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GameCube Review: Rampage: Total Destruction

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Despite a few improvements over the years, the Rampage series hasn’t aged all that gracefully, and is desperately trying to prove its worth (which ain’t much) in a time of much bigger and better things. I consider it the modern equivalent of the heavily mocked and overdone Army Men series of the late 90s.

I still remember playing this game in the arcades, and then on my Atari 2600, which is the last time this series was interesting or novel. That was back in the 1980s, to give you some perspective on how tired and stale the premise has become, especially considering the only improvements over two decades have been cosmetic.

Anyway, you fire up the disc and are hit with a bevy of game publisher and developer logo animations you can’t skip, then get to a basic menu offering campaign mode, where you unlock everything, and a handful of other modes like a time-trial and free romp. It seems most everything in the game can be played in multiplayer, but once you get a taste of what’s inside, you may not want to drag anyone else into it.

I heard there are a ton of monsters to unlock in this one, so I jump into the campaign mode to get started. You can switch monsters at the end of each scene, but they all control pretty much the same and have similar move sets. The only reason I found to switch between them was, again, cosmetic.

Everything is a timed run. Get so many of some item in a certain amount of time is most of what you do. It’s a race, with no real exploration, which would be impossible considering how painfully cramped the environments are. Forget sandbox gameplay; here you’re playing inside an hourglass.

The monsters themselves look good and animate well (humorously at times), but the game relies too much on burp and fart jokes, and the fun of punching holes in a building, which only entertains anyone above the age of five for about 30 seconds. What’s more, the game hasn’t really evolved or grown at all in the past 20 years, despite leaps and bounds in technology.

There are still only three or four buildings to demolish per scene, each hiding their own powerups and unlockables, but after a few minutes, I just didn’t care anymore. Why? Four words: War of the Monsters.

War of the Monsters was developed for the PS2 exclusively by Incog, somewhere between their brilliant PS1 days of Warhawk and Twisted Metal, and making the PS2’s premiere action title, God of War. It’s a studio that cares about its games and adds personality and fun wherever possible. War of the Monsters took the Rampage concept to where it should be by now, offering huge urban areas to bash to bits (not GTA-sized cities, but still very big), and a healthy roster of monster movie stand-bys like the ape monster, lizard monster, electro-monster, insect monster, and so on. It reads just like the cast of Rampage, but with more personality, punch, depth, and fun to it.

However, if a GameCube’s all you have, well, you have my condolences. That aside, you’d probably be better off looking for something like Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters Melee for your beast-bashing, town-trashing fix. Heck, even King of the Monsters back on the Neo Geo and Super Nintendo was better than this.

Rampage: Total Destruction is rated E10+ (Everyone 10 and older) by the ESRB for Violence. This game can be found on: PS2.

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About Mark Buckingham

  • http://www.breakingwindows.com Matt Paprocki

    I brought up the same issues you did when I reviewed this one, but can it really be Rampage if they opened it up like War of the Monsters? I can’t see them keeping the feel of the franchise if they allowed wider movement.

  • http://torricane.blogspot.com/ Mark Buckingham

    Yeah, I think WotM works fine as an expansion of the Rampage idea. They’ve got so much in common already it’s kind of ridiculous. Besides, look at how Ubisoft improved and updated the Prince of Persia series by making it bigger and “wider” and bringing it into the third dimension. Sands of Time was a critical phenomenon.

    And really, if Midway’s not going to improve or update this stale old idea, why keep rehashing it? They lose money making retreads like this, and are heading down the same path as Acclaim (Turok: Evolution anyone?). They’d be better off sinking that money into a new idea.