War of the Monsters Review
Incog. Inc. has made quite a name for itself in the past couple years, mainly credited with the success of the Twisted Metal series. Expanding the car-combat genre to its breaking point, the development company has truly presented gamers an experience like no other. The question, though, is whether Incog. Inc. has what it takes to expand into other areas, and in this case, the fighting genre. War of the Monsters is an excellent example of what a free-roaming fighting title should be, and includes numerous features that can provide hours of playing time at an instance. The level variety along with a loose story all work well in this game and are key factors in replay value, as well.
War of the Monsters is a very arcade-themed game and the graphics exhibit this point nicely. The character models are very smooth and are beautifully portrayed in the seamless movement. There are no frame rate issues, even with multiple players and additional screens going at the same time. The special effects and destruction are just as you'd expect from Incog. Inc., as everything is very fast paced and the amount of action is heart-racing at times. The environments are also very polished, as there is a pre-rendered atmosphere in the background, with a completely interactive setting to fight around. Players will notice the attention to detail, as they venture through the streets with cars weaving, trains racing, and buildings crumbling. Each aspect is rather unique and offers a nice side of the story for the game.
War of the Monsters doesn't offer the strongest storyline in its game, but successfully combines a sense of substance along with the addictive gameplay and overall experience. In the game, players choose from a host of look-a-like monsters, such as Godzilla and King Kong based characters. Once chosen, players lead their characters through different levels against each monster in the game, and many times more than one monster at once. As you progress, there will be boss fights to contend with, which adds an extra sense of challenge, if it wasn't already there in full force. There are different fighting styles to choose from, but they basically involve long and short-range attacks. Depending on your enemy, each fighting tactic has its advantages. For those monsters that are rather aggressive against you, the short-range attack is your best option. With various combo moves to perform, button mashers will have a hard time with this game. Occasionally, the game becomes a little too tedious in that area, but it can be overlooked with other positive aspects. As for the long-range attacks, this is used when your opponent is constantly searching for health and energy power-ups, and you are unable to reach them for short-range efforts. In this case, almost anything is up for grabs to throw at the monster, including cars, trains, and helicopters. However, with so many buildings in the way, it does become rather difficult to attack your opponent when they are extremely passive. In this instance, it may be wise to just start attacking the buildings themselves, as to completely destroy them and allow for some room in attacking. At any rate, in whatever manner you decide to fight your opponent, rest assured there are a number of options for being victorious. The fighting style is very arcade-like and a blast to just sit down with and play. The multi-player ability adds a great amount of replay value, as you can play against three monsters (one human, two CPU) for a total of four screens. Although the storyline of the single-player mode isn't anything spectacular, the arcade fighting approach and fast paced action of the two-player option is enough to warrant a purchase from fighting fans.
The sound in War of the Monsters is very powerful, as you'd expect, and you won't be hearing any soft, melodious tunes to add to the atmosphere. WOTM provides similar music as you'd hear in the old-time movies, especially the drive-in horror films and monster flicks. The sound effects are very sharp and commanding, and really provide energy for the game. The actual fighting effects supply most of the mood, but honking horns, moving trains, and other real-life occurrences are a nice addition to the game.
The game controls rather well, but does have some serious camera angle issues and other control difficulties. When getting close up against a building, you will sometimes have portions be cutoff and the building will completely disappear at other times. Also, it can become difficult to completely turn around, as you will occasionally struggle to face your opponent. However, overall the game moves extremely well and responds well to your direction. Scaling buildings and dodging projectiles is no problem, and Incog. Inc. has allowed for a very easy interface to operate. You have the ability to dash (double tap direction), which comes in handy when trying to avoid oncoming fire and your opponent itself. X is your jump button and Circle allows you to climb buildings, while square and triangle are for moderate and strong physical attacks, respectively.
In the end, War of the Monsters is that monster arcade-fighter that people have been looking forward to for a long time. Fans of fighting titles will definitely want to consider this game, while others should still at least give it consideration. The graphics are well put together for the style of game, and the gameplay is quite with numerous options to choose from. A few more characters would have been nice to see, and a more in-depth storyline is strongly welcome, but overall WOTM does an excellent job accomplishing what it set out for itself. If you're an arcade fan who just can't get enough of fighting games, War of the Monsters is an easy decision.
3/4/2003 Matthew Stensrud