Rampage: Total Destruction for GameCube Review

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I played the original Rampage for the first time not too long ago and it seems very dated but I do have fond memories of playing both Rampage: World Tour and Rampage 2: Universal Tour for the original PlayStation. Like the Gauntlet series, the Rampage games are very repetitive and are best played in short bursts unless you can really get into them. My favorite has always been Universal Tour just because of the additions and I do feel its a bit underrated. But I will admit that it’s basically a rehash of World Tour. Regardless, I love this series. Granted, by the one hundredth city, you’ve probably had enough but as a kid, I could play repetitive games like this all day. Developed by Pipeworks Software and published by Midway Games, Rampage: Total Destruction is the latest entry in the Rampage series, released for the GameCube and PlayStation 2 in April, 2006. An updated version with new monsters and a even a new monster upgrade, among other things, was released for the Wii later that same year. For this review, I played the GameCube version and you may be wondering why I didn’t play the Wii version. Well I do have both but I refuse to play a Rampage game with fucking motion controls.

I don’t know about the original game but the storylines in World Tour and Universal Tour are not very in depth but I don’t think anybody really expects anything in terms of deep narrative for a Rampage game. In those games the story involved some kind of explosion or accident at the Scum Labs facility and I guess the chemicals or something turned some of the employees into giant monsters. The original trio included George, a giant ape, Lizzie, a giant lizard, and Ralph, a giant wolf. Universal Tour added several new monsters to the roster. The classic trio does return here along with a ton of new monsters. I think there’s about thirty in total. The story in Total Destruction revolves around people drinking Scum Soda and turning into monsters. Scum Labs fucked up again. If you really think about it, it’s just amazing they’re still in business. The storyline is clearly just a backdrop for the gameplay and you probably won’t even care. The few cut scenes that are here are silly, cartoon-y, and I can’t imagine anyone taking them seriously.

I’m going to admit, I’ve owned this game for years and always thought it just sucked ass. But now that I’ve played it for more than twenty minutes, it’s not nearly as bad as I thought but I still like the previous games better. The core gameplay in Total Destruction is nothing new. Just like in previous entries, the objective is to destroy cities one building at a time, you can smash or throw vehicles, eat, kick, and stomp pedestrians, smack aircraft out of sky, you know, typical Rampage shit. Now there is quite a few changes to the gameplay that are not all for the better. The biggest being the controls and camera. Previous games had you moving your monster left and right. Now you can also move forward and backwards. However, the camera is positioned in a way that it can be difficult determining perspective which can make jumping and attacking frustrating, especially when you miss your intended target or jump where you don’t want to jump. Every monster can run, jump, punch, kick, stomp, and crush, but each have different stats that determine how well they can do these things. Some monsters may not be able to run fast but can destroy buildings with ease. Other monsters may not be able to destroy buildings quickly but can move fast and jump high. You can switch out monsters in between city blocks and your favorite monster may not only come down to which one looks the coolest, but which one has the stats that fit your play style. You can climb buildings from the sides and even the front, smash windows, and acquire items from said windows like food and power-ups. Eating people and food normally provides you with health, although, some foods and toxic items can be harmful so you need to be careful. If a monster eats something it doesn’t like, it will usually puke. Sometimes you’ll smash a window and get burned, electrocuted, or even blown off the building from water. You can climb to the top of a building and just keep stomping or smashing down on it and after taking a certain amount of damage, the building will crumble to the ground. As you smash your way to worldwide destruction, you build up a Rampage Energy meter. When the meter is full you automatically enter Rampage mode where you move faster and I think your attacks to more damage until the energy meter drains. This meter is also drained when you use your roar attack or acquire the Instant Rampage power-up. The Speed Boost power-up just makes your monster move faster for a limited time. I do kind of wish there was more power-ups but it is what it is.

There’s four modes to play through. Campaign, King of the City, King of the World, and Timed Run. Campaign and Timed Run can be played solo or with friends but the King modes require more than one player. The campaign is where you can unlock new monsters and monster upgrades. Your ultimate goal in the campaign is to destroy each city and cause as much destruction as possible for a high score. You earn points for doing anything. You can acquire bonus points from point items in windows and earn combo points for destroying multiple rows of a building in one attack. You start the game with very few monsters and to unlock most of the roster, you have to find the cryo-tubes in specific cities with specific monsters. Now considering how many monsters are in this game, you could be playing this for a while if you want to unlock every monster. Unlike previous games, you’re not going to travel to over one hundred cities. Instead, there’s only seven cities here, each with multiple city blocks that need to be destroyed. These cities include Las Vegas, San Francisco, London, Los Angeles, Chicago, Hong Kong, and New York. You start in Las Vegas and must unlock each city by destroying the previous one. You have a specific amount of time to destroy each block which should never come down to the wire unless you really take your time. Every block has a challenge for you to complete. These involve things like eating a specific amount of a certain type of pedestrian, destroying specific things, or even eating specific foods. All of the challenges reward you with bonus points and some also reward you with monster upgrades. These include a charge punch, multi-spin, roar attack, and jump smash. Charge punch and jump smash are easily the most useful since they can make destroying buildings much less time consuming. Now each city does have a set of objectives that can be completed like all blocks destroyed which is obviously not very hard, all challenges met, all monsters revealed, and par points gained. The unlockable monsters, challenges, upgrades, and city objectives is what gives this game plenty of replay value but you really need to enjoy the repetitive gameplay to even care. Every monster starts with three lives and when you lose all of them, you’re not really punished. You have the option to restart from the current city block which is actually nice because some of the later cities can be a bit of a challenge. The last city block in each city contains a Scum Labs branded boss and they’re not really hard to take down. They’re more or less just a nuisance. The Timed Run mode is basically the campaign but the objective is to destroy each city block as fast as possible. You’re given no lives and can restart from the current city block if you die as long as you still have time. However, you only have to worry about the first city block because you can easily acquire bonus time for destroying a block and the remaining time just keeps stacking as you progress. The first city block is only somewhat of a challenge because you start with only three minutes.

