Check out our video review:
I feel like there should be more Godzilla games. The franchise seems popular enough to warrant games and excluding the handheld spin-offs, the Godzilla fighting trilogy from Pipeworks Software are easily the most enjoyable ones I’ve played. Well at least two of them. I hear Super Godzilla for Super Nintendo is okay but I’ve never played it. Anyway, when I heard about a Godzilla game coming to PlayStation 4, I was immediately interested. It’s actually an updated version of a PS3 game originally released in Japan. Developed by Natsume and published by Bandai Namco Games, Godzilla was released for PlayStation 3 in Japan in December, 2014. It was released in North America and Europe in July, 2015. The PlayStation 4 version which includes additional content and a multiplayer mode was released in July, 2015 in Japan, Europe, and North America, and that’s the version I played for this review. If you were to look at reviews of Godzilla, you will find that it didn’t do very well. Some claim it’s one of the worst games for the system.
As far as I can tell, there’s no real plot in Godzilla. The kaiju fight each other and destroy cities and the humans try to stop them. There are multiple modes to play through and God of Destruction is the real meat of the single player. It contains three sub-modes. You can play as Godzilla, invade as another kaiju, or defend humanity from invading kaiju. When playing as Godzilla or Invading as another kaiju, the goal is to move from area to area and just make it to the end. To progress, you need to complete the objective in each area which is usually to destroy something. Sometimes you have to do it within a time limit. As you destroy things, you’ll absorb G-Energy which allows you to grow in size. The bigger you are, the stronger your attacks, the better your defense, and you’ll have an advantage over other kaiju. If you destroy things in succession, you increase your fury which multiplies how much G-Energy you absorb. Maintaining high Fury is very important if you want become massive. You want to grow as big as you can and making sure your fury level never resets is key. There are optional objectives to complete in each area which reward you with bonus G-Energy upon completion. In most of the areas, you’ll have to fend off other kaiju that appear and defeating them rewards you with their cells, units, or parts which can be used to evolve kaiju in the Evolution mode. In some of the later areas, you’ll get to engage the different Super X aircraft and Gotengo. The Defense sub-mode is a tad different than the other two. Instead of destroying everything, the objective is always to prevent another kaiju from destroying too much of the environment.
There are multiple routes you can take in God of Destruction and after completing an area, you can sometimes decide which area you want to travel to next and they all lead to the same place. Humans will interact with each other as you progress and comment on what’s going on and your route determines which leader is currently running the show. The different leaders determine how fast the disaster level rises. The disaster level determines how aggressive the humans are. The higher the level, the stronger the G-Force attacks, and the greater the Fury multiplier. Stationary guns, tanks, helicopters, and jets will all be gunning for the the kaiju so your opponent is not the only thing you need to worry about. The voice acting isn’t great and, honestly, the frequent chatter becomes annoying after a while. In each area, are multiple data entries you can collect. These are just filming locations. You find the area, press a button and can watch the action from a different angle as the data is collected.
Once you understand the mechanics, you’ll find that God of Destruction isn’t very difficult unless you try to rush through it. As long as you keep growing, you’ll be fine. Playing through this mode is how you unlock monsters. Most of them are unlocked by simply defeating them but some require you to do specific things. I think the biggest downside to this mode is the repetition. Whether you go on a rampage or defend, the gameplay never really changes. You lumber through areas, destroying everything in sight, and fight other kaiju. Yeah, that sounds great and it is fun, especially in the beginning, but the game never mixes things up. You’re essentially doing the same thing over and over with each monster. Despite the repetitive nature, there is an addictive quality to the destruction. Getting bigger makes destroying things easier and there’s just something cool about stomping through areas while everything around you is just exploding. The environments, themselves, don’t make the gameplay any more interesting. There are multiple locations, some are set during the day, others at night, and they’re all pretty small and kind of bland-looking. They are basically destructible sandboxes.
Godzilla includes a large roster of kaiju or monsters to play as and each one shares the same set of basic functions but they all have their own unique moves and attacks. The monsters do move slowly which may take some getting used to. And they can feel clunky. Each monster can move and rotate, they can perform normal attacks, strong attacks, and chain attacks together to perform combos. They can grab things and fire a beam/breath attack which does drain their temperature or breath gauge. The gauge does refill over time and when it’s full, you can perform an invincible dodge move that can inflict a good amount of damage to an opponent and get you out of tight spots. The monsters can roar which kind of acts like a block of sorts. Roaring can prevent attacks from knocking you down and it can also power up some moves. Knowing when to roar can be the key to winning tough battles. Unfortunately, the combat feels very limited due to the lack of moves. Each kaiju only has about a handful so the combat lacks depth. In God of Destruction, you can just mash the attack buttons and win. Calling Evolution a “mode” is deceiving. It’s really just an upgrade menu. It’s where you can use the parts acquired from defeated kaiju to upgrade them. You can upgrade Godzilla with new moves, more breath gauges, and decreased gauge recovery time which is cool. However, the upgrades for every kaiju other than Godzilla are only related to the breath gauge. It’s very disappointing. The Evolution mode is also where you can unlock figures for the Diorama mode.
