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Rampage: Total Destruction

Platform(s): GameCube, PlayStation 2
Genre: Action
Publisher: Midway


PS2 Review - 'Rampage: Total Destruction'

by Andrew Hayward on June 8, 2006 @ 3:09 a.m. PDT

Rampage: Total Destruction offers a fresh take on an arcade classic complete with everyone's favorite monsters: George, Lizzie, and Ralph, along with a variety of new monsters to collect and play. Virtually everything in the environment can be damaged, broken, and utterly destroyed with plenty of hilarious results. Aided by power-ups, the Rampage: Total Destruction monsters are capable of acquiring a number of upgrades throughout the course of a single campaign. Players can annihilate cities all over the world in either one or two player mode in this reinvention of the Midway classic.

Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Midway
Developer: Pipeworks Software
Release Date: April 24, 2006

Rampage first hit arcades two decades ago; though simplistic, it was a smash hit, spawning nine home versions, including one for the Atari Lynx (which I have, ha). The premise of the game was to destroy one of over 100 generic cities … and then move onto the next. It sounds terribly monotonous, but it was apparently the pinnacle of gaming at that point. The game starred three massive monsters: George the gorilla, Ralph the wolf, and Lizzie the lizard. Rampage featured support for up to three players, which is a big reason why it was such a hit. Get two friends, play for 15 minutes, and leave amused.

Midway is well-known for its exploitation of past franchises, so it was no shocker when Rampage World Tour surfaced in 1997. Despite 11 years of gaming evolution, the concept was essentially the same: move, destroy, and repeat. Still, it must have made Midway a profit, as 1999 saw the multi-platform release of Rampage 2: Universal Tour, Rampage Through Time for the PlayStation was released in 2000, and Rampage Puzzle Attack for the Game Boy Color came out in 2001, which seemed to mark the end for the series.

Other than the inclusion of Rampage and Rampage World Tour in the Midway Arcade Treasures series, it seemed like the Rampage series would stay dead. Oh, how naïve I was. Rampage: Total Destruction brings the archaic series to the next generation, invading the PlayStation 2 and GameCube consoles. Is Total Destruction yet another retread of the same old gameplay, or did Midway take the opportunity to create a true next-generation experience? Before revealing the answer, let me state that my cynicism towards the previous entries in the series did not preclude me from objectively reviewing this game. I went into the game with an open mind, hoping for the best.

Despite the upgraded visuals, Rampage: Total Destruction is more or less the same gaming experience they have pushed on us for the last two decades. God of War and Katamari Damacy -- both games are $19.99 and both present innovative, excellent gaming experiences. Sure, Rampage: Total Destruction is a budget title, but it brings little substance to the table. I will admit that it does attempt to lengthen the experience via character upgrades and unlockables, but the gameplay makes it all for naught.

After popping the game into your PlayStation 2, you are greeted with an opening CG cinema. I was both surprised and glad to see a storyline; if the gameplay were the same, maybe the narrative would be compelling enough to be worth my time. It starts off with a man taking a taste test between two sodas, with Scum Soda being the clear victor. Unfortunately for him, the soda turns him into a monster. In a board room setting, we find out that 30 people have tried the soda, resulting in a 30 monsters causing chaos around the world. It is an amusing, if implausible, concept and one that seems to carry anti-corporate sentiment. The corporate suits are not concerned about the people, only the risk to the company.

I am probably digging too deep into the meanings; after all, the storyline never comes up again until the ending cinema, which expectedly leaves the door open for a sequel. Instead, you are thrust into the campaign, which contains just seven cities. From Las Vegas to New York, the story is the same: move, destroy, and repeat. Sound familiar? It is the same gameplay model of the original game, as well as the other sequels. Each city is divided into eight to 10 levels, with each containing a handful of buildings to destroy. The control scheme is pretty easy to learn: press x to jump, circle to grab at something/someone, square to punch, and triangle to kick. Some basic combo moves are also available.

Rampage: Total Destruction is still a two-dimensional game at heart, though the addition of movement into the background is new for the franchise. It really is not a major change, and is in some ways a downgrade. All it does is add additional buildings to destroy behind the ones in the foreground. Also, based on where you are standing, it can be tough to determine exactly where your punch will land. While bashing buildings, you will be shot at by helicopters, police officers, and people sticking out of windows. These attacks don't do a whole lot of damage to your character, but it can add up with time. If your life bar is running low, make sure to grab some of the power-ups that pop up in the holes you have made in the buildings. Some have adverse effects, though, so refer to the instruction manual to determine which ones are safe.

Each city is visually unique, containing familiar landmarks that have been parodied for someone's amusement (not mine). Las Vegas has signs for the stage shows "RANT," "Stomped," and "Sigmund and Froyd," as well as a "Hard Luck Buffet." Chicago is my own local metropolis, and I definitely noticed some of the more distinct details. There were signs advertising the red line train, as well as a "Tribune" sign to signify the Chicago Tribune newspaper. However, the end result is always the same: you will destroy every building until you face a boss, which is just a scientist inside some sort of mechanical contraption. These battles are over quickly, as is the entire game. Most gamers would be disappointed with a three-hour game, but the button-mashing melee could not end too quickly for me.

Aside from the campaign mode, there are three other game types. King of the City pits your character against that of a friend or the computer, in a race to cause the most damage. King of the World mode is essentially the same thing, but with every city instead of just one. Timed Run mode gives you a set amount of time in which to destroy a city block. In the end, they are all just variations of the same theme: destroy, destroy, destroy. The gameplay is so woefully outdated that there is almost no enjoyment to be had. Full versions of both Rampage and Rampage: World Tour are included as bonuses, though it is clear that they were just ripped out of the Midway Arcade Treasures games (same in-game menu screen). If anything, they only serve to prove how little progress the series has made in 20 years.

Obviously, a visual upgrade was necessary for Midway to label this a PlayStation 2 game, and the graphics here are sufficient. Some of the vehicles sport low-resolution textures, but at least the water effects look great. There is some spoken dialogue in the game; I say "some" because it is clear that only a handful of lines were recorded. You will hear "Take that, you monster!" and "Come to papa!" more times than you can count on all of your appendages. Most of the music sounds like something created with MTV Music Generator, but I was not expecting an orchestrated score.

Many lackluster games have spectacular ideas but poor execution. Rampage: Total Destruction, on the other hand, has the same gameplay it's had 20 years ago, offering only negligible upgrades. Buyer, beware - your dollars are better spent elsewhere, unless you're a die-hard fan of the franchise.

Score: 4.0/10

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