And you thought Godzilla's Revenge was bad.
When I previewed Godzilla: Unleashed a few months ago, I was genuinely excited. Back when it was originally released, Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters Melee (DAMM) rocked my GameCube. It was a simplistic brawler, sure, but Pipeworks really did justice to Toho's rubber suit franchise, and the game channeled that old Neo Geo classic, King of the Monsters. Then Godzilla: Save the Earth came out for the PS2, and while it was basically the same game with a bigger character roster, it added bland “missions" to the fights. For awhile there, it looked like Unleashed, a former Wii exclusive (now also on the PS2), would combine the fighting with some purposeful environmental destruction. But most importantly, players would punch and kick their way to victory using motion controls. I just played the game for several hours, and although it hurts me to say this, Godzilla: Unleashed sucks!
I almost suspect that Atari sent me a beta copy, because I just can't believe that the final game is this unpolished. Unfortunately, it's not a beta copy. Right off the bat, you'll notice that the graphics are far worse than DAMM. I'm not sure how this is possible, but the clean, sharp models of that GC original are now fuzzy, poorly textured, and don't animate smoothly. The environments look worlds worse than the monsters, though. I don't know about you, but I thought that the word “blocky" went out with the N64. Buildings don't crumble—they sink into the ground. The water effects look great—until you set foot in the water. Godzilla weighs between 20 and 60,000 tons (depending on which series you're watching), but he doesn't splash. You heard that right—there are some pixilated water drops, but no splash. Some of the monster energy weapons look pretty swanky, but the manner in which they're activated is so horrifying (I'll get to that in a minute) that you'll never use them. The game's cutscenes are told through poorly-drawn slides. This wouldn't bug me on the DS, but it's unacceptable on the Wii.
I don't think the motion controls could've been any worse. In DAMM, the various punches and kicks were activated by pressing A or B and a direction on the stick, as in Smash Bros. Not here. In Unleashed, you start swinging the Remote in a certain direction, then press and hold A (or B) halfway through and pray that the game registers your movement. More often than not, your beastie will just stand there. Sometimes, he'll do a regular punch instead of a motion-activated punch. Once in a very great while, Godzilla will do the uppercut you asked him to do. And it doesn't stop there. You're forced to deal with motion controls for throwing, jumping, flying, charging, and special attacks. And because the sensitivity is so awful, your monster will get his ass handed to him while you're busy swinging your arms like a freaking orangutan.
The HUD is confusing. You must manually charge your beam weapon, and then weep as you notice that stuff other than beam attacks requires beam energy. And when you try to use the beam weapon itself, half the time it won't work. The other half, it will work, but you have to twist and angle the Wii Remote to aim it, rather than use the Control Stick. There are big crystals around each cityscape, and they have different effects on the gameplay. Destroying bright blue crystals gives you some HP, while yellow ones give you beam energy. Destroying enough giant crystals will put you into "Critical Mass," in which your defense goes down, but your offense goes up! Critical Mass also "costs" one HP tank, and the military will begin attacking you. What fun! Finally, depending on your actions during a given level, you will gain or lose face with the different monster "factions", which doesn't have any consequence whatsoever as far as I can tell.
I've failed to mention the awful heavy metal music that pollutes the menu screens and monsters battles. I've never understood why, even though the series has Toho's blessing, the main Godzilla theme is never used in any of the recent Godzilla brawlers. All of the monsters have their trademark roars intact, but their SKREEEONKS and CHEE-CHEE-CHEES seem really quiet compared to the thumps of battle and ambient music. I gotta say, though, it was a kick to hear MOGUERA for the first time since Godzilla vs. Spacegodzilla.
The game has two selling points. Although poorly rendered, virtually all of the Godzilla series monsters are here, and their trademark roars have been kept intact. And when I say all of them, I mean it. Biollante and Varan are in this game! Unfortunately, they must all be purchased with points that you earn by completing missions in the Story mode, which is a painful experience. This is also how you unlock concept art and movies. Ideally, a player would go through the Story mode with each monster, but since fights just aren't winnable thanks to the hideous motion controls, you might never beat Story mode the first time!
Ultimately, Godzilla: Unleashed is just awful. Even the biggest Godzilla fans among us should not have to suffer through this piece of trash. Watch the movies or just play DAMM. You'll have a much better time.