I guess you could label Godzilla as a fighting game. If it is, it’s a very simple one. At least when playing the single player modes. The only time I was really challenged was when my kaiju wasn’t big enough in the God of Destruction mode. You can’t grab kaiju that are bigger than you and the bigger ones can easily land attacks in succession and knock you down frequently. One of my biggest annoyances is playing as a flying kaiju like Adult Battra and trying to attack a small one like Mothra in her larva form. It’s not always easy to land attacks and the fights can become tedious. For the most part, Godzilla is an easy game and perfect for those looking for a casual Godzilla experience.
In addition to the God of Destruction mode are two other gameplay modes – King of Kaiju and Versus which is just online multiplayer. King of Kaiju is a mode where you’re ranked based on how long it takes you to defeat six monsters. In Versus, you can play against one or two other players online. I actually did find some matches which I thought was surprising. They were choppy as hell and I got my ass kicked. The lack of a standard single player Versus mode is very disappointing. You can’t just set up a quick fight and there’s no way to customize a game of any kind in the single player modes. There’s no choosing opponents or area to fight in. There is a Diorama mode which probably won’t appeal to everyone. You choose a base, place figures, choose a camera angle, configure different visual options, and can take pictures. The figures need to be unlocked in the Evolution mode before they can be placed and while the mode is neat, it’s far from being the major selling point. I think you really have to be into the franchise to appreciate what this mode has to offer. The same goes for the Kaiju Guide. However, the guide is certainly one of the more interesting parts of the game. It’s full of detailed information on various kaiju in the franchise. It’s quite informative.
Godzilla isn’t the greatest looking game on the PS4 but it is a decent reflection of the source material. The colors are washed out and the environments look bland but the monsters look great and the visual effects compliment the action nicely. Explosions result in a ton of sparks flying through the air. Smoke fills the air as you turn buildings into rubble. The environments feel more like sandboxes than they do urban environments. There are some vehicles littered around that can be destroyed but there’s no traffic or people running and screaming for their lives resulting in what feels like desolate and lifeless areas. I just assume all of these areas were evacuated. The soundtrack is full of classic Godzilla tunes and the sound effects are excellent. The roars are loud, impacts are booming, and you’ll hear screams of agony as you destroy tanks and aircraft. I did notice the frame rate dip when there was a ton of explosions, smoke, and action on-screen but I didn’t notice any major bugs or issues.
Throughout this review, I’ve pointed out several issues with the game so you might be thinking that I didn’t enjoy it. That would be incorrect. Despite the game’s problems, I had a blast with this but I do think it could have been a lot better and the enjoyment didn’t start right away. I got this when it released and when I first played it, I think I stopped after about an hour. But I came back to it later, got hooked, and completed the God of Destruction mode to one hundred percent. Yes, the game could use more content and the existing elements could use some improvements and refinements but there’s just something about the gameplay that makes it so much fun. It’s clearly a game designed to appeal to fans of the franchise, it’s campy as hell, and it’s great if you just want to see giant monsters fight each other amid a ton of destruction and explosions. It’s repetitive, it’s not really a looker, and the gameplay could use some more depth. But there is a good amount of replay value, there’s plenty of classic kaiju to play as, and if you’re a fan of the franchise, there’s a lot here to enjoy and appreciate.
I think Godzilla is a perfect example of a game that appeals to a niche market. It doesn’t feel like a game that was designed to attract everyone or maybe that was unintentional. I feel like it’s targeting a specific audience. It’s a slow-paced game centered on giant-monsters destroying each other and the environments and those familiar with the Toho universe can get a lot more out of this than those not too familiar. I could see casual Godzilla fans giving up due to the game’s slow-pace and lack of depth. And I can understand how someone could get bored after about a half hour of playing. However, if it gets its hooks into you, you will see how charming of a game it actually is. There’s no denying that there are certainly better Godzilla games out there. But there’s none that I’ve played that capture the spirit of the films quite like this. It’s an interesting experience. It’s just a shame they couldn’t do more with the concept because as it stands, it could have been a lot better and more than just a basic reflection of the franchise. I would recommend it to those seriously interested but if you’re not, you may want to skip it unless you can find it for a decent price. Our buddy the GamerGuy made us aware that some sites have it listed for hundreds of dollars which came as a shock to me. I’m assuming it’s rare or somewhat rare now. Ultimately, Godzilla is an interesting game with several issues. It can be fun or boring depending on what you’re looking for. It’s not going to be for everyone.