Godzilla is out today, and it is spectacularly bad. Don’t buy it. Below you’ll find a list of reasons you shouldn’t buy it, many of them in the form of 6/10 gags combined with dire warnings about your mental health and sense of self-worth should you persist. But if you can’t be bothered reading any further, know this: Godzilla is bad. Not Power Glove bad. Really bad.
Anyway, where to begin with this thing? It’s finally seeing a western release on both PS3 and PS4 (having launched late last year in Japan), and yet it still feels like a Dreamcast game — all empty space and buildings which look like solid blocks with windows painted on them. The HUD is bigger than Japan. Tutorial boxes and tooltips intrude, blaring out of the screen in true Dynasty Warriors fashion. Its screen furniture is noisier than the apocalypse the lizard himself is dishing out.
Your interactions with your surroundings are, in the beginning at least, painful to watch, not least because Godzilla is animated like a claymation puppet. The right stick controls the camera, which is not linked to Godzilla himself. Instead, L1 and R1 rotate him, like a helicopter in a GTA game, which inevitably leads to frustration as your brain attempts to use every button on the pad to turn and look behind. Colliding with buildings is akin to watching your drunk dad hit his knees on the coffee table as he staggers out to the kitchen for more Super, rueing the 82 World Cup and belching out that little bit of Stiltskin everyone knows. Godzilla doesn’t so much commit destruction as star in a super-sized version of DIY SOS.
Which is, it must be said, rather dispiriting, seeing as crashing into buildings forms a lot of your playtime in God of the Monsters mode. Having risen from the sea, your task is to stomp around Japan ruining people’s shit, smashing down generators, fighting the army, and defeating rival beasts. In theory, it sounds brilliant. But then all Godzilla games do. In reality each level sees you do the same thing: break four or so generators, have a bit of a scrap with another monster, walk off.
A semblance of choice has been added — at certain points users can pick their path through Japan from two branching options. These paths are by the game’s own admission essentially easy or hard difficulty options, and come with the added hilarity of the Japanese premier either being kinder or meaner to you. Which means at some points you’ll be smashing up a Ferris wheel while some weak-willed idiot proclaims that you’re a creature of this earth and should be protected. (Side note: if the Japanese PM is replaced each time a festering old dinosaur makes a decision, does that mean Godzilla is on for the House of Lords at some point?)
Godzilla also attempts to introduce some strategy to proceedings via a multiplier system. More and sustained destruction means more energy, which enables Godzilla to become stronger and wreak yet more havoc. The meter which governs it runs out quickly, pressurising players into constantly topping it up with yet more smashing. It should introduce risk and reward, but Godzilla is so deficient in its basic mechanics that it doesn’t necessarily make the game any more fun: the arenas you play in are too small to really encourage massive, widespread destruction that would require mega-Godzilla, and controlling the thing is like controlling a pissed cow.
The fights which happen in these arenas also aren’t up to much. Not that Godzilla is known for his martial arts prowess: if anything his fighting style is ‘Glasgow’. There’s a dashing headbutt, a bit of a slap, and a roundhouse tail swipe that’s reminiscent, in the loosest possible sense, of drunk Van Damme in Kickboxer. Once enough damage has been dealt special attacks are available: Circle fires out your heat ray of death, and R2 acts as a sort of smart bomb, dealing — yes — massive damage.
None of it matters. Yes, it’s amusing to heat-ray a battleship, or try and swipe fighter jets out of the air, but most of the time you’ll be in a slap-fight with Mothra or slowly knocking down buildings. There’s little strategy, which some will excuse as befitting a game about nuclear-evolved lizards and moths hitting each other — but it tires. You grow stronger as the mode progresses, but crucially never feel as powerful as you should, and the game’s poor graphics and terrible animations don’t help matters.
Godzilla has other gametypes — VS, online, and Kaiju mode (fight the other monsters one by one). The latter is the best the game has to offer: sometimes just two monsters duking it out without having to worry about generators or multipliers or the army can boast the level of spectacle you’d require by default. But it’s still infrequent, and the combat is still mind-rendingly clunky. I just couldn’t finish Godzilla. You shouldn’t even start.