War of the Monsters
Bad boy King Kong, Godzilla and his squad, … all of them major movie stars in good old B-movies. Huge monsters smashing up an entire metropolis, you just gotta love the sight of that. Or perhaps it’s even more enjoyable if you could cause such havoc yourself, right ? The recent PS2 game War of the Monsters is one of those “B-games” and your humble servant was gladly obliged to check out this baby.
War of the Monsters takes place on a fictive Earth. The world is suddenly being terrorised by an invasion of evil alien forces (wandering around in those typical flying saucers), but mankind gathers its strength in order to defeat those nasty invaders. Eventually, a new super weapon wipes out the alien fleet, but a strange radioactive substance seems to flow out of the crashed UFO’s. Very quickly, some animals start growing bigger and bigger …
A rather simple, but irrellevant story if you ask me. The single player part of the game offers 3 modes: adventure, free-for-all and endurance. The last 2 modes are obvious, but “adventure” isn’t really such an appropriate name for the other mode. You just play through a fixed selection of levels and once in a while you have to take care of some evil boss. In each level you deal with one or two “big” monsters, or a lot of “small” ones. Nothing much happens, but all in all, this mode remains the most entertaining one.
At the end of each level, or after some endurance, you earn points which let you unlock new levels, minigames, a new character and skins later on. Those skins arre really sweet when you want your monster to look more “flashy”.
But let’s take a closer look on the actual fighting. You get to visit cool places like the heart of a big city, airport, nuclear power plant and even the inside of a UFO. At first sight most locations seem very extensive, but they are all sealed off by force fields. They really aren’t that big, which is a real shame.
Fortunately the level design (or should I say “arena design”) is just marvelous. All of the buildings can come down and may even crush you or your opponent in the process. Your monster can also pick up and throw a large amount of objects, from poles to cars, trains, …
Each of the 10 characters (a monkey, a bug, some “living pile of stone”, robots, …) has it’s own beating and kicking abilities and even some special moves. Nevertheless, the amount of different moves or combos is rather small. A monster can also fire laser beams, elektricity, rocks, … at his nemesis. However, this isn’t always a smart move, ’cause it’ll knock your energy bar down. Once depleted, you need to retreive power-ups or just wait till it has automatically recharged. In the meantime you can’t attack anymore. Something that causes serious damage to your energy bar as well, is flying, an ability that only some of the characters have. The other monsters need to count on their climbing and jumping skills to reach higher places.
The graphics of this PS2 game are excellent. The arenas, characters, effects, … everything looks pretty detailed. You can even spot tiny people running their ass off on the streets. Combined with the frightening musical theme, this makes War of the Monsters a true B-game.
Too bad though the camera seems to lack discipline. It just follows your character around, without ever trying to turn immediately into the direction he’s facing. Fortunately, you can lock on to an enemy, but with several monsters around, the camera can be a real pain in the ass.
Finally, let me just cover the coolest feature of the game: the multiplayer ! You can either compete in unlocked minigames, or just combat each other in simple free-for-all, maybe even joined by some CPU’s. Since one can quickly master the easy controls, this game is excellent to play with some friends for a while … but still not too long. Too bad the game doesn’t offer 4 player mode, so you can only play with 2 people at the same time.
In conclusion: War of the Monsters is a pretty decent action title, offering very interactive 3D arenas, which suit perfectly for some quick brainless fun. Unfortunately the single player mode is rather short, but as it is, you will certainly play it through a couple of times with different characters, in order to gain as much points as needed to unlock some cool stuff. Although it has little variety to offer, the multiplayer mode is fun to play with some friends. Most action fans will probably enjoy this fresh beat ‘em up-alike game … along with those who have been holding their pets on steroids till now.