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War of the Monsters

Score: 9.0 / 10

Fans of giant, rubber-suited monsters have had it pretty good over the years.  With the console and arcade markets fairly well dominated by the studios from Japan, the home of the atomic monster phenomenon, the critters have been seen in numerous games both at home and at the arcade.  Strangely, until now, my favorite of these games was an American creation, Rampage.  Rampage offered the full range of monster-movie clichés and, best of all, allowed for up to three players to go at a city and each other at the same time.  Sony’s new War of the Monsters (WOTM) takes the fun of Rampage, alleviates some of the repetitive nature with multiple modes and more creature options, and transforms the concept into a beautiful, 3D, city-crushing experience.


war of the monsters ps2 review          war of the monsters ps2 review


Let’s start with the beautiful part.  WOTM features bustling cites, complete with the requisite military and civilian masses milling underfoot.  The cities are well detailed, and nearly everything in them can be destroyed or picked up and hurled.  Better yet, even with tons of miniature people and a full compliment of monsters with weapon effects in full array, the frame-rate is rock solid.  Every battle plays out smoothly and with a great deal of cinematic flair.  WOTM is one of those games that works as a spectator sport.  It is simply that good to look at.


Besides the technical prowess, the attractiveness of WOTM owes a lot to the art design.  Though not particularly original, the art design of WOTM is reminiscent of both the great giant-monster movies of Japan and the broader genre of pulp serials.  Each battle is introduced with a nostalgia inducing movie poster that never 




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failed to get my juices flowing.  The art design carries over to the documentation included with the game, which includes a cool lobby-card sized movie poster and a manual designed like a 1950’s pulp magazine.


As the art-design pays homage to the films of the Atomic Age, WOTM’s game play borrows heavily from a number of earlier games.  As mentioned in the introduction, there is a lot of Rampage in WOTM.  Had Sony purchased the license and called it Rampage 3D, I doubt 


anyone would have blinked an eye.  However, the focus of WOTM isn’t on being the fastest, most destructive giant monster on the block.  WOTM is a 3D brawler that reminds me a lot of Powerstone.  It shares the totally 3D freedom of Powerstone as well as the urgent need to hunt for power-up in order to win the battles (especially in the 2-player melees).  Still, the theme over powers any similarities and WOTM ends up feeling fresh and exciting a lot more often than it feels like a retread.


war of the monsters ps2 review          war of the monsters ps2 review


Of course, many people attracted to WOTM will be drawn in by the monsters themselves.  WOTM doesn’t feature as many choices as most modern fighters, but the eight monsters available at start-up are easily distinguishable and offer distinct strengths and weaknesses.  All of the Toho monster movie clichés are present (the giant robot, the giant lizard, the giant ape, the giant insect) along with a handful of more original designs like, my favorite: Kineticlops, the giant eyeball.  (An aside, the manual features this bit of hilarity about Kineticlops: “EYE WITNESSES claim that the effective range of these electrical bolts can scan entire cities [emphasis mine]” Tee hee, “eye witnesses.”


Add some 2-player mini-games to the standard campaign, free-for-all, and endurance modes found in nearly all fighters, and there you have WOTM.  It may not be the best value for your bucks unless you have a regular opponent to play with, but fans of the theme need not hesitate.  War of the Monsters is well worth a purchase.


- Tolen Dante

(April 12, 2003)

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