Sometimes playing games is a painful job, and more often than not these days that pain comes from the Wii and the near constant barrage of sub-par third-party efforts. The latest is Atari's Godzilla Unleashed, a game so devoid of fun it even makes the concept of giant monsters fighting in cities something I never want to see again - and I love giant monsters.
The game is split into a four-player brawler and a single-player story mode. Story mode sees you travelling across the world (and into alien space ships), fighting invading monsters. The same bunch of locations are used over and over, and the objectives are reused just as often. You'll either have to take out a load of power crystals, defeat a certain enemy, defeat all enemies or sit back and watch as the other monsters and allies do all the work for you. Yes, it's perfectly possible for the AI to get into fights while you run circles around them, picking them off when their health is near zero.
For a fighting game the combat system is key, so a shambles of button presses and Wii Remote swings doesn't make for a good game. Basic moves are activated by pressing A or B on the Wii Remote, but you can also swing the Wii Remote in one of four directions followed by A or B to perform numerous other attacks. Holding down both buttons and swinging the Wii Remote allows you to perform fierce attacks, such as tail spins and tail uppercuts. You can also grab and throw objects and monsters, activate a projectile attack and perform a power surge move that hurts all monsters in the vicinity.
This might sound like a fairly complex and robust fighting system, but in practice it's a mess of Wii Remote swipes, cumbersome movement, slow reactions and awkward enemy targeting. The projectile attacks are near impossible to use effectively unless you're inches from an enemy because the game will auto target the enemy nearest to you, whether you want to or not. Played on the game's normal difficulty setting Godzilla Unleashed is also far too easy, with progress coming no matter how adept you are with the game's controls.
In Brawl mode you can fight with three other monsters, be it three AI controlled foes or real life opponents. This is more entertaining than playing through the story, but suffers from a restricted camera that cages you in to a certain sized area and the same awkward control scheme. Four multiplayer game types are on offer, including a straightforward head to head and most environment damage wins. It's not a mode you'll want to play for too long though.
Visually Godzilla Unleashed isn't pretty. Developer Pipeworks Software has been making Godzilla games for over five years, yet the games don't seem to have evolved much at all. This Wii game looks about on par with a poor looking PlayStation 2 game from 2002, with a dodgy frame rate, blocky monster models and low polygon environments. This is all backed up by some awful cutscenes and sub-par audio, making for one of the least impressive Wii games to date.
I wondered if the game just wasn't made for me. Perhaps I was overlooking features that actually make this latest Wii brawler something that's actually quite enjoyable, but try as I might I couldn't find many redeeming features. Godzilla Unleashed is just a shoddily put together game that will fail to excite even the most hardcore monster fans. Avoid this at all costs.