THE SHORT VERSION


I'm not sure if it'd be fair to call Godzilla a movie tie-in game, but it certainly feels like one. It's the kind of exercise in brand management designed to give the illusion of wish-fulfillment - "Wow, I get to play as Godzilla after watching him smash buildings for two hours? Awesome!" - and instead delivers an experience that admirably disappoints (I'll explain that odd dichotomy later).

Godzilla is not the game I expected, nor was it the game I was hoping for. Other reviewers have already savaged it to kingdom come, but I don't feel as strongly as they do. It was definitely flawed, but in an endearing way, like a paperback novel scribed by a crayon-wielding Kindergartener. There have been worse attempts at monster-destruction simulators, and there have been better. Whether you'll want to play it or not depends heavily on that dichotomy I mentioned, which I'll endeavour to explain below.

STORY


You are Godzilla. You smash things. The end.

Did you really come to Godzilla for a great story, a well-thought-out and compelling narrative with
sharp dramatic turns and character arcs? No. Of course not. You came here to wreck stuff. Come on. Admit it.

Part of what makes Godzilla endearing is its almost complete disregard for something resembling a story. Oh, there is one, it's just presented the same way the stories of Just Cause 2 or Angry Birds are: on the margins, there if you want them, able to disregarded without ruining the experience.

You are Godzilla, and, depending on which gameplay mode you choose, you're either striving to do as much damage to a human city as possible or you're trying to defeat six other giant monsters to become King of the Kaiju. That's really as far as it goes, and as I said you can ignore the narration from human characters and feeble attempts at dramatic dialogue to instead concentrate on beating your previous "Buildings Toppled" record.

What more could you ask for?


GAMEPLAY


Well, for starters, you could ask for some slightly smoother controls.

While the tutorial at the start of the game does a good job of outlining how to play, I still feel like the control scheme doesn't quite work. All but one of your buttons are melee attacks, and the one that isn't is a ranged attack (GODZILLA LASER BEAMS, HELL YES). Given that your large-limbed lizard player character moves only at a speed slightly faster than a golf cart, this means you'll spend a lot of your time either plodding towards something or smacking it with the button-mashing instincts of a Tekken player. This isn't so much a problem in the city-destroying mode, since the human forces attacking you have the threatening qualities of a one-winged butterfly, but in King of Kaiju mode it makes it hard when you're facing enemies who can move out of claw-smacking range and deliver nothing but laser beams spams towards you at long range.


That mode in particular has problems, which may have been because the only monsters I had unlocked were variations on Godzilla. The kaiju encounters are randomised, meaning you could be facing the doormat-like MechaGodzilla, who goes down in a few hits, then move onto a flying moth-butterfly-laser-beam-thing who take you down with a few well-placed attacks. Maybe the playing field becomes more leveled after unlocking more monsters to play as, but as it stands it's a very difficult mode to get into from the beginning.

Godzilla's main problem is that it feels like a very insubstantial game. My glib summary of the story at the top of this review is largely it: you're Godzilla and you smash things. Every button you press is designed to smash things, like you're a slightly bigger version of 'Splosion Man. The goal for pretty much every mode is to smash things. That's really all there is to it.

This feels like it could've been a fun, 15-minutes-at-a-time downloadable title rather than a full-blown Triple-A release. The battle and combat animations are fairly long and drawn out, but they have the Dark Souls quality of not being able to land damage if you're hit by an enemy midway through your claw swing animation. The buildings and destroyable things take a few good hits before they can fall - seriously, you're telling me a giant TV aerial can take more hits than an aircraft carrier, Godzilla? - and when they do, the animations of their destruction feel wonky and more like the kind of stuff you'd see in a PS2-era game. The lack of a story works for the game's benefit, but the constant narration from the oblivious human characters telling you (and, by proxy, Godzilla) how to kill them get annoying after the first half-dozen lamentations.

But y'know, all of the above is endearing. It's a goofy game that wants to be taken seriously; you're playing as Godzilla smashing buildings and battleships, battling giant monsters for control of the world. How could you not experience the game with a complete lack of seriousness?

