Content Test 3

Original URL:
Rampage: Total Destruction
Graphics: 6.2
Gameplay: 5.5
Sound: 5.1
Control: 4.7
Replay Value: 6
Rating: 5.3
Publisher: Midway Games
Developer: Pipeworks Software
Number Of Players: 1-2 Players

Rampage is one of those classic franchises that you wish would get better with age. With every new installment, you hope against hope that the old-fashioned glory of the series is reborn, but each time, you realize the days of the ďgolden oldiesĒ are long gone. The problem with games like this is that their fun-factor is inherently cemented in old-school entertainment, and along with new technology comes the drive to overhaul old formats.

But for better or for worse, this particular series has managed to maintain its old-fashioned charm. Thereís something to be said for that, but at the same time, youíd expect the developers to utilize some of that new fandangled tech stuff to enhance the experience. You donít have to rebuild the foundation, but you could build on whatís already there, offering your fans a chance to see a familiar yet better Rampage title. Unfortunately, they just havenít made it happen with previous installments, and Rampage: Total Destruction is no different.

Now, you donít expect to see groundbreaking visuals in a game like this, but you do expect to see some definite improvement. Luckily, the graphics are one of the few evident pluses in Total Destruction, primarily due to the wide variety of monster emotions and animations. The backdrops have a moderate amount of detail but arenít exactly crisp or meticulously designed, and in general, thereís absolutely nothing to write home about. All this being said, itís solid for a Rampage game, especially when you consider itís never been a focal point of the series.

Surprisingly, itís more about the sound than the graphics. This kind of slamminí game needs top-notch effects and the benefit of a few kickiní soundtracks to compliment the gameplay. And for the most part, they kinda got it half right. The effects resound with the deep cracks and crushes of stone and brick getting mashed under tremendous weight, and thereís even a few bits of comical monologue. For example, "this monsterís kickiní our can" is one such statement youíll hear often. On the flip side, thereís about two total soundtracks in the entire game, making each level seem outrageously repetitive. This, I was not happy to find.

But letís face it- Rampage isnít about polished technicals; itís all about the gameplay. Itís about taking control of a giant beast and laying waste to any given city; bringing down buildings, chowing down on helpless humans, and tossing buses around like they were toys. If you have a burning desire to vent your frustrations, chances are, a game like Rampage: Total Destruction is right up your alley. Well, itís right up your alley for at least an hour or so, because after that, youíre not likely to keep playing.

The very first thing you notice is the surprising lack of control. It shouldnít be all that difficult to climb around, jump, and attack, but for some reason, theyíve made it extremely clunky this time around. It takes a much lighter touch than you might expect to change direction on a building (so you can reach to the left instead of the right and vice versa), and simply jumping can be a nightmare. But as the game is only pseudo-3D, there are really only so many directions to leap. And this brings me to my next topic: the environmental layout.

Of course, the franchise originated in 2D, but it also hasnít quite graduated to full 3D, either. Total Destruction puts you in a three-dimensional environment, but you can only move left to right in a set space, with the exception of being able to climb on the sides of buildings. This makes the game unbelievably linear, and while thatís nothing new to the series, itís long past time to give the gamer a few more options. Perhaps Pipeworks couldíve taken a cue from War of the Monsters...

It may be long past time to move Rampage fully into all three dimensions, because it doesnít seem like they can make it any better in this quasi-3D format. They didnít really change much else, but what they did manage to enhance couldn't quite off-set the parts that obviously needed more attention. It takes longer to bring down a building now, monster-on-monster battles have all but disappeared, and the mini-objectives to unlock new characters and upgrades are easy and mundane. Speaking of those upgrades, they were an appreciated addition because they added a modicum of depth and strategy to an almost painfully-straightforward game.

And for more on the plus side of things, the monster animations are fluid and their varied reactions can be downright hilarious. Furthermore, there are many, many crazy beasts to unlock and use, all of which have different strengths, thus adding even more to the gameplay depth. But despite the diverse abilities that include Jump and Crush, each monster pretty much controls the same. And there is far too much overlap when it comes to the upgrades; Georgeís first skill is exactly the same as Ralphís, for instance.

Yeah, weíve got a Timed Mode and a King of the World Mode, but theyíre not likely to hold your attention for very long. The gameís bread and butter is entrenched in the campaign and multiplayer, but due to a significant lack of control, repetitive levels, and gameplay that should maintain a higher fun-factor for much longer, the ďbread and butterĒ is crippled. Co-op can be fun and itís always a minor thrill to go bashing around town, but how often can we do the same olí same olí without enough of the advancements we mightíve expected?

In the end, youíll probably make it through Las Vegas, San Francisco, and London, but after that, if youíre still playing, youíre either immensely bored or far more enamored with the game than I was. Rampage: Total Destruction has few good points, and the basic theme is still good-hearted fun (which does work, to some extent), but there are just too many glaring issues to recommend it for purchase...even if it is only $20. But I always like to leave the reader with something positive, so Iíll say itís certainly better than other budget-priced PS2 titles. Beyond that...

10/4/2006   Ben Dutka