"Now we stand at the end of mankind, watching helplessly and wondering what will stop these monsters and ultimately, which beast will win the War of the Monsters."
- J.D. Smith, Global Observer (the game's manual)
War of the Monsters was developed by Incog Entertainment and published by Sony Computer Entertainment. The game was released in the US for the PlayStation 2 on November 18, 2002. (The European version, as of this noding has been announced, but no release date is set.) The game is packaged in a DVD case with the system band at the top, and "WAR of the MONSTERS" in bold orange text directly below. Grappling on the cover are Congar (a giant ape) and Ultra V (a Mazinger-style mecha), as many comparatively tiny people flee. War of the Monsters is rated T by the ESRB.
Giant monsters. Fighting. In the middle of downtown, in a volcano, around a nuclear reactor, everywhere. And it's fun as hell.
War of the Monsters is Incog's return to original game design (Incog is formed from former members of SingleTrac, creators of Twisted Metal) and, in many ways, is a mix of 3-D fighting games and Twisted Metal, with ideas and stylings shamelessly cribbed from classic kaiju/giant monster movies. Players take the role of various giant monsters (see below) and, well, pound the crap out of each other. The environments are freely destructable, even gratifyingly so.
Destroying buildings leaves chunks of debris, pointed rebar, pieces of I-beam, and all sort of useful things with which to throw, impale, or bash. Incog moved beyond the kaiju mainstays of grappling and throwing opponents into things; nearly everything in the environments can be destroyed, picked up, thrown, turned on or off, or whatever. Volcanoes erupt, nuclear reactors vent toxic goo, power lines can electrocute monsters, etc. Even passing cars can be grabbed and thrown at opponents.
The game has a real sense of scale, even though the monsters don't take up a lot of space on-screen. Rather than feeling like you're playing a guy in a rubber suit, as in Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters Melee, you feel like you're controlling a several-story monstrosity. The vibration is used sparingly and effectively, and buildings crumble convincingly. All in all, a better giant monster simulation is scarce to be found.
The game's primary innovation is also one of its possble weaknesses. In a two-player match, the game starts split-screen for long ranged combat with projectile attacks, but if the two monsters approach each other, it switches to a unified fighting game-style camera for more conventional brawling. Unfortunately, the transition is less than perfect. Locking on when playing against multiple CPU monsters is also a big pain. Four-player play and online play are notably absent as well. It doesn't make this game bad, but it certainly gives everyone something to look forward to in War of the Monsters 2 (I hope).
War of the Monsters was featured in Official PlayStation Magazine, issue #64, and it was on the demo disk for that issue. Included was the first level, Congar, and Kineticlops (who was, inexplicably, often known on message boards as Triclops or Eyeclops). In this build, framerate was somewhat inferior, the CPU player AI was almost non-existant, and the combo system was incomplete, making Kineticlops far superior to Congar.
You might also want to try King of the Monsters or Rampage. Don't bother, however, with Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters Melee or Primal Rage.
The selection of giant monsters in War of the Monsters, and their skins. Bear in mind, no matter how different they look, the skins always play the same as the originals.
Preytor is a giant mantis, and she has acid and parasitic attacks.
- Togera is a Godzilla clone, with the addition of spikes that are extended and retracted for various attacks.
- Skin one is a green giant lizard.
- Skin two is like skin one, only purple.
- Skin three is a giant Togero robot.
- Skin four is a red-skinned demon, with long claws on the hands and more of a stub-snout.
Congar is a King Kong lookalike. He's got some sonic attacks, but, basically, he's a giant gorilla.
- Skin one is a green giant mantis.
- Skin two is a red giant ant.
- Skin three is a giant Preytor robot.
- Skin four is a giant yellow-and-black hornet.
Robo-47 is a giant robot with American stylings. It has a gatling gun in the chest, claw arms that transform into drills and saws and whatnot, and a nuke missile in a compartment in the back.
- Skin one is a green gorilla, with barrel arms.
- Skin two is an abominable snowman, with the same proportions as skin one.
- Skin three is a giant Congar robot.
- Skin four is an angular ice creature, with skin one's proportions.
Agamo is a giant stone statue, with a hollow head filled with flame. He's notable in that one of his attacks is to remove his head and pound on his opponent with it.
- Skin one is Robo-47, with no markings.
- Skin two is like skin one, only with red markings.
- Skin three is like skin one, only with blue markings.
- Skin four is more of a kitbashed robot, and looks like something a mad scientist built.
Ultra V is a mecha with 60's-70's Japanese stylings, obviously inspired by classics like Mazinger Z or the many sentai series.
- Skin one is Agamo crafted from grey stone.
- Skin two has green stone and colorful markings.
- Skin three has reddish stone.
- Skin four is Mecha Sweet Tooth from Twisted Metal Black, and can only be unlocked by playing War of the Monsters with a TMB save on a memory card.
Magmo is a four-armed creature made of molten rock. He's immune to flame, but not explosions.
- Skin one is dark blue with red piping and a yellow crest.
- Skin two is gunmetal grey.
- Skin three is grey with bright red piping and a yellow crest.
- Skin four is an iridescent purple female mecha with more modern stylings, looking like something out of Evangelion. She has an interesting six-part jetpack.
Kineticlops is a lanky being of pure electricity, with a giant eye in its center.
- Skin one is black rock with red-orange lava showing through.
- Skin two is red-orange, with bits of black rock.
- Skin three is a giant steam-shovel robot, with a boiler torso and four steam-shovel arms.
- Skin four is like skin two, only actually on fire.
Raptros is a hidden character, and is a typical dragon of Western styling. It's the only projectile-centric character in the game.
- Skin one has blue-purple electricity.
- Skin two has neon green electricity.
- Skin three has black electricity, making the eye more prominent.
- Skin four is a a giant amphibian creature, with two eyes and a lanky build to match the other skins.
Zorgulon is a smallish alien with a huge brain under a glass dome. He's also a hidden character.
- Skin one has red scales and yellow skin.
- Skin two has blue scales and green skin.
- Skin three has green scales and yellow skin.
- Skin four is a skeletal version of Raptros (and one of the best-looking skins in the game].
- Skin one has a green suit.
- Skin two has a blue suit.
- Skin three has a yellow suit.
- Skin four is a grey Cthuloid monster with a single red eye and tentacles in place of Zorgulon's normal torso and limbs.