|System: Wii, PSP, DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Pipeworks||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Atari||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Q4 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|Rating: Pending||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Jwan Jordan
August 1, 2007 - The Godzilla franchise has attacked the world in every memorabilia-like form there is. Toys, puzzles, action figures, and even video games have dawned with the likeness of Godzilla. Started in the 1950s, Godzilla quickly grew in giant monster fame and, like a virus developed by Resident Evil's Umbrella Corporation, even us Westerners overseas became infected. With Godzilla being the popular power house that he is, his likeness in video games has been plentiful but not always filling. The Nintendo Wii is aiming to change things with use of its new Wii system and innovative Wii-mote and Nunchuk.
The story begins with strange alien crystals growing from the earth's surface. As the crystals grow, they begin to tear apart cities and buildings and reconstruct the environment in bizarre ways. As if that isn't bad enough, the giant crystals also strangely attract all the monsters of the universe to its locations. If two monsters meet at the same location, a battle of massively destructive proportions begins. Of course, we puny humans are not just going to sit by and let the monsters run things, so the Earth Defenders comes in with tanks-a-blazing. As the story unfolds, you'll see how the Earth Defenders, monsters, mechas, and aliens all play a part in the non-linear storyline.
What I've noticed from the trailers is that if you've played any of the previous Godzilla games, not much has changed aside from maybe one or two extra layers of texture mapping. Regardless, the graphics have always looked good, but so far don't seem to be anything that hasn't been done on the GameCube or PlayStation versions. If you have played the previous versions, then you know the basics of gameplay. You play as one of the 16 monsters: Godzilla 2000, Megalon, Gigan, and Kiryu, to name a few. Not all characters were revealed yet, but Pipeworks said there will be both flying and burrowing monsters from the Toho pantheon and even some new Toho approved beast to control. I can't imagine how much more bizarre Godzilla enemies can get, but then again, I have sat through an episode of the Power Rangers.
The single player mission is said to be a non-linear experience. By that, I mean the story follows a specific arch but depending on who you play as determines what allies or enemies you will make as the story progresses.
As I said, the large alien crystals are attracting all the monsters to their locations, and Pipeworks gave some insight as to why. The enigmatic crystals give the monsters unimaginable new powers, which make them stronger, faster, and a host of other new abilities. As you battle in-game, you can interact with the crystals at will; this adds some very interesting mechanics to the gameplay. For instance, if you sustain too much damage during a fight you can run over to a crystal and begin healing yourself. Of course, interacting with the crystals has consequences. As you absorb crystal energy you increase your "critical mass" meter, which turns you into an aggressively mad power house. Godzilla, after hitting critical mass, had his flesh melted off and red energy coursed through his glowing veins. Critical mass is similar to "Rage" in the previous installments, but critical mass makes you stronger, faster, and also weakens defense while making you tired.
Pipeworks claims that the real fun comes from the "Power Surge" you get from completely giving into the crystal's power. Power Surges are one-time abilities that you get in the single player campaign and they offer a wide array of special abilities such as immunity to weapons, regeneration, and extra health. Power Surges are designed to replace the Rage mechanic from previous installments and can make a fight with multiple foes a lot easier. There are also allies or enemies who can become infected by the crystals and go mad with power. If you destroy all the crystals, then they will either be freed from their madness and join you as an ally or you can destroy them and take their power. So you can take all the power for yourself and have no friends, or save others and make a lot of allies. Naturally, the more powerful you get, the more enemies you will make, which gives you a strategy to work with. If several monsters are fighting on the battlefield and one becomes too powerful, you can join together against the strongest threat. Pipeworks is hoping to give players lots of creative options and replay ability with the new features.
With Godzilla being on the Wii most of the fun will likely come from tossing your arms around using the Wii-mote and Nunchuk. You punch and kick by pressing the A or B button on the Wii-mote and you can jump by pressing the Z button on the Nunchuk. In order to jump you must hold down the Z button and raise the controller up. Moving both the Wii-mote and Nunchuk upward will pick up small buildings, and a throwing gesture will do just that. It wouldn't be Godzilla if you couldn't do his trademarked fire breath attack and by pressing the C button you can charge and fire away!
With the addition of the strange crystals that play a big part in the game and the non-linear story path, it looks like Godzilla: Unleashed may last longer than an hour's worth of fun like its predecessor. Add in the destructible cities, the barrage of bullets from the Earth Defenders and multiple monsters with shifting alliances and things are looking pretty good. It is still early in development, but keep reading for updates.
CCC Freelance Writer