and unlock new monsters. You can increase some monsters movesets, purchase their figures for use in Diorama mode and mostly just use up the sparse materials you gain by defeating other kaiju. There’s tons to unlock but it actually feels like too much, considering how few materials drop from fights. Diorama Mode lets you set up monsters in certain poses and take pictures. I feel that this mode really only calls out to the die-hard fans of Godzilla, as there isn’t much to do besides setting up monsters in a selection of poses and making them look like they’re fighting – there’s even a black/white toggle so you can make the pictures look like classic Godzilla films, and recreate scenes from them!
The selection of kaiju available is MASSIVE. From tons of variations on Godzilla including my favourite, the one from the 2014 Godzilla movie, to Battra, Mothra, Gigan and some more unique and lesser known monsters like Jet Jaguar and Kiryu. The roster is absolutely insane and, if you can find the evolution items, adds a huge variety to the game. Not feeling like being the titular character? Try someone new and weird out, King Ghidorah is pretty fun. The stages you can play on aren’t that varied though – they’re all basically just alternate building placements that take more or less time to destroy depending on where you are. The easiest way to unlock a few monsters earlier on is to play a few rounds of King of Kaiju mode to unlock a handful of evolution materials early on. There are a handful of huge balance issues though, so be careful when going into an online match. Some monsters are clearly only in the game for fans – Mothra’s larvae form and Jet Jaguar are pretty weak compared to monsters like Biollante and Destoroyah.
So it all sounds like fun right? Kicking monster ass and taking names. But this is where the downsides come in. The controls are somewhat clunky. Each monster controls like a tank, with L1 and R1 being used to make them turn, while the analog stick makes them walk in the direction you move it. Think Resident Evil 1’s control system but a little more awkward. The rest of the controls are fine, but these tank controls take a lot of getting used to. I came back to play the game a couple hours after switching it off for the first time and it took me a solid 2 minutes or so to relearn the controls, I was absolutely baffled. If you pick up this game, be prepared to actually put effort into learning the controls – otherwise you’ll be lost.
Basically, this game is a massive timesink. You’re expected to replay the main campaign dozens of times to collect all the research and get 100% destruction on each area before you can even face the final boss. Unlocking upgrades takes huge amounts of dedication, either burning through King of Kaiju mode with your best character or hoping you bump into monsters in the main campaign that you actually need parts of. It’s a strenuous process and only the truly dedicated will go for 100% completion, as it could take tons of time.
Despite its flaws, the game mostly looks and sounds great. There’s tons of classic orchestral scores and familiar kaiju noises like the famous Godzilla roar, the game’s initial tutorial is in black & white and is set in the 60s to add a nostalgic element to the intro. Godzilla: The Game caters to its die-hard fans while being just a little too tough for the newbies. It has to be noted though, there is a Kaiju Guide that lets you read up on the monsters you’ve unlocked and learn more about their history in the Godzilla universe which I thought was a nice touch. I’m certainly no expert on Godzilla so this, combined with some info from the Godzilla wiki, was a real help.
Godzilla: The Game is a nostalgic punch to the gut packed with replayability for those really into the Godzilla universe, but if you like piloting crazy monsters and levelling cities to the ground, this is also the game for you. Just anticipate having to learn about the Godzilla universe if you want to understand most of the game. I’m sure there’s dozens of nods to classic movies and games that flew right over my head as I was playing, because this game isn’t geared towards the average gamer.
If you see it on sale for a reasonable price, I’d say pick it up. But if you’re not a big Godzilla fan, at a full £40 for the game it might be worth waiting a little while before investing your money and time.