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PS2 Review - 'War of the Monsters'

by Hank on July 10, 2004 @ 1:32 a.m. PDT

Control a host of the biggest, meanest monsters ever to feature in a game including a gigantic angry gorilla, a monstrous insect and armoured robots as big as skyscrapers. Fight in knuckle-wrenching multi-monster battles in fully destructible 3D environments bustling with traffic, people and military defences.

Genre: Action
Publisher: Sony
Developer: Incognito Studios
Release Date: January 14, 2004

Buy 'WAR OF THE MONSTERS': PlayStation 2

For me, games are my life, and I will probably never forget the first few games that got me addicted. Some people would probably say the Atari or NES were the first systems, but in my mind, the strongest and most memorable titles that really pulled me into video games were Capcom’s Street Fighter and the Godzilla game where you could play with up to three players, destroying the city and reducing it to ashes while wreaking havoc. Sadly, there has been no new PS2 “remake” of this awesome game, so Sony decided to create its own version, called War of Monsters.

However, one thing that differs between the two is that Sony’s War of Monsters is a fighting game, while Godzilla was more of a co-op. Those types of games are quite rare, even to this day. So which is better? It’s quite hard to say, considering they are in different genres, but each has its own strong points.

One thing that War of Monsters has in its favor is the implementation of new special effects taken directly from modern movies. One such example is the ability to grab helicopters right out of the air, something we have seen in movies such as King Kong and other “Monsters” of our era. War of Monsters takes all of the great monsters we’ve seen in movies and places them into this game, including a praying mantis (Preytor), a large gorilla (Congar), an alien (Kineticlops), and many more. All of them are placed into this game with one thing in mind: destroy the opposition while terrorizing or protecting the citizens.

The story begins with a small intro showing experiments going awry, creating monsters like Preytor, and an alien invasion occurring at the same time. To protect the citizens, they have created robot monsters to fight alongside their army consisting of tanks and helicopters. As a fair warning, the army is incredibly annoying. I can completely understand why King Kong was angry when they were firing at him; they may not be as strong as the monsters, but they sure do some damage. Thankfully, they have an inconsequential amount of life, and they can be destroyed in one hit, allowing the player to concentrate more on the enemy monster(s).

Unfortunately, the developers of this game did not want to give the player any breaks, and they made the game extremely difficult. This is especially apparent when you are facing multiple monsters – they use cheap tag-team tactics. For example, if one of them is low on life, it will run around looking for more while the other keeps beating on you. This pattern made me want the victory more than ever. These battles are not necessarily the hardest battles, though, because the boss battles are at least as difficult. The boss battles are never straightforward, and you (as the player) need to figure out what to do. This is good in a sense, because when you pick a random fight against another person, you don’t always know their weaknesses, but at the same time, it is an arduous task to figure out how to attack. After a few deaths, I eventually figured out how to defeat the first boss. Why do the developers always have to give the bosses more life? I really wish I had that much life.

While playing War of Monsters, it is very important to keep an eye on your HUD, checking your life, special attack status, and stamina. A monster without stamina is as useless as a car without wheels (you can’t get anywhere in that state). So why is this important for War of Monsters? Well, like Fight Night 2004, stamina is necessary in order to fight. Once it is depleted, it takes a while to regenerate. This is where the orbs on the map come into play. Since it is quite easy to lose life and stamina, the arena is filled with special items and several orbs of green and blue colors. The green orb replenishes life while the blue gives stamina, allowing you to continue the fight. The special items on the board may give you temporary invincibility, an extra bar of stamina, or various other boosts. With these advantages, battles are slightly easier, but at the same time, it’s never a cinch (other than in the first few battles).

Even though it is fun to beat the living daylights out of the enemy monster, I personally find it more enjoyable to destroy the town and its surroundings, especially when you can pick up the debris and use it as a weapon. Not only are the buildings potential weapons, but so are the cars that drive around the arena. You can club your enemies with these items, or you can just use objects as long-range attacks and watch the cars explode on your enemy.

These attacks will not be enough to defeat your opponents. In order to defeat them, you must diversify your skills and abilities by using the surroundings, picking up items, and pulling off combo attacks. For combo attacks, you basically just mash the button. You have Triangle for a heavy attack, Square for a light attack, Circle for basic action and grab, X to jump, L1 to strafe left, R1 to strafe right, L1 and R1 together to lock onto the nearest target, Select to taunt, R2 to block, L2 to freely adjust the camera angle, and Triangle + Circle for the long-range special attack or Square + X for a close-range special attack. Learn these buttons well and you’ll have a better chance of beating the opposing monsters. As for me, I still suck at this game and find it rather hard even on easy mode.

The difficulty of the game is extremely high. Like I said before, I find it challenging on easy mode. There are three different difficulty levels: easy, medium, and hard. Since I am having a hard time on easy, I don’t even want to think about how hard it would be on the highest setting. The difficulty isn’t the only option you can change – you can also play this game against a friend, or if you want to play this by yourself, you can play through Adventure, Free-For-All, or Endurance modes. All have their own perks, but I believe the only way to unlock items is by getting tokens from Adventure mode and buying new monsters, costumes, and mini-games for two-player battles. If you have played the demo, you will remember the gritty combat portion and how laggy it was back then, but with the release of the game, they have completely fixed it up. There is almost no lag compared to before, and it runs a lot smoother. In other words, if you can’t handle the fast pace, you may get motion sickness (like me) due to the fact that the camera angle just moves too fast. This is especially likely to occur when you do an instant lock-on, particularly when you are facing the other way.

It just zooms across the background so fast that my eyes and mind get a little disoriented. This has nothing to do with the detail of it, because in actuality, the background isn’t all that detailed, but I don’t think they could have done any better. The screen is filled with so many items that if it were any more elaborate, it would probably lag the PS2. What really makes the background stand out from other games is the vast number of buildings, tiny little ants (humans), and moving cars, as well as the interaction with the buildings (climbing or destroying them) and the army of helicopters or tanks that always seem to get in your way. With all of these elements, it really seems like a world you can relate to, wreaking havoc at every corner.

When a building falls, I’m sure you don’t want to be hearing the humming of a bee. No, you want to hear the debris hitting the ground and the sound of the building ready to collapse. In this game, it does just that: it puts the correct sounds where they are necessary, focusing more on the destruction and battle rather than on any other sound. For example, when in battle, you will hear your attacks, the clash of a monster hitting a building, and the monsters’ screams. At a slightly lower volume in the background, you will hear music reminiscent of these Monster type movies, the kind of sound that makes it seem like it may be the end of the world.

Overall, this game is pretty fun to play, but it requires a lot of skill. If this game were to have some sort of co-op mode of play or four-player multiplayer mode, it would have been great, since it’s more fun with more players. I suggest giving this game a try, and if you are basing your thoughts on the demo, I strongly suggest trying the released game. The game-play is really different with the removal of the lag. I can’t really say if you should get it or not, but go and rent it and find out for yourself.

Score : 8.0/10

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