War of the Monsters
Game Info
Platform(s)
Playstation 2
Publisher
SCEA
Developer
Incog Inc.
Genre
Melee/Fighter
Official Website
ESRB Rating
Violence
 
Grade
The Good

• Lots to unlock
• Captures B-movie feel well
• Simple, easy to get into gameplay

The Bad

• Lots of button mashing
• Cheap impaling attacks
• Only two players at any time

 
Grade
B

War of the Monsters, at its heart, is a full blown melee fighter where the players take the role of one of many mutated beasts destroying their way from location to location. The game begins with a story sequence that explains the reason behind the game. In true B-movie fashion, players are informed of an alien invasion of the Earth. To defeat these aliens, Earth's scientists set up these electric machines, which knock the UFOs from the skies. Unfortunately, radiation from the UFOs cause all sorts of mutations.

The single player game is broken up into Adventure, Free-For-All and Endurance. The Adventure mode gives players one monster to take through a series of locations, much like a standard fighter, except that each location tends to have a different twist to it, like multiple enemies or interference from the military. While the standard levels require just beating your enemy to a pulp, the boss fights do require pattern recognition and some skill with the game's techniques. The Free-for-all allows you to have up to four monsters in one location, beating on each other until someone wins, by either surviving or just getting enough kills. Endurance mode just throws more enemies at you in the same stage until you drop.

While the player has ten characters to choose from, you'll find most of them have the same types of abilities and only vary in speed, ability to fly and a few differences in the appearance of attack. Everyone has a quick attack, which doubles as a light distance attack, and a heavy attack. The only real combos involve tapping the certain attack button multiple times for a string of attacks. Players can jump and even have an action button to climb buildings and pick up debris and cars to beat on enemies with. Pressing two buttons at a time will execute one of two special energy attacks. Littered all around the stages are power-ups for health, energy and even power-ups to turn invisible. You also have the ability to block attacks and even grapple an enemy to throw them into buildings. The battle system may not be overly deep in combos and options, but it is quick and easy to get into without much practice.

Whenever you finish a stage, you will be rewarded with points, which can be used to unlock new arenas, costumes, mini-games and even new combatants. The unlockables go a long way towards bringing most players back to the single player game.

The character designs, while technically original, are a great throwback to all of the B-movies that the game shows strong influence from. You have Togera, the Godzilla-type monster, Congar, who is obviously King Kong, Preytor, the immense Preying Mantis and a handful of other beasts and large robots, including the heavily Japanese Ultra-V. The levels themselves are the real standout of the game. While not super-detailed, the real strength of the levels are that they are totally destructible. You can smash into them, knocking off building fronts and even knock the buildings themselves down. And, during the melee, you'll see swarms of fleeing vehicles and civilians running in terror from the action. In fact, early on, you may be surprised at how destructible the levels are. During a full-blown melee, you may knock a good portion of the levels down to the barren earth, leaving girders and debris to your disposal as a weapon.

Audio-wise, War of the Monsters captures the concept exceptionally well. The sweeping and powerful soundtrack feels like a more modern version of the old B-movie themes and the sound effects have a great feel to them. Some of the sound effects even feel like they've pulled straight from the source material.

While War of the Monsters does a number of things well, there are a handful of things that just hold the title back. The in-game camera seems to have a hard time giving the player the best view of the battle. A lot of times, the environment will become transparent when the camera gets behind it, but this is not always the case, which can leave you open for attack. On top of that, the responsiveness of just about any action seems to be delayed just enough to make the gameplay frustrating at times. If you throw a series of attacks and an enemy moves out of the way, it takes some effort to stop the attack animation and get turned around. And, blocking attacks and grappling enemies is never assured unless you time things just right.

To make things worse, War of the Monsters has probably some of the cheapest enemy A.I. I've seen in some time. If you want to see how to beat the game, just watch the computer as you beat an enemy to a pulp, only to have him manage to run away, find enough health-ups to bring him back into the green and then return to beat on you. And if you're facing more than one enemy... well, good luck. This could be remedied by playing against other players, but since the game only supports two players, you're left with adding AI controlled beasts to make the most of the multiplayer stages.

War of the Monsters tends to be an exercise in serious button mashing. If you're being grappled or impaled by a piece of debris, you'll need to mash the buttons way too much just to get free. In fact, being impaled is just asking for everyone else in the stage to get a free shot on you. I really wish that the battle system could have been at least a little deeper so that players wouldn't have to rely on mashing the buttons to just get through a fight.

If you're looking for a melee title to play, you should check this one out. While it could use some depth in the battle system and some extra polish, this game should be fun for a good while. With some decent unlockables, the single player mode should keep you busy for some time. If the game had featured more than two players at any given time or even system link or online play, I think War of the Monsters would have been more of a fun multiplayer title.

- - Vane

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