Developed By: Natsume Atari
Players: 1 – 4 (online multiplayer only)
Yeah, the one that spawned the “Godzilla is approaching the generator!” meme, as popularized by “Angry” Joe Vargas.
And keeping that in mind, is worth noting that the obnoxiously repeated observation is also pointless, because you can check the “health” of the generator just by looking at how many of the spinnings parts of it are red and unmoving.
Just so you know this is shit from the start.
Bring your shovel, there’s a lot of whatsit to plow through.
BUDGET GAMING, MAXIMUM PRICE
To get things in prospective, this game is a port from PS3 of a budget game, as is obvious by looking at the graphics, it looks like Earth Defense Force, with fog everywhere outside of the level confines, the small numbers of locales that are recycled over and over, buildings that light up and just explode when they’ve taken enough damage, with the kaiju being the only thing that’s presentable for a PS4 release. Kinda. Not really, but definitely the best looking models in the game.
Besides the fact the Namco Bandai just decided to sell a budget game for full price while bringing it out of Japan (which is shit, it’s a supreme dick move), there’s the problem that, unlike Earth Defence Force, there’s very little fun to be had, even if you like niche titles (like the ones Sandlot makes), because the main game mode is setup in a way that can be beaten under 1 hour, but as you may think, there’s a catch, there’s gotta be.
Of course there is, because it’s one of THOSE crap titles, that forces you to replay the story mode (here called “God Of Destruction”) over and over just so you can actually access the final stage and see the ending. Yes, instead of a linear progression, there’s a branching path system for the mode, which might sound good for replay value, but isn’t, because you can’t actually reach the final stage until you collect pretty much all the data on Godzilla. Which brings us to the gameplay.
FORKLIFT MONSTERS, LUMBER!
Controlling Godzilla (or another kaiju) feels like moving around a forklift, an organic tank of sorts, since you need to turn the monster by using L1 and R1, and overall it does feel like you’re a dude in a rubber suit trying to trudge through excessive heat inside the costume, with poor viewing of whatever you’re supposed to destroy, be it toy tanks and helicopters laden in a miniature set, or another fella tasked with the same sweaty, uncomfortable job of creating the illusion of monsters fighting.
Sure, it feels like a playable version of the old Godzilla movies, but it doesn’t excuse anything, because you still feel like an elridtch forklift-dinosaur hybrid slowly moving through small levels, with obtuse controls and… a combat system. Kinda. It’s a broken, unbalanced affair, that gives you a quick combo attack, a strong one, a lunge, a grab attack, a beam/breath attack that uses the heat gauge, and a “dodge” manouver that also drains the heat gauge when used.
Well, it’s a defensive manouver, yes, but it’s not a “dodge”, it just gives your character invincibility frames and pushes back monsters with an explosion.
You can also roar, which can be used to power up some moves, but you’ll forget about it soon, because there’s no sense of balance, or any useful “abilities” like targeting, at all. And the game doesn’t show you the movelist in the pause menu if you use Godzilla, for some fuckin reason i can’t fathom.
You just punch the air and hope whatever occupies its space won’t do something that ignores your attacks, like most enemy kaiju love doing, by starting combos you can’t do shit about unless you can “dodge” or happen to use a move that also interrupts the enemy just before its attack lands. You can grab and bite or throw smaller monsters, and yes, size matters, because a bigger monster is a stronger monster, so it’s important to collect G Energy by destroying all the breakable, which includes helicopters, tank, turrets, and – of course – the generators, which are – as you might expect- stationary, with their means of defense being a force field once in a while.
Aside these inane, broken, and tiresome slapfights with other kaijus, army superweapons like the Gotengo (or the Super X), the aforemented generator massacre, you will have to “collect data” by stopping in some designated spots in the stage for some time, so the army can collect video footage that somehow helps them creating a super weapon to fight Godzilla. That’s it. In later stages you will need to destroy the generators before the time limit expires, and/or fight multiple kaijus at once, just to be as cheap and frustrating as it can, in a desperate bid to falsify a sense of difficulty,
Wait, how i can forget the small square area in the sea, that’s is pathetically small, and instead of generators has nuclear submarines that emerge once in a while, but still serve as a normal generators? When it’s not THIS pathetic, “Godzilla PS4” is repetitive, which could be forgiven if the core gameplay was fun to some extent, but it really isn’t, you can squeeze a very little bit of catharsis out of it, but the repetition just erodes any fun you can have with this game, this broken, boring mess, without any sense of balance.
