Godzilla Review – Clunky Kaiju (PS4)
Think back to some of the old Godzilla movies. Sure, they had sub-par plots, poor acting, and a lack of impressive visual effects, but they were fun, partially because they were somewhat goofy and partially because they introduced numerous memorable and unique kaiju (monsters). Bandai Namco’s Godzilla game on the PlayStation 4 feels a lot like one of these old movies, the only difference being it isn’t fun. Not at all.
Over and Over and Over Again
The main story mode of Godzilla is called “God of Destruction,” where players take on the role of Godzilla as he runs around Japan causing mayhem. The mode is divided up into separate levels, although in each level players literally have the same goals — destroy all of the generators on the map, and kill all other kaiju that pop up. There are some side goals, too, such as trample all the buildings on the map or stand still and “collect data” from specific places, but players are not allowed to move on until all the generators and other kaiju are gone.
Having the same goal for each level wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing, if not all the maps looked the same. Maybe it’s because the game has awful graphics, (and I really mean awful. Like, PS2 visuals at times) but I never could tell if I was playing on a new map or if this was a map I already played through five times. The buildings all looked the same, the generators are all spaced out in the same, basic pattern, and enemy kaiju always seem to arrive 30 to 60 second into the level. The only thing that changes from level to level in the God of Destruction mode is the height of Godzilla, who grows several meters after each level is completed.
This, of course, makes the whole mode feel incredibly repetitive. What makes it even worse is that in order to unlock all other playable kaiju, which can only be unlocked by defeating them in God of Destruction, players have to play through God of Destruction multiple times, as it is set up in such a way that not all the levels can be taken on in one playthrough. No, the playthroughs don’t actually take all that long, but they are so repetitive that going through a single level can feel like forever.
There are some variations on the core God of Destruction mode, but these really aren’t any better. One such variation allows players to playthrough the same, repetitive story using a kaiju other than Godzilla, while another variation has the player try to defend Japan against invading kaiju. This offers something a little bit different, but it still feels repetitive because there’s another gameplay mode, called “King of Kaiju,” that’s fairly similar. In King of Kaiju, players have to battle six back-to-back kaiju, allow them to quickly gain resources that can be used to upgrade unlocked kaiju. The upgrades do add something interesting to the game, as new moves and stronger attacks can be obtained, but they do not make the game’s combat any more enjoyable.
Sadly, combat in Godzilla is simply boring. For one, movement is incredibly slow, which helps give the kaiju the feeling that they are huge and lumbering, but also unnecessarily elongates the fights. Another issue is that L1 and R1 are used to actually turn the kaiju, with the right stick simply moving the camera. This allows players to view battles in a more cinematic way, but it makes moving around a lot more difficult than it needed to be, especially since there is no “lock-on” button, meaning you need to constantly move around in an effort to actually face your target.
On top of that, each kaiju only has a few core moves, and even these are slow and clunky. There are some basic attack moves, like stupidly swinging Godzilla’s tail around or having Godzilla paw at the air, and then there is one basic special move, which uses up a little energy gauge. This is usually a ranged attack, but the downfall of using it is that it completely drains the energy gauge, which also has to be used in order to “dodge” enemy attacks. The reason “dodge” is in quotes is because after using it, you don’t see the kaiju move out of the way. Nope, instead it just uses an attack, although while using that attack it can’t be damaged. It is one of the laziest “dodge” or “blocking” mechanism that I’ve ever seen, and since it is tied to the energy gauge, it can’t even be used in a useful way.
That’s okay, though, because the enemy AI really isn’t all that bright, and since the game doesn’t have a local co-op mode, you probably won’t be playing with friends. There is an online mode, but that really can’t compare to playing locally with a group of buddies all in the same room. The only positive thing I have to say about the combat, and this isn’t really even about the combat, is that there are quite a few kaiju to unlock and play as, including slightly more obscure ones such as Jet Jaguar and Biollante.
To go with the numerous playable kaiju, there is a Kaiju Guide, which gives information on numerous kaiju found in the Godzilla movies, showing off images of them in the movies and even providing information on where and when they first appeared. This, along with a Diorama Mode, which allows players to recreate their favorite movie scenes using a variety of backdrops and different kaiju figurines, does provide fans with some extra activities to do in the game, and I found that I liked these two things more than the actual gameplay itself.
I think it’s pretty clear that unless you are a massive fan of the Godzilla movies, you should probably stay away from Bandai Namco’s Godzilla. While it does have a lot of fan service, it really doesn’t have much else besides clunky gameplay, horrible visuals, and repetitive gameplay. Maybe try going back and playing Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters Melee for a decent Godzilla experience?
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