Godzilla is the undisputed king of cinema monsters and should always be treated as such. Yet the giant fire breathing lizard has never been lucky in the world of video games. Bandai Namco’s Godzilla game on the PlayStation 4 has a lot of heart for fans of kaiju cinema, but a multitude of technical issues and missteps prevent it from being the definitive Godzilla game fans have always wanted. Unlike past titles that feature Godzilla and his various monster foes, this game takes a more traditional approach by drawing inspiration from the various Toho Godzilla films of the past.
The controls are what make this game a huge dud of a game. You take control of Godzilla, or one of the many kaiju monsters included, and move around a map destroying buildings and fighting other monsters. The left analog stick controls your slow titanic movement, but turning is mapped to the top shoulder buttons. The tank-like controls are manageable in some parts of the game, but are incredibly frustrating to work with when you need to make a quick turn or react to something happening on screen. Godzilla’s monsters all move at a slow pace to give a sense of large scale, but it sometimes feels way too sluggish and limiting.
There are only a few game modes that are incredibly repetitive and monotonous rather than fun. God of Destruction mode is a campaign that has a very weak story that focuses on Godzilla invading Japan to destroy various generators that are harvesting G-Energy. As you destroy the generators and small buildings on each map, Godzilla will grow stronger and get bigger. Any sort of indication of Godzilla’s strength is confusing however, as the only clear and noticeable difference of his strength is a small counter that shows his size.
The campaign is broken into 25 stages that have branching paths to different scenarios. You only play straight through less than ten of the stages and must obtain hidden Data Points scattered on each map to obtain the real final stage and ending of the game. This offers a lot of replayability, but it isn’t very fun to repeat all of the stages multiple times.
Most of the sessions in any mode end up with one of two things that are drawn out and boring. A game will either become a slow moving drag from one part of the map to another, or a hysterical button masher as you fight against other kaiju monsters in battles that are broken and possibly nonfunctional. Computer controlled kaiju monsters have attacks that can’t be interrupted and which can lock your character in a long stun animation. This makes the experience of fighting another monster as Godzilla less epic and more infuriating.
Besides God of Destruction, there is an Arcade-like mode called King of Kaiju where you face a series of seven battles against other monsters. This suffers from the same problems the rest of the game, but only has you fighting another monster to the death before moving on. As you play, you can obtain parts from other monsters to upgrade your attacks or unlock other playable monsters. This however ends up being a slow drag and completely useless by the time you finish the campaign a few times.
Not only is gathering monster parts a very slow process, but a tedious one where you must ration materials wisely in order to upgrade Godzilla and/or any other monster. These upgrades can be used in other modes but can only be used at the start of a new campaign, not one already in progress.
Godzilla is not very fun to play online. The game has an online multiplayer mode, but no local multiplayer for those that want to play with a friend. Online matches aren’t hard to find, but are plagued with terrible lag and technical issues that almost make the experience unplayable. The matchmaking is terrible, mainly because you are never paired with other players of similar skill ranking online. Matches are either 1 v 1 or Triple threat style matches that usually end up being slow lag filled button mashers.
The only redeeming quality of is a small kaiju guide included in the game’s extras. You can unlock various profiles of every Toho kaiju monster and read about the story and history of each of the movies. This is great for newcomers who have never explored the Godzilla movies in detail, but hardcore fans will only appreciate this so much. The rest of the game is filled with nothing more than terrible design choices and drawn out gameplay. While the heart from the original Toho films is here in many ways, this isn’t the Godzilla game that fans deserve.
You would be much better off spending less money on a DVD pack of Godzilla movies rather than purchasing this game. The king of movie monsters certainly deserves a lot better than this.
This review is based on a digital review copy of Godzilla for PlayStation 4 provided by Bandai Namco.