Godzilla’s history in gaming has been pretty rocky to say the least. Despite the character and the whole concept of “giant monster destroys other giant monsters and/or towns” being perfect for gaming, Godzilla itself has never really benefited from the medium. Most of the kaiju pioneer’s games have been dreadful, and it’s been up to other companies to pay homage to kaiju movies to do justice to them. Rampage was the first to really do this, while SNK’s King of the Monsters and Singletrac’s own War of the Monsters took the concept into more of a fighting game than a world-destruction game.
In each case, you had a game that focused on delivering fast-paced action in some form or fashion. King of the Monsters had a slight pro wrestling motif to it, while War of the Monsters went for more of a drive-in movie vibe. Godzilla’s latest game tries to go with a B-movie approach, and succeeds in some big ways. Unfortunately, the game fails in the most important area – it simply isn’t very fun to play.
The game has brief glimpses of what it could be, but it can never maintain that traction for a significant length of time. It begins promisingly enough with a black and white incarnation of the original 1964 Godzilla terrorizing a city and destroying things and enemies. It shows that the developers cared about the source material, but even it has some weird elements as Godzilla clips through buildings and his body just appears to be in water and doesn’t seem to be moving in it realistically. It all looks a bit cheap even with filters on to disguise things. From there, you can choose a variety of modes including God of Destruction, King of Kaiju, Evolution, and an online versus mode.
God of Destruction is very much like the tutorial area, only spread out over far more levels. You’ll struggle to kill things, avoid being killed, and then finally win by…destroying generators. Sure, they contain G-Energy to make Godzilla more powerful, but holy crap is that just a bizarre and weak concept overall. It’s like promising a trip to an amusement park, selling it as Disney World, and then getting to Diznee World with Bernard Buck – or the Griswolds trying to get to Wally World only to see that it’s shut down.
Sadly, Godzilla lacks anything as fun as a glorious Chevy Chase rant. Instead, you get to struggle with an awkward camera system and try to move this lumbering beast with L1 and R1. It sort of works, but nowhere near as you would think it should. If Jumping Flash could nail 3D movement far better in a PS1 launch title 20 years ago, then there’s really no excuse for such shoddy movement controls in a game now. The glacial pace of the beast fits things in theory, but he winds up feeling like a tree that happens to move than a creature with limbs.
His attack variety is quite limited, and you’ll be using short-range hooks with medium-range tail whips and charging flame shots in some form or fashion forever. This remains a major problem until you at least unlock new characters, which you may never feel like doing because playing as Godzilla feels like more of a chore than a reward. Godzilla should feel like a behemoth, which they nailed – but he should also move with some sense of mobility, which isn’t the case here.
Godzilla shows flashes of greatness with the one and one fighting gameplay. There is a kiddy-pool level of depth to the combo system where you send foes reeling with left and right shots, some tail swings, and then a breath blast. Fights are disjointed, but when combined with their low-budget movie origins, it kind of works in the game’s favor to some degree. Unfortunately, that doesn’t make the game any more fun to play.
Surprisingly, for a PS3-turned-PS4 game, Godzilla does have some impressive visual flourishes. The scale of the monsters is conveyed perfectly – they look like massive beasts and tower over most structures in the game. They also animate impressively, even if the movement is rather sluggish. However, the cheapness of everything from buildings to water textures alongside constantly clipping through solid structures hurts things a lot. It makes the game seem lazily put together, and given how much care clearly went into it by it nailing the presentation, it’s a shame. You can tell that they wanted to craft the best Godzilla game possible, but seemingly didn’t have either the resources or skills to do so even if they had the heart to do it.
With that said, the devs did make ample use of the Godzilla theme, roar, and sound effect library. The game sounds exactly like a Godzilla game should. Sure, the original sound designers deserve a lot of credit – but the developers did make proper use of everything. Plus, the bad dialogue is original and perfectly in-keeping with what one would logically expect from a Godzilla film.
Godzilla has laid many eggs in gaming, and this is another one. Other than the presentation, Godzilla doesn’t do anything perfectly. This game at least nails the look and sounds of Godzilla, but the experience simply isn’t an enjoyable one. As a result, it’s a rental at best for Godzilla die-hards. Casual fans of the franchise would be better served watching a Godzilla marathon on the El Rey Network where we’ll hopefully get a Matanza the Monster vs. Godzilla battle. Most will be just fine skipping this game, which is a real shame since care went into it, but just not enough skilled work was put into it to make a worthwhile game.
Reviewed By: Jeremy Peeples
Publisher: Bandai Namco
This review is based on a digital copy of Godzilla for the PlayStation 4 provided by Bandai Namco.