And i’m not just talking about the shitty mess that passes for a combat system.
THE CONTENT IS AT THE BOTTOM
Sometimes you choose the more difficult branch/route, and are pit against a reasonably sized kaiju. Other times you choose the easy route as soon as possible, and BAM!, the game throws a monster almost twice your size, which in some cases is nearly impossible to defeat, even by exploiting the system, because the bigger size will make it flinch a lot less when hit, thus making the tedious and patient approach more aggravating against some opponents like Gigan.
There’s no rime or reason to this, as stages that should be hard are easy, ones that should be easy become hard, and sometimes the kaiju that should be appearing… just doesn’t, doesn’t matter if you loiter around the stage for some more minutes, sometimes it just won’t appear, at all. Unbelievable.
I didn’t mention that you can upgrade your kaiju with the collected energy and the “evolution factors” obtained by defeating certain monsters… because it really doesn’t matter, in the end. You can make the monsters learn new moves, but the grinding required is so absurd, that by then you’ll have already played the game more than you should (maybe enough to beat it, even), you’ll already know how to exploit the shitty combat to your favor, and probably upgraded the heat gauge so you can use the atomic breath or the “dodge” thing more than once in a row.
Even more because the G energy collected is NOT shared by all kaiju, so if you want to make Mothra learn a new move or do an upgrade, you’ll be forced (after unlocking it) to play the story mode as said monster. Or you’ll need to fight a specific one to obtain evolution materials, which is easier said than done, because – as i said before – you can’t predict if the stage that says you’ll fight a certain kaiju… will remember to even trigger the damn thing when it should. And if you’re in the middle of the story mode when trying to upgrade a kaiju, you can do it, but it won’t be applied until the run is done. Just to be extra dickish.
God Of Destruction by default is played using Godzilla (1984 “Return Of Godzilla” version), it can also be played using the other unlocked kaiju, but this is also made more complex for the sake of it. You can basically play the game like Godzilla – minus the “camera data recording” bullshit – if you choose to “invade” as an evil kaiju (like King Ghidorah or Biollante), or “defend” as good kaiju like Mothra or Super Mechagodzilla.
In the latter case, you have to defend the generators from the invading monsters, and avoid reaching a certain destruction rate to pass the stage, with growth depending on how much destruction you avoided. Which makes the gameplay even more mindless and boring, as you gotta sprint to the opposing kaiju and kill him as quickly as possible, erasing every little, minuscule layer of complexity – or fun – this game could have.
It’s a shame since each monster has his own moveset and feels different enough from others (outside of various versions of the same character, like Godzilla 1964 and Godzilla 1984), but it doesn’t matter given how atrocious the fighting “system” this game is built upon.
STORY OF OLD
In case you were wondering about the plot of this turd, the story – as usual for japanese Godzilla works – seems to ignore all movies but the 1954 original, as it depicts a Japan running on G Energy, an energetic resource discovered in Godzilla, and used in generators to power all kind of technology n shit. But 60 years later Big G comes back from the sea to wreck havoc on the generators, hankering for a big lunch, or something.
Like in Godzilla Vs Destoroyah, in the last act Godzilla (after fighting his 2014 movie incarnation, just because) is in meltdown and next to burst in a catastrophic explosion (this form called “Burning Godzilla”, with red eyes and lava-like glowing parts of the body), but is ultimately frozen by the army, and Kiryu (the 3rd form of Mechagodzilla) helds the frozen Godzilla, brings it in the middle of the Atlantic Sea, and they both dive down into the abyss.
Not worth playing the game so much to actually see the ending of it, but this is story, and it’s kinda crap as well, i can’t feign any surprise, or sarcasm.
