`War of the Monsters' a simple, campy treat


March 06, 2003|By Victor Godinez | Victor Godinez,KNIGHT RIDDER/TRIBUNE

Foul-mouthed, gritty realism fell flat with Sony's recent gangster title The Getaway, but campy, whimsical destruction works wonders with War of the Monsters for the PlayStation 2.

War of the Monsters ($39; suitable for ages 13 and up) plays like an interactive version of a 1950s movies where giant lizards, apes, atomic robots and lava men duke it out for control of the Earth. That's the entire plot - but it's not a bad thing.

In the one-player mode, you pick your leviathan and travel from one location to another, tussling with another mutant and moving on. The premise isn't new, but the game play has all sorts of great quirks.

When you fight in a city, helicopters and tanks will swarm around you, taking potshots while you battle your nemesis and demolish the skyline. But they aren't just for show; take too many hits, and you'll die. So you have to snatch copters out of the sky and crush them or scoop up a tank and hurl it at your opponent.

Plus, you can use the debris as clubs or spears, and you get an energy attack that you can use for long-distance strikes. You can climb up buildings and leap from rooftop to rooftop, which leads to some fun chases because your adversary will sprint for the health packs when he takes too much damage.

Graphically, War of the Monsters is nice, but it's the details that are fun. If you look closely you can see mobs screaming and running as you approach.

On the single-player setting, this game is difficult. Your opponents are fast and some of their attacks are almost impossible to block. Gamers with less patience may prefer the two-player mode or free-for-all mode, where several monsters drop into an arena at once and brawl. You can strike from afar as the computer fights itself.

The controls are good, but I did find myself stuck a couple times against a wall and the camera had some sort of fit and pointed straight up in the air.

While the city levels are great, some levels are too plain, such as the Rosdale Canyon episode, where you essentially fight in a small hole in the ground.

War of the Monsters looks deceptively simple, but the depth of the game play and the variety of monsters make this game a worthy purchase.

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