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In Memory
Sean Pettibone




   


 



With its cool retro feel, addictive gameplay and fast-paced brawling action, SCEAís War of the Monsters lets you go on a rampage, throwing cars and crushing buildings while trying to defeat any monsters in your way. The game also includes multiplayer modes and loads of secrets that add to the replay value. WOTM looks decent graphically, but unfortunately, it suffers from poor camera angles and other flaws. Do these problems ruin the game? The Laser is on the loose and canít be stopped until the answer is found.

War of the Monsters takes place the near future when sinister aliens invade the Earth, but the scientists have devised a plan to defeat them. Using radioactive guns, they destroy this force but thereís an unfortunate side-effect. The radiation has created fearsome mutated monsters that proceed to go on a massive rampage throughout the worldís cities. You take the role of one of these monsters, and your goal is to destroy as many of the other monsters as you can before they can wipe you out. There are 10 in all, though only 8 are available initially with the other two becoming available as you beat the game. These characters are more than a little inspired by 1950ís and 60ís science fiction anti-heroes such as Godzilla and King Kong. Unfortunately, WOTM lacks the licenses to use any of those classic movie villains. However, the archetypes are acceptable replacements with a giant lizard, a huge ape, alien giants, massive electric balls, and other characters that recreate the spirit of those classic cinema monsters.

Several modes of play are included that encompass single and multi-player modes. As usual, the single-player Adventure mode is the most satisfying. In this mode, you progress through a series of levels with a single monster and face the occasional boss character. This is also the only mode where you can earn Combat Points, which you can use to buy extras including costumes, characters, new locations and more. The Combat Points also unlock the multiplayer mini-games. The other single player modes are much simpler and allow you to jump right in for a fast, frenetic game. In the Free-for-all mode, you select how many opponents you face, the number of kills and which location youíll play in. The game also includes an Endurance mode, where you try to defeat as many enemies as you can with a single life. There are several multiplayer modes included, which take place in a split-screen, but this comes together when the players are at close range for a cool effect. These include a variation on the Free-for-all mode, plus an Elimination mode and the mini-games that are loads of fun. Sadly, the game doesnít support online play, which is disappointing because this would be perfect. Since Incog did Twisted Metal Black Online, WOTMís lack of internet support is a bit disappointing. Despite this, WOTM still offers a decent array of multiplayer modes that are fun to play, so itís better not to dwell on whatís not there.

WOTMís fighting system is quite extensive, and entertaining with a mix of fighting and destruction. The monsters go at each other with a variety of moves including both long and short range attacks and can pick up and throw objects, and destroy buildings with abandon. You can battle using your standard attacks that include punches and kicks.The monsters can fire long-range projectiles such as flames and other objects that can be used to hurt a foe from a safe distance. However, the projectile weapons have a limited amount of energy, but you can collect energy power-ups to restore these to full power. Players can also use defensive moves to get out of an opponentsí line of fire, such as jumping and climbing up buildings. This is quite intuitive and you can create a lot of damage by hitting the opponent multiple times. This sounds like just another fighting game, but the environments are truly interactive and can play a large role in the battles. One of the coolest aspects of WOTM is that you can pick up cars, trucks, trains, girders and other objects and throw them at enemies. You can also hold and use them as weapons at close range, which adds an interesting dimension of strategy to the battles. You can block an opponentís attack by pressing the shift button and going into the defensive position. Players can also look around when their monster is stationary, but can adjust the camera angle. Grabbing and throwing the enemies can also cause plenty of incremental damage. Another aspect of the fighting is that you can take advantage of an opponent when theyíre down by pummeling them while theyíre helpless. Finally, you can crush an opponent under a falling building if you time your attack just right, causing an automatic win.

There are some really cool special moves to perform a devastating combo on your opponent when the power-up indicator is at full strength. Each monster has its own set of special combo moves, but fortunately these are easy to perform and inflict a lot of damage. While itís a relatively straightforward game, hereís a surprisingly large number of moves that you can use which gives the game more depth than youíd expect. Controlling the monsters isnít that difficult thanks to the intuitive controls. Moving around is simple layers should be able to get right into the action without much effort, and the interface makes the fighting loads of fun. The difficulty balance isnít as complex as a traditional fighting game and WOTMís controls definitely tilted towards the simpler, easier to play command structure.

The fighting system is excellent, but War of the Monsters has some significant flaws that detract from the experience. You never know how close you are to defeating an enemy because there isnít a health indicator for them. This gets annoying quickly, especially when you face multiple opponents who are attacking simultaneously. To add further insult to injury, the health power-ups you find barely add to your energy, which makes for some frustratingly difficult battles. This would be bad enough, but the gameís other major problem is the camera system. You frequently lose track of where you are and enemies can disappear at odd angles. Fortunately, a small icon that shows you where the enemies are, making them easier to locate. One mitigating factor in all of this comes in the levels themselves, which are relatively compact. Unfortunately, another problem stems from the confined battle arenas, which allow the enemies to block you in, pummeling endlessly while you have no chance to escape. This lack of freedom becomes annoying quickly, and limits the gameís replay value. Even though the graphics look decent, the camera system interferes with the gameplay because the substandard angles make it overly difficult to target the projectiles at opponents, even with the lock-on enabled. While you can become accustomed to these limitations, the gameís poor camera system is extremely disappointing.

Despite these problems, thereís still a lot to like about War of the Monsters. Incog has done an excellent job of capturing the nostalgic feel of classic science fiction films. As you can tell from the screen-shots, the monstersí designs themselves are creative, evoking the spirit of these influential movies. The graphics engine is decent, though the game suffers from the PS2 jaggie plague. However, the monster models are detailed and convincing and they move and animate beautifully through the gameís detailed levels. The music in the game fits this mood perfectly and makes an excellent compliment to the action. Its problems donít mean that the smash and bash gameplay isnít a lot of fun, because it is. The game shines in its two-player modes that can be quite addictive. WOTMís single player mode is also enjoyable, but suffers because the action gets a tad repetitive. Itís not that itís boring, but this is definitely the kind of game thatís best played in small amounts, and not extended play. Despite itís promising concept, the overall verdict is unfortunately tarnished by the camera problems which hurts the replay value significantly. While itís far from perfect, War of the Monsters is entertaining and enjoyable, especially for fans of classic science fiction. Most players should find enough entertainment value in the various modes to merit a recommendation, despite its problems.




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