I don’t know how to feel about Godzilla. It’s a train wreck of a game that went off the rails and crashed into the wall of my bitter, wretched heart. It feels like they’ve deliberately tried to make a game that’s bad in the conventional sense so that it will appeal to fans of the Godzilla series. The “budget” feeling of this (fully priced) game actually lends itself well to recreating the charm of the movies (except that one.) It is still a terrible game by many measures, however. I wouldn’t say you should lower your expectations going in, you would do well to alter them. It certainly took me awhile, but I eventually learned to appreciate the game for the dumb fun it strives to be. Still super awful.
SUPER SENTAI GOJIRA TRIPLE-A, ENGAGE!
Godzilla has a story in the same way that the old movies had a story: A cheesy, poorly written vessel to take you from fight to fight. Godzilla has returned and is here for the G-Energy, which is now apparently used in place of electricity, the greatest source of which is in G-Energy Generators. Naturally, these are nestled among cities and densely built areas ripe for stomping. Trying to stop you, however, are the human G-Forces (yep) and other Kaiju from throughout the Godzilla series (except that one.) Difficulty changes are explained in-game with political leadership changes; the characters playing as Prime Ministers are awful and appropriate. Easy mode guy is practically a hippy, Normal mode has a by-the-rules kind of guy, and Hard mode is a fiery-tempered woman who slowly goes insane as the levels go by. Ultimately, you work your way towards destroying the human race – good times!
The dialogue is atrocious but with an air of self-awareness; it’s not badly performed, and, in fact, sounds way better than some other “triple A” titles I’ve played in the past. Kaiju arrivals on the battlefield are sometimes blocked by buildings that have yet to be destroyed while the NPC announcer screeches excitedly at a cooling tower. Speaking of, there’s no explanation at all during the story mode for why these other Kaiju just show up out of nowhere to screw up Godzilla’s day. That seems to be their only purpose in existence too, and they fulfill it with gusto though I’ll get into that in a moment. Just… don’t look for a story here. As best I can tell this it’s all a flimsy pretext for a “What if” game starring Tohu’s best of, and that’s kind of awesome.
Mothra Larvae absolutely crushing King Gidorah. Because why not? It’s so small you can’t even see it behind Gidorah!
I wasn’t kidding when I said the Kaiju mess up Godzilla; they cruelly beat on you like it’s their job, and your worst enemy in all this is the control scheme. It takes tank controls to a frustrating new level, limiting the left stick to backward and forwards motion (and, oddly, strafing), with R1 and L1 being used for turning. Turning isn’t just slow but unwieldy too, and you often end up walking right into your opponent while trying to face them. There’s no real combo and counter system either, so if you manage to string together a few attacks that stun the enemy (they all stun the enemy), then you’re set. Unfortunately, the same applies to them, and God help you if they’re low on health. I can’t prove anything, but I would swear it grants them some kind of dramatically appropriate power increase.
Your powers start out pretty basic and can be leveled up over time with “Evolution Factors” that are obtained from defeated Kaiju. The unlock requirements for each power usually come from a few different Kaiju, however, and not all of them can be encountered in the same run. The result is a lot of grinding with very gradual progression, something that applies to just about all of the unlocks in Godzilla. Truth be told, this isn’t strictly a bad thing because Godzilla spaces out the rest of the unlockable content over a decent amount of time. Whether it be new characters, modes, or levels, you’ll get some pretty great rewards for meeting the right victory conditions. It’s just that whether or not you have fun on your way there is based entirely on your enjoyment and appreciation of Tohu-style Godzilla films.
Which is to say, do you like to see people in ridiculous suits flail at each other? THEN STEP THIS WAY!
The fights are ridiculous, let’s just get that out of the way now. They look completely silly, and they’re trumped in that regard only by the “destruction” of the environments. Taking into account what I said above about how the fights play out, imagine how that would appear. Kaiju exaggeratedly recoil backward and roar deafeningly loud when hit, attacks require an excessive amount of telegraphic wind-up and a huge amount of space to unleash. The whole thing actually captures the feeling of the movies’ fight scenes quite well, which is why the city-rampage aspect of the game is so disappointing, even by strange Godzilla standards. Buildings don’t crumble and buckle under your attacks but will instead sustain so much damage before flashing and exploding. Maybe it’s just an effect of the G-Energy because everything explodes when you hit it in this game, from the smallest house to the tallest skyscraper.
A completion requirement for bonus content is to destroy 100% of each locale, which is sometimes easier said than done. As little as 1% can be attributed to the tiniest bridge, metal frame, or something else equally impossible to find among an otherwise 99% ruined Metropolis. There are also no people running around on the ground beneath you while you rampage around these cities and facilities, which is a real bummer. It feels like there’s a big part of the Godzilla vibe missing without the terrified screams of millions as I trample them under foot. Couple that with the lackluster way buildings are destroyed, and one of the major parts of the design starts to feel like a chore to complete. It can also take such a long time to reach 100% completion on every level that it’s almost like you’ve just starred in your own little unofficial Godzilla movie.
Godzilla VS the #$%*&!@ Bridge that’s Hiding Somewhere on this Map, God Damn, Where is that Thing!?
For all the complaints I’ve laid out about the game so far, it would be pretty clear to any fan of the series that the creators of this game had a deep love and passion for Godzilla. Sure, there are so many easter eggs and little nods to the franchise that have been hidden around the game that might suggest that already but there’s more to it than that. Everything in this game that would normally make a conventionally bad game is actively contributing to an amazing Godzilla game. The Kaiju control like out-of-control washing machines drifting through molasses because that’s how they move in the movies. It takes time (a lot of time) to build up your powers because that’s how they were introduced throughout the movies: G-radually.
The script and dialogue for the NPC characters are terrible because that’s how it is in the Toho films though they’re still well performed. The Kaiju have been faithfully recreated from their original counterparts, no matter how goofy (as HD versions, however, not crappy costume recreations… though that would be AMAZING.) There are, like, five different versions of Godzilla that you can play from the otherwise fairly extensive roster, including the 2014 “Hollywood Godzilla.” But still not that one. From what I’ve heard while playing, there’re only five or six music tracks that get played on nauseating loops though they’re still tracks from the old movies. Among the unlockable content is a Diorama Mode, that you can use to make your own little epic battles, and a Kaiju Guide that gives you a wiki-lite read on the series’ past. All of this amounts to a case of “so-bad-it’s-good” and you have to be in on the joke to enjoy it.
Hey there, handsome. Do you come here often?
Godzilla is an awful game in the conventional sense but damned if it doesn’t do the movie series proper justice. It has the tankiest control scheme I’ve ever used. It models its combat system a little too closely on the movies at times. And it takes forever to level up each Kaiju; although it’s all in the name of good fun. There’s a clear and present love for the series going on in this game, from the detailed Kaiju recreations to the cheesy NPC dialogue, or the large amount of unlockable or secret content. It’s let down in some of the minor details, such as no NPC humans being present on the battlefield itself or frustrating to find buildings though they are still minor. Much like Godzilla himself this game is a slow and lumbering beast, but it can entertain and surprise if you give it the chance.
DISCLAIMER: this game was supplied to us by the publisher, and reviewed on PS4 across 12 hours of gameplay.