The problem really is its release format. As a nice little $15 downloadable title, it'd be a fun diversion. As a $69 full-priced Triple-A release, it doesn't cut the mustard.

VISUALS


I want to give immediate props to the opening tutorial level, done in greyscale as a direct homage to the old-school Japanese Godzilla films where your objective is to stride through a city and destroy a radio tower. It was fun and pretty cool to play through what is essentially a scene from one of those old schlock-festivals, so if nothing else that was a highlight.

The graphics for the rest of the game are a little basic. As I mentioned above, this feels very much like a PS2-era game with fairly simple graphics and battle animations. Godzilla certainly doesn't get its mileage out of the PS4's advanced graphics capabilities, and does look somewhat dated despite the fact it's a recent release.

Godzilla himself, as well as the other monsters, are quite nicely done, and resemble their selves from the Japanese films well. There is a certain coolness to the rapidly-destroyed battlegrounds you fight them on, with flames rising from destroyed oil tanks adding some good background detail to your climactic Clash of the Kaiju.

SOUND AND VOICE ACTING


The sounds and music are taken almost verbatim from the old movies, including Godzilla's iconic onomatopoeia roar. They do a good job at adding to the atmosphere, and it really does feel like you're recreating aspects of the films.



WRAPPING UP


Godzilla is, objectively, not a very good game. Its graphics look dated, its gameplay is monotonous, the story doesn't quite work and it feels like it should've been released at a much lower price point. As I said, other critics have mauled the game beyond all recognition for how slighted they feel at its poor quality.

But really, I didn't mind it. It's definitely a time-killer that's fun for a good half hour rather than a prolonged weekend stint, and there is definitely some fun to be had in smashing up buildings as the world's most famous killer reptile. It is admirably disappointing; it could have been better regarded for the things it does right if it weren't overshadowed by the things it does wrong.

Do I recommend it? Possibly. Maybe wait for the bargain bin on this one.

- Chris








Bridget Jones 2.0, raunchy comedy with heart. Amy Schumer rocks!

- Stu



Trainwreck hits cinemas this Thursday, if you see the film and agree or disagree with my thoughts then you know the deal, just yell at me in the comments below.



Stu and I take the helm this week and discuss what we've read, watched, and played. We also dive into some of the trailers released during San Diego Comic-Con over the weekend.

This is all before we watch a press screening of Ant-Man. Following that we have a post viewing review of the film. So yeah it's going to be a fAntastic episode!*

Also apologies in advance some bad language was used in excitement during this episode.


As always it would make our day if you could take a couple of minutes to rate and reviews us on iTunes or drop us some feedback below! Really keen to have your input in the show.

-Billy

This week's discussion topic: Trailers from San Diego Comic-Con and Post Ant-Man review (No Spoilers)


Get it from Podomatic here

Get it from Itunes here


Stu (stu@geekofoz.com)

Watch: Magic Mike XXL & Love and Mercy

Billy (@aqualec, billy@geekofoz.com)
Read: Secret Wars
Play: Destiny (X-Box One)
Watch: Orange Is The New Black Season 3


*(I can hear you all groaning at that pun)

Heist action laced with oodles of laughs. I LOVED it! - 8.5/10 - Stu

Ant-Man will be Crawling over cinemas from this Thursday.

If you see the film and agree or disagree with my thoughts feel free to drop a line below.


In 2010, Gareth Edwards (Godzilla, Star Wars: Rogue One) delivered Monsters, the micro-budget Sci-Fi film punching well above its weight. With a few clever tricks and evocative locations, the film superbly hinted at an environment much vaster than that portrayed on screen. I can’t recommend it highly enough; it’s an excellent example that art can flourish despite severe financial restrictions.

Monsters: Dark Continent picks up the action 10 years after the events of the first film, shifting the focus from America to the ongoing conflict in the Middle East. If things weren’t bad enough already, American troops are not only battling insurgent forces, but now there’s the added risk of gigantic, multi-tentacled monsters hanging around and getting up to no good. Whilst the setting is nowhere near as interesting as the first film, I appreciated that it was at least distinct from its predecessor.

