TBT – War of the Monsters

War of the Monsters was first released on PlayStation 2 on January 14th, 2003. It is a 3D fighting game where players take control of giant monsters and brawl in various environments, ranging from large cities to spaceships and volcanos.

War of the Monsters has little story outside of the brief introductory cinematic. Aliens attacked Earth, and in response humans created a sort of EMP grid to wipe out their fleet. While the plan worked, the resulting crashes of the UFOs lead to toxic waste to spill upon the city and infect various creatures, turning them gigantic. Now, the titans clash for dominance. Any other story comes from quick in game cutscenes at the start of each level, and the story mode endings for each character, which detail the birth of said giant monster.

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The roster is rather modest, composed of ten giants, ranging from a giant Japanese robot, to a four-armed magma monster and a cyclops composed of electricity. Each monster has slightly interesting designs, yet their most eye-popping designs are locked behind costumes you must unlock using battle tokens (more on those later). Combatants have different ranged attacks and special moves, but still have similar basic attacks that make them feel unique in design only.

Combat is primarily delegated to two attack buttons: light and heavy. In addition, you can pick up and use various items in the environments, such as radio antennas, concrete pillars, trucks, and rubble. As attacks connect, you gain energy that can be used for ranged attacks, or special moves once filled. Each character has their own long range and close-range special, that ranges from AOE attacks to long range grabs that pull opponents closer to you and leave them in a stun state.

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Combos often end with launchers that send opponents flying into the destructive environments. By the end of the match, buildings have collapsed and rubble is scattered throughout the arena. Health and energy pick-ups are littered throughout the ring, and matches often end in a scramble to gather more health and energy, breaking the flow of battle into chasing each other to prevent the opponent from gaining lost health.

Despite its simplistic nature, action in War of the Monsters often feels clunky. Attacks can miss or be pushed back on block and movement in general feels strange, almost tank like. The camera movement can sometimes obstruct the view when close to buildings or the ring walls. While the lock on does ease some of the struggle, it can still be difficult to keep track of an opponent when they’re off looking for health to continue the fight.

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War of the Monsters boasts multiple unlockables…provided you pay the appropriate battle tokens. Battle tokens are currency earned through playing the game’s various modes and defeating enemies, and can be used to buy new characters, costumes, levels, and modes. While the ability to purchase new items is a refreshing return to form from the DLC based format of today, the high prices of most items require multiple story mode playthroughs or boss farming, which can grow repetitive. Despite the ability to handle four characters on screen at once, the game only supports two human players. While the extra modes are fun, their high price point leaves only but the most dedicated players left on the default vs. modes.

Overall, War of the Monsters is the gaming equivalent of the giant monster battles you’d put together with toys during childhood. It’s larger than life and filled with crazy destruction and color, but it lacks the depth of an older mind. While it’s fun at first, it will quickly lose your attention to bigger and brighter attractions.

Click here to watch us play through some of the game’s story modes as Ultra V, the Japanese robot.

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