The character of Godzilla debuted way back in 1954 and very quickly became a pop culture icon, especially in the country of Japan. The US saw a resurgence of the character with a brand new movie last summer, which would have seemed like the perfect time for a game release. Instead, one year later the very simply named Godzilla is out and while it is full of faithful kaiju related fan service, the game itself just feels like a hollow shell of what it could be.
Godzilla is largely known for his monsterous stature that towered over Tokyo for decades, and the game quickly puts players in that scenario through a rather short tutorial. While this is useful in teaching players the very basic controls, the slow pace at which it does almost feels like a precursor to the sluggish nature that plagues the game.
The meat of Godzilla is without a doubt the King of Destruction mode that serves as a makeshift campaign for the game. The basically non-existent story explains how Japan has become reliant on G-Energy that comes from Godzilla. Godzilla has now reappeared and the Japanese government is trying to stop him. The cutscenes are very dull and are repeated constantly in each playthrough, bringing us the very stilted dialogue again and again.
The first playthrough of King of Destruction mode requires one to use Godzilla, but after that it can be done with numerous other unlockable monsters. Made up of 25 stages in total, but each playthrough consists of only a small fraction of those as you move along a branching pathway. These range across easy, medium, and hard difficulties, but honestly there is not a lot of difference between them, as the lower difficulties will still thrust a giant sized kaiju at you, spiking the difficulty to almost unfair territory at times, depending on which monster it is.
The kaiju themselves are not a set height, as a level could have anywhere between a 50 M and 100 M version of any of the monsters. This is actually a nice feature that can bring an element of surprise to the game when first playing. Facing a 100 M Rodan or Biolante only midway through King of Destruction mode is likely not going to work out very well for you. The issue is that this mechanic of size difference would have worked much better if they followed a more gradual path of growth, considering your chosen kaiju can also grow.
Within each stage, there are essentially two objectives to complete, but the developer made the baffling decision to make the main mission pretty much the exact same in all of them. To start each level, you will be asked to destroy what are typically three generators, located around the map. At some point, an enemy kaiju will also appear on the scene that must be defeated. While there are a few kaiju-only stages, they are very few and far between here. The very miniscule level selection and objective types makes the game wear out its welcome all too quickly. The incredibly tedious generator destruction is made even worse by just how slow the game feels, especially when they add time limits into the equation.
Game developers have always struggled to capture the feel of playing as Godzilla between his size and moveset. At its core, Godzilla actually does play about as close to his movie counterpart as you could ask for as a fan. However, it is incredibly hard to translate that to an actual fun gaming experience, which is a major flaw of this game. While Godzilla is far from a speed demon in the movies, he moves at a snail’s pace in the game, whether he is walking or on the attack. It is possible to level up each character in a few ways through Evolution Mode, but for some reason there is a complete lack of speed upgrades, which could have made this much more tolerable.
While there are different moves available for each kaiju, most of the time fights against their enemies will all come down to essentially the same strategies. Moves like Godzilla’s charge attack are effective at tearing down buildings, but against enemies it is just a chance for them to take control. Instead, most every fight turns into either an up close brawl with the basic attacks or one where you have to keep your distance while slowly knocking off their life bar with the typically longer ranged strong attacks. Depending on which kaiju is being used, most fights will begin to blur together also, with the only variations coming against the Super X and Gotengo flying aircrafts that are deployed by the Japanese government.
While enemies have a life bar at all times, for some reason the developer chose to forgo providing one for the player. Instead, the health system is something more like a first-person shooter, where the screen will gradually grow redder. By avoiding being hit for a few seconds, this will then go away but eventually it occurs more often. It doesn’t make much sense as to why there wasn’t some sort of health bar implemented that could indicate to players when health is getting lower, as the screen doesn’t start to indicate it until you take a good bit of damage consecutively.
For those that prefer the one-on-one fights instead, there are two options available as well. Within King of Destruction, players have the opportunity to choose Defend and pick from a selection of only a few kaiju like Type-3 Kiryu and Mothra. Instead of destroying generators here, you must face off against another kaiju and prevent them from doing just that, as well as destroying other buildings. Your goal now is to prevent destruction, though most of the time the enemy will only focus on fighting, rather than destroying.
King of the Kaiju is the other option, which serves as essentially the game’s survival mode. Made up of only six fights that get progressively harder, there is really nothing special here, with little variation on the gameplay at all. More than anything, King of the Kaiju makes it even more disappointing that there is no type of split-screen multiplayer in the game at all.
Godzilla does offer players the ability to take the game online, but like most of the game, the options are incredibly limited. There is the ability to face off against up to two others online in a random pairing or against a friend. With a versus style mode built in here, it makes it even worse that there is no local multiplayer in a game that seems perfect for it.
Feels like a hollow shell of what it could be
While Godzilla as a whole is very disappointing, it does show some level of care for fans of the series. While the game starts with only one playable character, up to 21 more can be unlocked, giving players a solid variety of monsters to choose from, with only a few questionable omissions. The game adds a few notable kaiju to the original Japanese release for PS3 from last year, but the game is still missing Godzilla’s latest foe, the M.U.T.O., even though Godzilla 2014 is included in the game himself.
Building upon the respectable character roster, the Kaiju Guide provides fairly in-depth information about not only each of those monsters, but others that aren’t playable in the game. With 46 total entries that includes smaller details like their height, weight, abilities, and appearances. This can be good as a refresher course or a teaching tool for those that know little about the long running franchise.
In comparison, the Diorama mode is a slap in the face to Godzilla fans, as it is full of nothing but lost potential. Players can unlock bases, essentially the in-game stages, by reaching 100% destruction within each and those can be filled with collectible figures that you earn by upgrading each character in Evolution Mode. These are meant to be used to take pictures, but there is so little to this that it doesn’t even let you take pictures natively, but instead requires the PS4’s screenshot function. This is something that could have been fun as a way to set up your own matches, perhaps for something using split-screen multiplayer, but instead it is completely useless.
Godzilla may have been ported to PS4 alongside the PS3 release in the US, but the power of the PS4 is certainly not shown here in a graphical sense. There is nothing that looks abysmal, with the monsters looking quite good in fact, but the settings are downright plain. With such limited locations, some more detail on each area would have helped a lot to better the experience.
The latest Godzilla film, while flawed, really did a good job of bringing the character back to the US after so long, but Godzilla for PS4 cannot say the same. The gameplay feels sluggish and underwhelming alongside missions that barely change, though the large roster of characters is appreciated for longtime fans. Those looking for an atomic blast of fun with this game are going to be sorely disappointed, as Godzilla can only muster a weak roar in this outing.
- Available On: PS3, PS4
- Published By: Bandai Namco Entertainment
- Developed By: Bandai Namco Entertainment
- Genre: Action-Adventure
- US Release Date: July 14th, 2015
- Reviewed On: PS4
- Quote: "Godzilla has managed to strike terror on the patrons of Tokyo for years, but sadly his latest game does that for very different reasons. By providing slow gameplay and downright boring levels, Godzilla manages to somehow take all of the fun out of playing with giant monsters."
- Solid roster of characters to unlock
- Kaiju Guide is quite informative
- Game is way too sluggish
- Same missions over and over again
- Complete lack of local multiplayer
- Useless Diorama Mode