Looks great for a budget title, but plays like a budget title. by Cole Smith
April 28, 2006 – The excitement that Rampage generated in arcade during the mid 80s was a phenomenon that can never be recaptured – a very short-lived phenomenon but a phenomenon none the less. What was “cutting edge” at the time is now “sucking hard.”
Rampage: Total Destruction should not be confused with Godzilla: Destroy all Monsters, which was a game where mass destruction of cites was actually fun. Instead, Rampage: Total Destruction relies on the same old gameplay formula that made it seem exciting some almost 20 years ago. The graphics have been updated and I have to admit that they do look damn good for a budget title, but the gameplay has that repetitive arcade formula that just doesn’t translate well to home systems. I’m sure there are plenty of Rampage fans out there that are chomping at the bit to get this game but let me warn you that while you might have fond memories of this game, it just doesn’t hold up in today’s market. Before you find yourself disappointed consider renting it first. You’re likely to get it all out of your system in a couple of hours. However, at twenty bucks, it’s not a big loss.
Taking the role of one of several gargantuan-sized monsters, you roam from city to city wreaking havoc on buildings and eating the population. The more damage that you can create the quicker you’ll move on. Each block has a handful of buildings with a number of cars and civilians that you can do away with. Buildings are leveled by climbing them and then punching and kicking the crap out of them by mashing the buttons. You can also stomp on smaller objects and pick cars and people up with your hands. Various law enforcement agencies including SWAT teams and the National Guard will be on hand with guns, tanks and choppers to try to stop you but you can stomp on the vehicles and swat the crafts out of the air if they’re bothering you. Completely demolish one block and then move on to the next one. Once you destroy all the blocks in the city, you move on the next town and repeat the process all over.
Yes, there is a routine to this game. Not only is the gameplay formulaic but the generic, pseudo 3D environment doesn’t offer much in the way of visual variety. All of the buildings seem like 2D cutouts. They aren’t very satisfying to destroy since they all are so similar. It would have been so much more interesting if you could walk around and attack the buildings from any perspective as in an actual 3D action game. The control system is not very forgiving. It’s difficult to get yourself in the proper position to execute certain punches and to climb buildings. This may not be a problem when attempting to destroy a building but when you’re trying to smack a plane out of the sky or some other vehicle that is attacking you it can be very annoying to miss. You will end up just button mashing the controls so that you just cover all the bases, so to speak, stifling any chance of finessing the controls.
George the giant ape, Ralph the werewolf and Lizzy the lizard are all back and they’ve got some friends joining them such as Gill Man a frog with legs, a giant shark, a huge rat, a crazed jackelope, a Cyclops and some 25 other characters. These new monsters were one humans but were transformed into raging behemoths by taste-testing the new soft drink, Scum Soda. These new monsters are considered collectibles and are locked away in various buildings. You will discover and free them as you destroy the areas where they are hidden.
According to the hype, the different monsters have different abilities. I found the differences to be very subtle at best, and most of the time I would attribute the differences to the ham-fisted control system. Some monster are supposed to be faster, stronger, more resilient to attacks and so on, but they all share the same basic move system which is mapped to the same button commands so they all feel very similar. There are power-ups located in the windows of various building. At least you can feel the effect of those.
If you’re looking for a little assistance, another player can join you in your rampage in the two-player co-op mode. It does makes things a little more interesting as company in general seems to do. There are also a few variations of the King of the Hill mode but only two players can take part in these modes as opposed to four on the Cube. The fun is limited when you’re only facing off against one other monster. At least the controls seem a little bit more responsive in these combat modes.
There isn’t much for voiceover work although there are some decent beastly sound effects such as roars, screeches, grunts and belches. The smashing sounds of destruction are quite nice but it’s the same sounds over and over. There’s a nice low rumble that permeates throughout the destruction stages that freaks out my cats. I’m sure my neighbors aren’t too fond of it either. The soundtrack is sparse but it’s fitting.
Graphically the game looks pretty darn good for a budget title. Players would have crapped their drawers if the game looked this good when it debuted in the arcades. Trouble is, nothing looked this good back then, but everything does now. The animation is smooth, the camera work is solid if not stoic thanks to the limited perspectives, and the colors are vibrant but not overly cartoonish. The monster models are well done and show some imagination in their design and locomotive animation. Some of the cities include San Francisco where you can pick up and throw a street car and Vegas where you have to find the best poker hand in order to unlock George’s special attack.
The buildings crumble in a big messy heap but they take longer to destroy than in the original since you have to punch at the same section of wall a lot longer. You’re not just punching single tiles. This process gets to be repetitive after a short while.
For nostalgic purposes, an emulation of the original arcade game is included. It’s actually more playable than the faux 3D version as far as the control system goes, but it will also help to illustrate the old axiom: The more things change, the more they remain the same.
Once the novelty of the new graphics wears off, we’re stuck with a 20-year old arcade game that I’m not so sure I would label a classic in the first place.
- Demolish buildings, cars and everything in sight.
- Humorous reactions to the devastation.
- 7 major cities of the World with 3D neighborhoods to destroy.
- Collect and play as 30 different monsters.
- Each monster has unique attributes and abilities.
- 1-2 players on the PS2 game system.
By Cole Smith
CCC Senior Writer