The english voice acting is actually pretty decent, almost good, but the dialogue is just guff, old, boring, clichè guff. Doesn’t help that voice alerts are used in a way that makes them really obnoxious, boring, and almost feel patronizing, not quite there because they think players are stupid and will not notice the obvious, but annoying nonetheless.
Outside of the main mode and the upgrade system (counted as Evolution Mode), there is something else to play, for the desperate and/or masochistic fan of Godzilla.
King Of Kaiju is just a boss rush, which lets you use any unlocked monsters, and makes you fight 6 kaiju in a row (2 easy, 2 medium, 2 strong, in this order). Not much to say about this one, besides how lazy the developer were, as they just left the generators where they were placed in that area/zone, when they don’t have any use whatsoever in this mode. Lovely.
The PS4 version has a new online vs mode…. which isn’t really worth it, due to both the unbalanced and broken combat system, and no matchmaking balance as well, so you may spend a lot of time searching for another player, and enjoy getting bullied by someone that has spent way too much time on this, and can use the atomic breath move like 5 times in 20 seconds.
This, when the framerate doesn’t randomly drop in an inexcusable manner (for what it’s on screen), or when it doesn’t freeze – kinda, the music is still playing, but just that – and forces you to close the game from the PS4 menù. It happened, at least twice.
To be frank, the best part of the game is the Kaijupedia, filled with a lot of info, specs and trivia about many monsters that appear in the franchise, not only the monsters playable here. I’m not being hyperbolic by saying i had the most fun reading the enciclopedia they put together, and it’s kinda sad, because here you can see a lot of passion for the subject material. And being developed by Natsume (which rebranded itself Natsume Atari in 2013), you’d expect better. A lot better.
Almost forgot about Diorama Mode, which is cute, i guess, makes more sense to me here than in does in Senran Kagura, but i can’t say i care about it, at all. Especially since you can basically make the same things you could in real life with action figures, a smarthphone, some miniatures and cardboard, nothing special made possible by this being a videogame, at all. Not that you bought the game for this mode, you didn’t.
I’d wish to say that press and outlets were a bit unfair on the PS4’s Godzilla (since calling it “Godzilla 2014” makes it seems like it’s a tie-in to the Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla reboot, it isn’t), but as much as i want to say that, i really can’t. This deserved ALL the bad press and loathing it got.
Besides the fact that Namco Bandai brought this budget game over to the west with a full price tag, it’s hard to give a pass to the obvious low budget as hell technical aspect (which would have been a bit embarassing even on the PS3), when you have a game that looks like EDF 2017 – heavy “fog”, small number of recycled locales, cheap destruction effects – but unlike EDF, isn’t fun at all, even if you like niche titles of this genre and semplicity, and you’d expect better from Natsume (Natsume Atari, now).
If you’re a fan of Godzilla and niche stuff, you CAN distill some fun out of it, there some satisfaction to wanton architecture destruction with a big atomic dinosaur, but it’s an extremely small and short-lived one, and after 1 hour (or less) you’ll get bored of having to replay the story mode over and over again, in order to even make some progress and seen the ending of the mediocre story, narrated with decent enough english voice acting, but littered with awfully trite dialogue.
Some games can be fun despite repetition if the gameplay loop is fun, but the core gameplay is made of badly controlling a forklift-monster hybrid that moves slowly in very small, reused levels, tasked to destroy still target and battle other monsters with what i struggle to call a combat system, so simple, broken, lacking and unbalanced the fighting is, with lack of any nuance or basic thing like precise targeting, so fighting airborne enemies or flying army vehicles is a matter of hoping your attacks somehow reach the opponents. Not that it matters since the many enemy monsters (all playable, at least there is a big monster roster), will almost always ignore your combos and start their own anyway, until you learn how to exploit the system.
It’s baffling how easy should be to make a good Godzilla game, but atrocious titles based on the Toho monster star are more numerous than good ones, and this one is so bad that – without hyperbole – the best thing in it is the included encyclopedia of monsters from the franchise, another sign that the developers really cared for Godzilla, but apparently didn’t turn this affection into any effort in the gameplay department.