Nothing quite gets me going like a great kaiju movie.
Monsters and robots the size of skyscrapers battling to the death and causing irreparable destruction on a massive scale going with a big bucket of buttered popcorn and an oversized soda is a satisfying way for me to tune out for two hours. To no real surprise, I was incredibly excited to hear that one of the grand daddies of the genre, Godzilla, would be receiving a brand new video game in 2015. I wanted to get my hands on it and I wanted to shred through a city like a terrible disaster.
I finally got my wish to see this brand new monster game, simply titled Godzilla, at a press event held by Bandai Namco last week in San Francisco. Sadly, I wasn’t able to go hands-on with the title as only a debug build was at the event to preview in a hands-off environment. However, I did get to see plenty of monster mashing madness and was able to get a better impression of what’s in store for Godzilla in 2015.
Developed by Natsume Atari, Godzilla puts players behind the wheel of the titular creature to wreak havoc across different cities and environments to collect G-Energy. G-Energy is a resource that humanity has been using that has awoken Godzilla, causing him to come ashore to consume it and become more powerful. By moving across the environment and destroying G-Energy containers you will grow in size and strength, while also attracting other kaiju that you will need to fight for the precious resource.
The concept is rather straight forward, taking inspiration from classic beat ‘em up destruction games as its basis to build upon. In many ways, its a love letter to the classic Godzilla films. “The dev team has tried as much as possible to create the feel of those classic monster movies but bring it into a modern and next-gen gameplay feel,” said Brandon Williams, Producer at Bandai Namco Games, to me during the event. Those words ring very true when witnessing the game in motion, as Godzilla tries to stay true to the B-movie appearance of monsters like King Ghidorah and Mothra while mimicking all the sound effects and explosions of the old films.
The adherence to the source material seems to be a real treat for long-time fans, but it also has me slightly concerned. Mainly, the game’s camera seems a bit wonky and I felt the developers previewing it appeared to be fighting against it to do the things they wanted. The camera snaps out from behind Godzilla during fights to frame both monsters on the screen at the same time like camera shots from the movies. While this looks nice, I’m not sure if it will control well considering your monster is still moving in three dimensional space.
Battles are intentionally a bit on the cumbersome side, trying to create the slow and plodding action of the films. Godzilla plods along slowly and can land devastating attacks like a ramming headbutt, a powerful tail whip or even charge up his iconic atomic breath. You need to be calculating with these attacks, picking your opportunities as you can’t button mash your way into a combo like in a traditional fighting game like Mortal Kombat.
Foes seem plenty varied too, with 15 monsters confirmed for PS3 and more coming to the PS4 version of the game. King Ghidorah can float above Godzilla briefly and spray flames in roughly a 70 degree cone with his three heads. Jet Jaguar on the other hand can do backflips, throw punches and even land drop kicks that remind me of a skyscraper sized Power Ranger. It appears that there will enough difference between each kaiju that each will handle just a little different, making the online multiplayer the game packs all the more enticing.
Whether this variety will keep players engrossed for several hours is a different question altogether. With 20 different stages ranging from coastal power plants to what appeared to be the Eiffel Tower in France, the straight forward approach of collecting a resource with occasional monster battles sprinkled in may not provide enough variety to keep players engaged.
Human weapons like tanks and helicopters pelt Godzilla with bullets, but appear to be no more than a nuisance than fruit flies. Williams did tell me that humanity will occasionally throw super weapons of some variety against you during the campaign that pose a threat, though he did not get more specific. This is something that seeing other game modes could dispel as Godzilla gets closer to launch.
Godzilla seems to be coming along as a solid beat ‘em up with a few question marks that make me hesitant to crown it a must have for the coming year. It’s reverence for its source material and its focus on all-out attack and destruction should make it a game for diehard fans to keep an eye on as it nears release this summer on PS3 and PS4.