Tom Green tackles directing and writing duties and does an admirable job presenting a world similar in tone to Monsters, although with an undercurrent of aggression which kind of put me off. Characters are drawn fairly broadly; ranging from the rookie gung-ho army recruits to the hard-as-nails Sergeant. There’s nothing really new here. The broadness of the characters obscured their likability and ultimately affected my level of engagement when the tension was ratcheted up throughout several key action sequences. With so many films of late focusing on the plight of soldiers in the Middle East, it’s very hard to cover new ground in terms of PTSD or the sacrifice soldiers make, and unfortunately this film doesn’t bring any fresh perspectives to the tried and tested tropes of the combat genre despite the Sc-Fi angle.

Just as Gareth Edwards has gone on to helm some massive films post Monsters, I’d happily check out what Tom Green makes next given the competence of his direction. The film seamlessly switches between frantic hand-held camera work in action sequences to longer, well-framed shots to assist the quieter moments of attempted character development. Of note, even though it’s a sequel and the monster was shown in the original film, Green still didn’t overuse the monsters and showed a degree of discipline when thrusting them into the action.

Although I didn’t enjoy this film as much as Monsters, it’s probably worth checking out if you’re a fan of the first film and want to see more of that world. I wrestled with a few niggling issues but if you can overlook the odd cliche lying about I’m sure this will tick a few of your boxes.

Monsters: Dark Continent is currently available on Blu Ray, DVD and VOD.

- Stu












.Save your pennies. Go watch T2 for the 100th time.

- Stu


Terminator Genisys bursts into theatres this Thursday. If you see the flick and agree or disagree with my thoughts feel free to call me out below. 




Suffice it to say there are MAJOR SPOILERS FOR THE FIRST TWO FILMS, as well as MINOR SPOILERS FOR THIS ONE. I'd honestly recommend you watch both before you get stuck into my wordiness.

Long-time readers of the site will know that I was, to put it very mildly, pleasantly surprised by the first two Madoka Magica films. As someone who hadn't seen the anime but had had it recommended and praised to high heaven, it was gratifying to see a story as lauded as this that actually lived up to a lot of the hype. It might not be Evangelion or Cowboy Bebop, but dammit it if isn't still one hell of a great film.

That was a great enough experience for me on its own. But then I found out there was a sequel. That had been released earlier in Japan. And was coming out here. In English. In 2015.

If there was a thermometer for measuring how excited a guy can get, it would've burst its mercury at this point.

But that also left me skeptical. The original movie ended quite firmly, with a really touching conclusion that did offer a sequel hook but was also content to imply that if this was all there was, then that was ending enough.What could a third film, tacked on after an excellent story, hope to accomplish?

Well, there's no easy answer to that, because Rebellion is at once conforms to, distorts and utterly breaks away from the mold that the first films and series created. It is to Madoka Magica what the third Rebuild of Evangelion was to that franchise: familiar and alien all at once.

So Rebellion starts off fairly similarly to the opening of the first movie, literally replaying the scenes
with Madoka waking up for school, brushing teeth with her mum and eating tomato breakfast with a brother whose cheeks are rosier than a Japanese flower garden. She leaves for school, seeing her friend Sayaka on the way and being introduced to new transfer student Homura.

Except, through all this stuff taken verbatim from the first film, there are subtle differences. Kyubey, the expositionally-verbose villainous alien cat-thing from the previous films, is now her pet who can speak only in a Pokemon-like repetition of its name's first syllable. Madoka sees Sayaka alongside Kyoko, the fiery redhead who never went to their school and lived in the ruins of a church, who's decidedly less antagonistic. Homura follows the girls after school and joins their battle against a Nightmare, with all four and their friend Mami (who is very not dead) turning into Magical Girls in a sequence mashed up out of Flashdance and the opening credits of Power Rangers.

