Review by Katon
"A very nice homage to the movie monsters of the past."
I used to love watching the old monster movies as I was growing up. I thought King Kong, Godzilla, et al., were great although, even at a young age, I could tell the movies were incredibly cheesy, even considering their age. I have always wanted a video game to replicate the destructive chaos seen in those movies, but one was never to be found. The occasional Godzilla game was released, and the Rampage games used to be nice for some mayhem, but nothing really captured the feel of those ancient films. Recently, two games were released which have attempted to capitalize on old monster movies: Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters Melee and War of the Monsters. Although Godzilla has the true licensed monsters, I feel Sony's release is the superior of the two: a fun, action-packed game which is a must-buy for PS2 owners.
The graphics in this game are great! The monster designs, even the ones which are obviously ripped off from real movie monsters, are tremendous and very detailed. The opening FMV is ingenious, presenting the cinema as if it was a 1940s-50s era movie newsreel. The main menu is designed like the screen at a drive-in movie, and the options screen looks like the popcorn stand. All great touches. Incog even designed several movie posters for the game, which are present on loading screens. Overall, the developers did a wonderful job of presentation here, making the entire experience feel like a night out at the movies. The levels are nicely detailed, and animation is very smooth, with no discernible slowdown. The graphics are not the best in the business, but they more than get the job done in this game.
Incog also did a great job with the sound. The screams of the humans you crush in the wake of your battle are great, and explosions and all the resulting carnage sound just like you would expect them to. The music is passable, nothing really outstanding, but to be honest, you're probably not playing this game for the music anyway.
War of the Monsters is a unique game among ones released on next-gen consoles; it is actually challenging. Some have complained about the AI being cheap. I'll have to agree that it can be, but it is nowhere near as bad as some would have you believe. Computer-controlled monsters get in some cheap shots, but I would call the AI ''tough,'' not ''cheap.'' There are three difficulty levels, so you can adjust the AI to your liking. The controls are very simple; one button dedicated to each of the following: weak attack, hard attack, grab, block, and jump. It takes all of ten seconds to grasp the control scheme. One flaw is that Incog decided to have the lock-on function activated by pressing both L1 and R1 simultaneously. This is inconvenient and unnecessary, but not earth-shattering. Like the rest of the controls, you'll soon get used to it. Controls are smooth and responsive, and using combos is very easy. As you progress in adventure mode, you will have different challenges to tackle, including boss fights and handicap levels where you are outnumbered. Additonally, there are bonuses to unlock, mainly consisting of new skins for your monsters, but there are some monsters, arenas, and minigames to unlock. Replayability here is high because of the unlockables and the off-the-charts fun factor. Versus mode is sort of bare, but it is still a blast to play. Some more options there might have helped. Add in other modes like endurance mode, and you have a well-rounded package guaranteed to satisfy most gamers.
The story here is not great, but I don't think it was intended to be. The story is clearly a spoof of the old monster flicks, and it is a fine one at that. What happens? Aliens attempt to invade Earth, but are defeated by the humans. In the process, some material from their flying saucers (of course!) leaks out and mutates various animals and other objects into monsters. Sure, it's insanely dumb, but it's supposed to be. The story goes right along with the feel of the rest of the game and deserves high marks.
War of the Monsters is a fine game and should not be missed by any PS2 owner. Once you accept that this game's enemies are not going to lay down and let you beat them, you will begin to have fun. This one is simple to pick up and play, and with plenty of unlock, you'll be doing so for quite some time. I heartily recommend a purchase over a rental, but if you are completely unsure of this game, head to Blockbuster and try it out. You'll be glad you did.
Overall score (not an average): 9/10
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 01/21/03, Updated 01/21/03
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