A game like Godzilla: Unleashed just begs for an introduction by "movie trailer voice guy". You know, something like, "In a world where strange crystals have taken over Earth's major cities, monsters come to settle their differences in the only way they know how--through battle!" Recently, the good folks from Atari and Pipeworks Software stopped by to give us an early look at Unleashed for the Wii. This is the debut of the king of all monsters on the Wii, and as you might expect, the game's controls put a unique spin on the time-honored tradition of monster fighting games.
The game follows the adventures of Godzilla and his monstrous enemies as they battle in huge urban environments, which, as noted, have been infested by strange crystals that mysteriously attract the planet's monster population. Once the monsters meet up, they duke it out in a way that proves to be highly destructible to surrounding structures in the area. Throughout the storyline in Godzilla: Unleashed, you'll follow four factions--the Earth defenders, the aliens, the mechas, and the mutants, all of whom play a part in the game's plot. As the producers told us, the plot is nonlinear, so which monsters you choose to fight at any given time in a level will determine who your ally, or your enemy, is as the story progresses.
Among the confirmed monsters playable in Godzilla: Unleashed (out of an eventual total of at least 16) are Godzilla 2000, Megalon, Gigan (from Godzilla: Final Wars), and Kiryu (aka Mechagodzilla). Though the producers haven't revealed the final roster, they did say the game will include both flying and burrowing monsters from the Toho pantheon, as well as new Toho-approved beasts to control. In the demo we played, we got to see Godzilla take on Kiryu, wreaking massive devastation in the process. The buildings surrounding the dueling duo showed off both full and partial destruction modeling, which, like the rest of the game, is in very early development. Still, with pieces falling off the building as you punch and kick your way around, it's easy to see the potential for some very cool destruction in the future.
The controls in Godzilla: Unleashed make use of both the Wii Remote and the Nunchuk controller as you move your monster around the environment. Basic attacks, such as punches and kicks, are pulled off by pressing the A or B button on the Wii Remote. Over on the Nunchuk controller, you can duck by pressing the Z button and power up your special attack with the C button. To leap, you hold down the Z button and then move the controller up, and as you slowly return to the ground, you can get in plenty of attacks on the way down. Also, monsters will be able to lift up some of the smaller buildings in the game and toss them at opponents; to do so, you simply move both the Wii Remote and the Nunchuk up to pick up a building, then make a throwing motion to toss it at your foe.
Among the coolest moves are the various ranged attacks, such as Godzilla's fire breath. When you fire your ranged attacks, you control the direction of the shot by twisting the Wii Remote left or right. The developers are planning to add a lock-on feature to help you hit your targets, but during the demo, it was fun to just let loose with a beam laser and lay waste to everything in your path. When two monsters lock their beams together, it results in a minigame where you bat the combined beam back and forth much like in a tennis game; the loser is the one who fails to deflect the opponent's beam in time. Monsters will have more than one ranged attack--for example, Kiryu will have a beam weapon but will also be able to fire homing weapons out of his back, which, frankly, is just awesome.
In addition to the monsters you'll encounter during the game, you'll have to take on the puny Earth defenses. We saw only a few scattered tanks in the demo we played, but the producers assured us that military vehicles will be prevalent in the final version of the game. All of this action will take place in eight environments that are smaller, but more densely packed, than those found in previous Godzilla games, such as Godzilla: Save the Earth. As you fight, you'll have two meters to keep track of: one for your health and one for your energy, which will determine how long you can use your breath weapons.
With a nonlinear storyline in single-player and with multiplayer modes supporting up to four players, there's plenty to look forward to in Godzilla: Unleashed. The game is due for release toward the latter part of 2007, so there is lots of work still to be done on Godzilla: Unleashed for the Wii. Being the freakish fans of the big lizard that we are, we'll be keeping a close eye on the game as it progresses throughout the year.