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War of the Monsters
Review By:  J. Michael Neal
Developer:  Incog
Publisher:  Sony
# of Players:  1-2
Genre:  Fighting
ESRB:  Teen
Online:  No
Accessories:  Memory Card
Date Posted:  3-19-03

Remember being a little kid? Remember spending hours setting up a toy city, complete with Lego buildings, Matchbox traffic, and little green army men pedestrians? Remember how much fun it was to then take a giant Transformer and a big plastic dinosaur and crush the whole city to pieces? Well, apparently so does Sony developers Incog. Taking inspiration from classic 50ís B-movie horror flicks, Incog created War of the Monsters, a gleefully destructive bash-um-up that feels like the realization of childhood fantasies everywhere. Not since last summerís blockbuster Spider-man film has my inner child felt so satisfied.

The developers have concocted a story to give a reason for all the destruction, but who honestly cares? Do you really need a reason to have this much fun? For whatever reason, giant creatures have to beat the living hell out of each other in one of ten fully destructible environments. This can be done alone (through the Adventure and Endurance modes) or with a friend in one of the gameís multiplayer modes. The single player game is rather shallow and short, and is only good for earning points that unlock mini-games and new monsters, but WOTM doesnít even need a single player experience. The multiplayer alone is strong enough to carry War of the Monsters, at least for a while.

Much like Grand Theft Auto 3, screenshots donít do this game justice. You really need to see War of the Monsters in action in order to appreciate it. Not until you see someone pick up a car, beat someone in the head with it, then send them flying ten city blocks into a row of skyscrapers that proceeds to collapse and crush them to death do you realize what this game is all about. Or a roof-top-to-roof-top chase that ends when one monster catches the wrong end of an oil tanker and dies in a fiery explosion that sends him shooting across the map and through a billboard. Or someone get impaled by a radio tower and drowned in a tidal wave that covers the entire level. Or someone gets hit in the back of the head with a tank-turned-deadly-projectile. Or someone get picked up and tossed around like a rag doll. And just wait until you do all these to a friend! Iím telling you, this is some of the most fun you can have with your Playstation 2 and a friend.

There have been complaints about a lack of four-player slip screen options, but this request is highly impractical. Play this game for two seconds and youíll realize that you can barely keep track of all the action from a split screen prospective. Just imagine squinting at one fourth of the TV, trying to figure out what the hell is going on! It would be impossible! Also a four-player mode would render Incogís clever camera trick (in which it switches from a two-player split screen into one full screen whenever the two of you face-off) unusable.

A multiplayer oversight that canít be as easily justified, however, is the lack of online connectivity. This game just screams for network play, and considering that Incog has experience with network code after Twisted Metal: Black Online youíd think it would have been included in the game. Sure, there would probably be some lag issues with so much carnage and widespread destruction going on at the same time, but isnít that what they invented broadband for?

The visuals in WOTM go hand in hand with the playing experience. If not for the detail that went into the presentation and the level of interactivity with the environment, War of the Monsters would be half as good. The engine that was used for the game lets you destroy everything standing. Buildings, power-lines, train tracks, you name it. In some levels it is even possible to unleash a natural (or highly unnatural) disaster that will wipeout the entire map! On top of that, practically everything can be used as a weapon, from helicopters to entire homes! It all makes the levels feel like living, breathing, playgrounds of destruction begging to be brought down around your feet, or at least most of them do. A few levels are a bit on the sparse side when compared to the urban maps, but even those are still colorful and well made.

Character models are also well constructed and nicely detailed. While there arenít as many playable characters as I would have liked, the alternate skins are more than just palette swaps. They are more like manipulations of the base character models and really do feel different from their original.

The music in the game does a very nice job of setting the tone. Itís your typical, epic score that sounds like it could pass for an Indiana Jones soundtrack. The sound effects also add to the mood greatly. Close your eyes and it does sound like a 50ís giant monster horror film! The action sounds as dense and chaotic as it really is.

War of the Monstersí only real fault is its lack of depth. It does hide some depth underneath its simple premise, there is actually a surprising number of combos for each creature and more strategy involved in winning than just button-mashing, but itís not necessarily enough to keep you playing after the initial thrill has worn off. A deeper single player game (or at least many things to unlock from the existing one) or online capability could have easily corrected this. However, a steady second player will insure that this "initial thrill" will last for weeks and bring you some of the most mindlessly stupid and unabashedly over-the-top fun youíve had in the meantime.


  • Excellent visuals, style, and presentation.
  • Excellent sound design.
  • Great character designs and alternate skins.
  • Merging split screens an awesome idea.
  • Fully destroyable environments rule.
  • Outstanding multiplayer experience.
  • Mini-games and unlockable extras will push replay value up some.


  • Single player is pretty weak.
  • Some levels arenít as interesting as others.
  • Could use more playable characters.
  • No online mode.
  • Lacks longevity


It may be short, it may be a bit shallow, it may be lacking in depth, but War of the Monsters is one of the coolest PS2 games ever release. It has a great look and feel, and makes for one of the most enjoyable multiplayer experiences ever. Everyone owes it to himself or herself to give this game a try!

Overall Score: 9.0

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