It’s about time! We’ve finally been gifted a Godzilla game with a true sense of scale, an immervise feeling of pure destruction, and a new benchmark for current-gen graphics! The above will hopefully be true someday, but the sad truth is that it still exists as a pipe dream as opposed to reality thanks to the gigantic clunker that is BANDAI NAMCO’s Godzilla.
The most immediate turn-off here are the visuals. As soon as the opening cinematic ends, you know you’re going into a pretty rough ride. But then the tutorial starts and the environment sucks the life out of you, legitimately making the game less fun. Yes, the textures of the heavily-pixelated skyscrapers and ass-hair-fuzzy road textures actually sap whatever excitement there should be when kaiju are thrashing about. How does that happen? Well, the monsters themselves look decent (from a distance, of course), but who cares when the environment and its destruction resemble the absolute antithesis of any destructive thrill? Plus, the voice acting makes me wish that the story was presented via written text, because it genuinely feels like the actors were delivering their lines while laying down.
The animations only add salt to the wound. The attacks have no weight to them and there’s no payoff when you’re smacking down another kaiju or laying waste to buildings. Skyscrapers kind of just instantaneously combust with lacklustre explosions and it never feels like you’re harnessing any real sense of power or gravity with your hits. I feel like a kitten scratching at the base of a tree whenever I’m supposedly striking another kaiju. There’s no sense of impact and thus, no sense of enjoyment.
There are simply way too many egregious visual blunders to forgive here. I shouldn’t have to be squinting my eyes in disbelief with every “faux-splosion.” Godzilla looks like a cheap cash-grab that the publisher was forced to make out of necessity due to them already dumping some money into the project.
Unfortunately, there is no “true beauty lies underneath” fairy tale for the gameplay here. Godzilla controls just as well as you’d think from looking at the stills. For starters, why am I pressing R1 and L1 to turn the monsters left and right? If it added a sense of weight or immersion, I’d be all for it, but it becomes incredibly frustrating and it feels so damn sluggishly stiff. It’s not weighty, it’s not engrossing and it sure as hell is not fun.
The enemy kaiju look just as awkward. Many times they’ll stand lifelessly still as they wait for you to confront them. Then they unleash a series of animations that you’re way too damn slow and chunky-clunky to have any way of combating out of. It’s maddening. Alas, I kept playing in hopes that maybe some super cool moves would come along or some increase to agility would improve a rough a first half, but it was all for naught. From the first level to the last, the game’s trademark blundering blandness stays strongly intact.
God of Destruction mode is the main ‘campaign’ here, and I say ‘campaign’ because can it really be called that if your objective stays the same almost throughout? It’s not like it’s some exciting, innovative objective that can withstand the test of repetition. You’re literally destroying power generators over and over until a kaiju pops up here and there. Then there’s the King of Kaiju mode that’s structured like a traditional fighter’s (i.e., Tekken, Street Fighter) arcade mode. This is a little more bearable in that it’s kaiju vs. kaiju, but thanks to the game’s crap controls, you’re quickly reminded that you’re still playing absolute garbage.
Diorama mode and Evolution mode round out the game’s very un-seductive feature set. The former is a movie-scene-recreation mode that lets you unlock kaiju models and the latter is all about progressing your ability set with Godzilla. You’ll probably play each of these modes once to save yourself from the monotony of the God of Destruction mode, but it’s unfortunate that they lack substance and, more importantly, any fun.
Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, I should highlight the one positive: Whenever an enemy kaiju appears, it does strike a nostalgic nerve, one which kind of makes you semi-ignore their awkward intro. Then you resume control of Godzilla and it’s straight back to shit. So, yeah, the game is 99 percent bad. Well, 94 percent bad because three-player online multiplayer matches provide some serious hilarity. Unfortunately, though, there’s no couch competitive or co-op multiplayer to share some hearty laughs with a pal alongside you.
Of course, I’m fully aware that this game wasn’t given the budget or resources it deserved. For that, I am truly sorry that there was a whole team of living human beings at Natsume Atari that have unfortunately lost a year or two of their lives working on Godzilla. It’s a title that feels like it was rushed to coincide with the Gareth Edwards-directed film of 2014, except it’s a year late.
As a huge fan of the King of the Monsters, it’s hard not to be really bummed out with this release. Life-sucking visuals, eye-rolling voice acting and harshly stiff controls cement Godzilla as a strong contender for the absolute worst game of the year.
This review is based on the Playstation 4 version, which we were provided with.
Godzilla's biggest flaw -- thanks to its horrendous performance across the board -- is that it forgets to be fun or anything closely resembling that.