Originally created 02/25/03

B-movie fans will enjoy 'Monsters' video game

Those 1950s monster B-movies that scared kids out of their socks in darkened theaters across the land are back in a wild new game featuring a gaggle of gorillas and Godzillas.

Incog Inc.'s creation for Sony and the PlayStation 2 is packed with huge, vicious beasts like Congar, a gigantic gorilla who makes King Kong look like an organ grinder's monkey, and Togera, who could be Godzilla's older, bigger and meaner brother.

There are also huge robots, a monster praying mantis lookalike and Kineticlops, a fearsome one-eyed creature of pure crackling energy. Each of these nightmares features its own special attack - and a fascination with redecorating entire cities by turning them into smoking rubble.

The creatures are mutants, a condition caused by toxic fuel from wrecked spacecraft after the world unites to destroy an invading alien attack. Then, being human, we really messed things up by building giant robots fueled by the alien gasoline. The robots, of course, also turned against us.

Sony's developer really got into the Cold War movie frenzy, with posters done in '50s style advertising fake movies such as "Outpost X" for you to watch while the game loads.

The creatures battle by picking up cars and trucks and throwing them at each other, or by knocking down every building in town as they battle across 13 cityscapes. The best part of leveling cities, aside from the pure entertainment value, is that whatever is left - radio towers, chunks of concrete - can be used to skewer or batter your enemy.

A drawback - or a plus, depending on your point of view - is that each monster works pretty much like every other monster. While their special moves and attacks are different, the commands are interchangeable, so learning the game is pretty easy.

There's a great two-player game which has you both battling on the same screen until you or your opponent decide to make a run for it. As the distance increases, the screen splits to show where you are, then blends back into one arena as you close in for the kill.

The multiplayer mode would be better if it allowed four players to fight instead of just two. Maybe next time.

A round of applause for the battlefields. They are spendid, full of fabulous detail and a gorgeous palette of colors for your surroundings and the battling beasts.

Graphics get an A. Lush detail, gorgeous colors, the ability to destroy virtually everything you see, and amazingly varied monsters make for a great-looking game.

Sound gets a B. Effects are solid, and the music, which recalls the B-movie themes of the past, is terrific.

Control gets a B. The button scheme is simple to catch on to, and the same buttons control both long-range power weapons and close-in hand to hand - or claw to claw - fighting.

"War of the Monsters" gets a B. It isn't perfect, but it's a great way to hone your combat skills in case those aliens return.

"War of the Monsters" is rated T, for ages 13 and up.

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