Rampage: Total Destruction Reader Review
This game is the latest in a series of Rampage games from Midway stretching back to the mid-80s when Rampage was released in the arcades as the first (and practically only) example of the Giant Monsters Wreaking Havoc genre of video games. Having grown up watching and play acting Godzilla, Gamera, Ultraman and any number of other Japanese giant robot/monster films and TV series it was like a dream come true to control one of these brutes and smash buildings and cars.
Several years later an arcade sequel came out in Rampage World Tour which updated the graphics, enlarged the size of the city street and added more moves to the characters. This quickly went to the consoles of the time, and I had it on the Playstation. A direct-to-Playstation sequel, Rampage Universal Tour, followed which added additional monsters and took the action off-planet, but was essentially still Rampage World Tour.
Now on the Wii we have Rampage Total Destruction, which is a port of a game released on the Gamecube and Playstation 2. The core gameplay is the same and this appears to be the major criticism of it: if smashing buildings with a giant monster over and over again doesn't sound appealing, well, this isn't for you. If, like, me, you have Godzilla Unleashed, it's a pretty decent partner to it. The aforementioned Rampage and Rampage World Tour are included as bonus content and are excellent ports done by Digital Eclipse, so there's more Rampage action here than anyone could realistically ask for.
The opening animated film sets the story and it's pretty good, in fact the quality of the animation and the video is such you could think you were watching a feature (Midway as the next Disney?). Basically a bunch of people participated in a Scum Labs soft drink taste test and mutated into monsters and now they're on the rampage.
The core gameplay is the same as described for the previous games: control a giant monster and smash buildings, cars and any military hardware that comes to try and stop you. Your health bar goes down as you take damage from being shot at by helicopters, police, soldiers and other military vehicles; you can replenish this with food items found in building windows (after you bust them out) or more easily by grabbing and eating people.
Rampage Total Destruction differs from previous installments by adding depth, so that your character can climb up the face of a building rather than the side and can walk into the background to get at other buildings or vehicles. Each city is divided into blocks and the next block can be seen in the background (though you cannot walk to it). You proceed from block-to-block when either the level timer expires or you've destroyed every available building. Unlike Rampage World Tour the screen doesn't wrap around: you have the current screen and then two off to each side. Every level has some kind of challenge to complete based around eating certain things or getting certain special tokens in order to get bonus points and unlock attack upgrades. After 10 blocks you have a boss fight with the CEO of Scum Labs who comes at you in some kind of fancy vehicle to try to stop you; destroying him is the challenge for that level. After that you proceed to the next level.
Initially you start out with a choice of 8 monsters, which is five more than the original two games, but there are many more to unlock by finding cryo-tubes hidden in buildings. Apparently there's more than two dozen in all. Best of all at the end of every block you have the ability to switch monsters, though by doing so you miss the cut scene of your character walking into the background to the next block.
Controls aren't bad, but a valid criticism of the game is the way gestures are implemented. Whereas Rampage controlled with a stick and two buttons, Jump and Punch, and World Tour used three: Jump, Punch and Kick, Total Destruction has a large number of moves and until you get the hang of them you'll want to keep the manual handy.
The stick on the nunchuk is used to move; when on the ground up and down take you into the background and foreground and up and down a building when you are on a building. B is jump and A has a number of functions. At its most basic A=punch; swiping the wiimote at a person or car on the ground picks them up. Pressing A with a person in your hand eats them; if you have car you throw it -- you can also throw cars at buildings, which is pretty cool. A wiimote swipe will also do the throw, so be sure to remember not to throw your food away when you have a person in hand! If you're on a building A punches the building and as in previous games moving your directional stick away from the building allows you to swing an arm out, say to hit a nearby apache helicopter. Swiping the wiimote left or right on a building causes you to do a wind-up punch which does more damage than a regular one, though this takes more time to deliver. Swinging the wiimote down whilst on a building is supposed to deliver a kick to it, but the motion detection really needed some more tweaking here and often you'll need to angle the downward motion or it gets detected as a swipe. Likewise kicking something whilst on the ground (called "punting" in the manual) is supposed to be motion down+A, but this rarely gets detected properly and often gets translated as simply a downward smash which is just a jerk of the wiimote down. Thankfully there's an alternative in the form of direction stick down+A which works more consistently. You can do jump kicks like in World Tour by pressing jump and then punch, you can do double jumps by pressing jump and then jump again whilst in the air. Lastly you can do a spin attack by swinging the wiimote after jumping.
So gesture-wise it's largely intuitive, but you need to know what to do before trying it -- there is no tutorial other than a screen showing you A = punch and B = jump before starting a new block -- and clearly the controls needed a little tweaking. Why they didn't use Z to kick instead of using gestures I don't know because the building kicks are a good way to bring a building down quickly as any veterans of World Tour will know. Still the game is very playable as the moves are generally simple to pull off. In addition to what's already been listed you can unlock 5 upgrade moves which include a more crazy jump-spin attack, a jump-smash (good for collapsing buildings below you), increased speed and best of all a Roar (A+B) which damages everything in a radius around you. The upgrades need to be earned for each character, but you get to try them out if you manage to find a RAMPAGE token or build up your Rampage meter sufficiently to trigger it. When you're in a RAMPAGE you can use all the upgrades temporarily and really do some damage.
Visually the game is a huge improvement over previous ones with night time levels being very impressive in terms of lighting effects. The characters are large and nicely animated; at the end of a block statistics are counted and you get to see your character from a front angle doing different actions before moving to the next block. The detail is really nice and clearly a good effort was made in making each monster look unique. The game is also vividly colourful and pleasing. Human animations are nicely detailed and bonus items are large enough to easily tell what they are and to find them on screen.
The audio is decent but a little on the low side. You have the option to lower the volume of the music which I'll have to try to see if I can improve things, but I find myself having to turn up the volume on this game moreso than on other Wii titles. Quality of the audio is generally good otherwise. There is a generic rock guitar soundtrack, the monsters make various roars and belches and the humans have amusing things to say (I never get tired of the cops saying "Take that you mutant!") before you dispatch them.
What I've been describing is the basic campaign which is a one or two-player affair, but there are a few 1-4 player/cpu multiplayer modes in which the goal is to accumulate points or achieve different objectives, but also gives you a chance to beat up on other monsters as well. It's not as mental as a Godzilla Unleashed match, but should be good fun and with less complicated controls to boot.
This game isn't going to set the world on fire, but if controlling a giant monster and smashing things up sounds like fun, it's worth checking out. You can get this game 2nd-hand at Gamestation for £8 and I think you could do a lot worse for that money.
Good for a bash now and then and I'd give it a solid 6/10.
6 / 10