Rampage: Total Destruction does offer a challenge, especially in the later cities. Just like in previous games, pedestrians will try and take you down, the police will always be on your ass, and you’ll even have to deal with military forces. Police cars and officers are easy enough to deal with but the SWAT team proves to be a bit more of a nuisance. When the military is called in, shit starts to get real. Later cities have police, SWAT, and soldiers attacking you from almost every direction with gunfire and even explosive projectiles. Helicopters will be shooting at you, some fire explosives, and it can be very easy to get overwhelmed. Most of the deadlier attacks will knock you down, even off of buildings. You’ll need to eat shit to regain health and if you’re not fast enough, you’ll lose a life and transform back into your human form. And later cities seem to have a lot more hazardous items in windows. Tanks also make a return as do bombers that fly overhead and drop bombs that can cause major damage. Pedestrians will drop shit from windows that can hit you in the head and if you eat anybody with a halo above their head, you get struck down by lightning. Apart from background changes and visual details, most of the cities feel the same. There’s normally several buildings placed next to each other and some blocks have buildings placed behind other buildings. Later cities like Chicago, Hong Kong, and New York have much taller buildings, making these cities take a bit longer to destroy.

I think it’s obvious that Rampage: Total Destruction looks much better than its predecessors. It still retains that cartoon-y look, the environments are colorful, and there’s actually an impressive amount of detail. Smoke rises with debris flying through the air as buildings crumble to the ground. Money, clothing, and other shit will rain down from the skies. You may notice birds flying around or congregating somewhere. The buildings, themselves, are distinguished thanks to legible signs and other small details to make them stand out in some way. For example, you’ll destroy banks, diners, hotels, houses, parking garages, and even other notable buildings and locations unique to each city. Royal Guards can be found in London. You can destroy Central Park in New York. Las Vegas is obviously filled with casinos. It’s these little things that can add enjoyment to the experience. Even though the cities feel the same, at least they look different. But I should mention the actual backgrounds which just look like low quality blurry images. On the audio side, the music is full of rock tracks that just repeat over and over. They’re catchy and all but the soundtrack is just as repetitive as the gameplay. Now the sound effects are actually pretty good. As you destroy buildings, you’ll hear stone break, glass shatter, alarms will go off, and people yelling and screaming for their lives. Now I’m a simple guy and laugh at stupid and offensive shit. So I find it somewhat humorous when the monsters belch and fart after they eat things. You can even press buttons at loading screens to make these noises. The pedestrian dialogue did made me chuckle a few times. Some pedestrians in London sound a lot like John Lennon and the soldiers sound like Arnold Schwarzenegger. Although, the dialogue does get repetitive since you’ll hear the same lines repeatedly no matter what city you’re in. The only technical issues I noticed is certain sound effects would briefly cut out when there’s a lot happening and I’m pretty sure the frame rate dips a little when there’s a lot of destruction happening on screen.

I can honestly say I did enjoy my time with Rampage: Total Destruction. It’s a fun title, just no very in depth. Sometimes I just enjoy mindless fun and that’s what this series has always offered and this is no exception. I’m glad I gave it more of a chance this time around, because the more I played, the more it grew on me. Yes, it’s repetitive and I can see many people quitting after destroying the first two cities. But this is the kind of game that’s best played with friends and/or if you’re just looking for a quick pleasure trip. Listening to monsters chew on innocent pedestrians, watching people running around and listening to them yelling and screaming as you destroy their world, buildings crumbling to the ground, there’s just something fun about the whole concept. It’s somewhat comical, a bit crude, and just silly, overall. I think Rampage is more about style than substance, but the substance that is here can be enjoyable. If playing as a giant monster and destroying the world doesn’t sound like fun, I don’t know what does. If you can enjoy the gameplay, there is plenty of replay value here thanks to the unlockable monsters, challenges, monster upgrades, and city objectives. There’s multiple game modes, half of which are multiplayer exclusive, and if you’re into score-based games, Rampage: Total Destruction did not forget the series arcade roots. And as an added bonus, Total Destruction includes both the original arcade game and World Tour. I thought that was pretty cool and it may be a saving grace if you really can’t get into the base game.

I don’t know if I would recommend Rampage: Total Destruction to everybody. I think I would only recommend it to fans of the series or to anyone who thinks this looks enjoyable. I’m going to say it again, this is just as repetitive as previous entries with a new coat of paint, and wonky controls. I do appreciate the developers trying something different here, but I have to admit, something is a bit off. World Tour and Universal Tour had a charm about them that Total Destruction just does not capture. I think it’s because the previous games offered a heavier arcade feeling or maybe it was the constant grind, hoping you don’t lose all of your lives because you realize how many hours you’ve just wasted playing, just to get to the end to earn that feeling of satisfaction. Crazy enough, I, honestly, prefer the hundreds of cities found in previous games to the city block stuff mainly because in previous games, it actually felt like you were destroying the world. But I do appreciate the improved feeling of progression found here since you’re not required to destroy all of the cities in one continuous run. Basically, if you think this looks like fun, I would say check it out since you can find it for pretty cheap now. And to Rampage fans that have never played this, just know it plays like Rampage but doesn’t always feel like Rampage, if that makes sense.

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