So things are somewhat different, and that's because the world isn't quite what it used to be. After a series of strange events, Homura deduces this is not the world as it should be. The Magical Girls don't fight Nightmares, they fight Wraiths...or maybe something called Witches. And isn't Sayaka a Witch? And didn't Mami die? And isn't Madoka meant to be some kind of godlike entity?

As Ted might say, "Strange things are afoot."

It's obvious early on that we're dealing with a dream world/Matrix-style plot, watching Homura be the only sane girl in a world that gets progressively weirder. For a while it feels like something that's at once a do-over of the original story and a continuation of it, with characters' memories returning from the prior films' events and the facade of the world slowly cracking. Then the plot swerves start occurring, in true Madoka Magica style, and that's where I'll stop recapping.

Chances are you already know if you're going to check out Rebellion. If you loved the first films, as I did, you'll dive into this one. If you weren't so keen on them, then you probably won't. If you haven't seen either of the first two then what are you doing here stop reading spoilers you idiot.

Rebellion is very much a film for existing fans, doing very little to explain or rationalise past events and context for the craziness that happens here. Even for veterans like me the movie is hard going, relying on copious exposition from Kyubey at strategic moments and indulging in a very Alice in Wonderland meets The End of Evangelion for most of the film's third act. Make no mistake, Rebellion is all about the abstract weirdness and that funky art style used for the Witches that makes the film look like it was put together with anime hand drawings and off-beat French artwork. If nothing else, it's certainly unique.

But the above paragraphs kind dance around the larger question you may be aiming at me, which is "Did I like it?" Well, yes and no. I definitely think the first two films were better, ending on an excellent note and leaving it open enough to ambiguity that I was satisfied with that cinematic journey's endpoint. That doesn't mean Rebellion is bad, or even superfluous - numerous scenes end up expanding on or refuting things we might have taken for granted in the last movie - but it's a difficult animal to judge compared to its predecessors. I love seeing the characters again, I love the unique art style, and the opening half hour, once we're past the J-pop credits and overly cutesy introductions, features the kind of excellent, Avengers-style team battle that the first two films couldn't really indulge in. I'd seriously be happy just seeing that opening fight and leaving it at that.

The remainder of the film is spent taking what we both know and assume to be fact in the Madoka
Magica universe, putting it against the wall, shooting it, shooting it again, bringing it back to life, then shooting it a third time. The level of deconstructive effort put into Rebellion almost makes you wonder if everything we saw in the first two films was just a delightfully depressing fever dream, leading to the grand reveals of truth in the third. That's at once ambitiously bold and potentially fatal, especially when Rebellion builds on both an existing anime series and a two-movie condensation of same. The former story has literally been told twice over, not counting the manga adaptations or various other media. It's a narrative ingrained in longtime viewers' consciousnesses the same way Evangelion or the Star Wars original trilogy is in mine. To start pulling threads from that complete tapestry and show us that, no, what we knew isn't really true, is dangerous in terms of maintaining trust with the audience and potentially souring the experience of the previous installments. It's a claim of ruining the franchise that was leveled at Evangelion 3.33, and I wouldn't be surprised to learn if it's a similar situation here.

For what it's worth, I liked a lot of the changes that were made and the directions Rebellion took. I'm still chewing on some third act reveals that moved the movie to its, at least for me, completely unexpected endgame, and the fact that I'm not simply condensing this review into a "It's as good as the first films, go see it"-style affair shows that it's not an easy thing to write about (but really, aren't the best things in life hard to simplify in a sentence or two?). The main difficulty here is it's not as good as the first two, but it's not a bad film. In a way it almost feels like its own version of Rebuild of Evangelion, alternately retelling aspects of the original story and breaking new ground through its own original narrative.

I swear to God, Evangelion is not my only anime reference point. Remember when I mentioned Cowboy Bebop at the start, too?

To summarise my summary of Madoka Magica: Rebellion, I enjoyed it. It is definitely worth seeing, but with tempered expectations.


Puella Magi Madoka Magica: Rebellion is available now on DVD and Blu-ray from Madman.