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     " It's fun setting and tank throwing wackiness will keep you happy in the long run. "

      Title: War of the Monsters by Sony

      Format: PS2 Fighter

      Reviewing Monkey: Our Ape Masters

      The Hype: Fighting games are good. So are the old nostalgia monster movies of the 40's and 50's. Thus, in a stroke of sheer genius, Sony decided that what the world needed was a fighting game made up of old style Hollywood beasties and War of the Monsters was born.

      What This Monkey Thought...

      Graphics: I, like most of my fellow Monkeys, really thrive on bright and vibrantly colored games. Evidently, Sony took notice (yup, I'm telling you they did it just for us) and filled War of the Monsters with bright, energetic, and dramatically lit levels and models. Everything is so bright that it borders on pastel and that's just what you want for a game built on its camp factor. Added to that are some classically designed monster knockoffs (the giant gorilla, the huge praying mantis, a number of both western and Asian robots, and some cool elemental looking monsters) that are fluid in animation and down right charming in expression and you have a game that is sure to visually please. The only real downside to the looks of the game at all are the occasional camera problems but, more often than not, they're easily forgivable. 4 out of 5

      Playability: Always one to look at the good first, let's start with the two areas that War of the Monsters (WotM) really shines: huge levels and tons of weapons. Yup, that's right, two of the biggest gripes about fighting games from the dawn of videogaming have been solved here with gusto! The levels are giant and filled with interfering buildings and terrain. That leads to a solid element of strategy and a good sense of the city scenarios, so common in old monster movies, that they're trying to emulate. Adding to that is the truly epic sense of exactly how interactable the environments are. If it's there- be it building, boulder, car, or army tank, it can be destroyed, used as a weapon, or both. The engine is rife with opportunities to use oil pipes as weapons and radio transmitters as missiles and it adds an element of random excitement to the game the likes of which this monkey has yet to experience in a fighter. It also makes some of the others in the new rash of "destructible environment" games look like little kids in a sandbox.
          So that's the good. Unfortunately, there's also a lot of bad to go round. Mostly, and most importantly, starting with one of the most common, and most damaging, mistakes a fighting game can make. Simply put, a fighter can be fast, or a fighter can be complicated, but when a fighter is both blazingly fast and ridiculously complicated it only serves to enhance the experience of the ridiculously hardcore gamer and leaves the casual combatant grumbling and grinding their teeth. The problem, which is almost immediately evident during play, is the sheer number of options a player has. They can attack at range, attack hand to hand, pick up and swing objects, pick up and throw objects, catch objects other characters use, grapple, escape grapples, block, pull reversals, and much, much more. And while none of that in and of themselves are bad, the problem is the game moves as such an incredibly fast pace that only the die hard fanatically gamer and the computer will really be able to pull it all off- and I just plain hate that. Part of the reason I play fighting games is so that I can sit down and jam for an hour or two at a time…and I don't want to have to dedicate more time to learning the moves and options than I had to spend learning to drive.
           Moving beyond the actual control structure comes the stagnant, predictable, and yet ridiculously accomplished AI. Nothing ticks me off more than an AI that isn't smart (i.e. runs the same patterns, pulls the same moves) but ends up being hard strictly through its ridiculous accomplishments (i.e. catching every item you throw or never missing). And while in the end beating the AI won't prove to be much of a problem at the same time destroying it will also quickly stop being fun.
          Finally, and enhancing the frustration you'll feel about the AI, is the way the game ramps up difficulty. Rather than making smarter and harder opponents the WotM compensates by throwing more and more bad guys at you at a time. And while I have no problem with the occasional 2 on 1 WotM makes its money by bombarding you with ridiculously high ratios of opponents per level and rewards you almost not at all for taking them out.
          In the end, it's not that the gameplay is actually bad, it's just that it could and should have been so much better. And what it brings to the table as a strong offering in the form of levels and idea it shirks on through lazy programming and an overly complicated combat system. 3 out of 5

      Multiplayer and Replayability: The bread and butter of any fighting game is always it's multiplayer- and WotM doesn't disappoint in the options it gives you. Death match, free for all, and some very fun little mini-games all compliment each other to give the game a healthy longevity and a nice overall feel. Really, the only thing lacking is an online aspect (which would have been great given the mood and scope of the game) but is forgivable in its absence. 4 out of 5

      The Verdict:

       All in all, War of the Monsters is a good fighting game and a decent game over all. Overly convoluted controls can give you trouble while keeping up with the fast paced game play and the AI sure could use some work, but it's fun setting and tank throwing wackiness will keep you happy in the long run.

      The Good: Great classic monster designs and killer environments.

      The Bad: Lousy AI and crappy control combination.

      The Overall Ugly: It'll give you a nice break from DoA or Tekken.

      What it's Worth: Market.

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