Godzilla Unleashed (Wii)
- Publisher: Atari
- Developer: Pipeworks Software
This alleged brawler stars Godzilla and chums as you have never seen them before, and will never want to again.
The story mode sees you playing as everyone's favourite giant lizard. You get to explore an extensive selection of cityscapes, i.e. about five, all of which look like they were drawn in the dark. "Explore" is a bit strong as they are all tiny and can be circumnavigated in the time it takes to do a yawn.
Most missions involve destroying a load of power crystals. Sometimes enemies will try to stop you, but you can generally just pound them to death without any trouble or ignore them completely. However, there's no targeting system to speak of, so you often find yourself swiping at thin air instead of at the poorly animated robot dinosaur attacking you.
Characters are incredibly slow to pull off moves and lumber around the screen like dying monkeys. Sometimes enemies will suddenly become bored, and will wander off mid-fight to paw pointlessly at a defenceless skyscraper - leaving you to get on with the exciting task of kicking over power crystal number 489.
In some missions there are no power crystals at all, and your objective is to defeat all the monsters in the city. Or, as you'll quickly realise, to stay out of their way while they stove each others' heads in. Then you can jump in at the last moment to finish them off and be left as the last monster standing.
In theory, you use the buttons on the remote to punch and kick, while the buttons on the nunchuk are for distance weapons (breathing fire, for example) and blocking. Shaking the controllers and pressing different button combinations performs different moves, such as grapple, uppercut, parry and jump.
In practice, you can just press whatever you like and wave the controllers in the air like you just don't care and you'll still win. In fact I didn't even realise shaking the controllers and pressing the nunchuk buttons did anything till I was about ten levels into the game. And that was an accidental discovery; I was actually engaged in a conversation with a friend at the time, and happened to be gesticulating wildly while explaining how I feel about what I do for a living.
In short, Godzilla Unleashed is a terrible mess.
A-Train HX (Xbox 360)
- Publisher: 505 Games
- Developer: Artdink
Billed as "the ultimate city and train simulator", A-Train HX presents you with a series of cityscapes which you develop by building a transport infrastructure. However, it does not present you with any instructions as to how to go about this.
There's no in-game tutorial, which is a serious oversight for a game as insanely complicated as A-Train. The manual is useless; there's no quick start guide, just 40 pages of sentences like, "If you set the cutaway to the underground level, it is possible to build a materials yard underground (apart from inside or under mountains)."
You start out with a city that's already been built. After extensive fiddling with the game's seven billion menu screens, it's possible to work out how to build a train station and lay a track. But then you have to decide what kind of trains to run, and how frequently they should run, and whether they should carry cargo or people and so on and so on. You even get to draw up your own railway timetables.
Then there are buildings to construct, assuming you can work out how you're supposed to obtain the resources to construct them. You also can buy and sell shares in companies that process frozen foods and sell oats. It's not clear what this has to do with anything.
All this might sound highly appealing if you like trains, fiddly sim games and/or are mad. And I expect there's reward to be had here if you can be bothered to spend 17 hours working out what is going on, what you're supposed to do and how you're supposed to do it.
But there are much better sim games out there that don't cause huge frustration and confusion before you can even begin to enjoy playing them. Plus, they don't look ten years old. The visuals in A-Train are appalling, all flat buildings and dreadful textures and more pop-up than one of those websites with the free videos of ladies doing scissors.
The music's nice, all orchestral and swelling and when it snows you hear sleighbells. So one point for that. Otherwise A-Train HX is badly designed, poorly presented, overly complicated and utterly tedious.