Rampage: Total Destruction is the latest offering in the long standing Rampage franchise from Mortal Kombat creators, Midway. The idea is simple: take control of an oversized mutant and pound the snot out of a city block, Godzilla style. While this simplistic approach worked well back in the heady days of 80’s arcades, one has to question whether or not it can hold up against today’s more, uhh, cerebral offerings.
At its core, it is a beat ‘em up, where you lay the smack down on buildings rather than an actual opponent. It is almost the videogame equivalent of popping bubble wrap – inane yet so very nearly close to satisfying that you find yourself doing it regardless. Once you have selected which monster you would like to wreak havoc with, you start on your journey of demolishing cities, one block at a time. The play area is essentially 2D (although there is a little 3D movement). Each level is relatively small, and you are given a time limit to destroy everything. There are bonus goals (eat five skaters, destroy eight trams etc) that give you bonus points (how old school is that?!) and often these bonuses will unlock new methods for your own unique take on urban remodelling.
There is quite a bit of game on offer here, with a ton of levels strewn between several cities the world over, and 30 different monsters to discover and wreak havoc with. While the backdrops tend to get a little samey and repetitive, the sheer quantity of playable characters helps to keep things fresh, with each having their own quirks and unlockable set of moves. Rampage always has been about hitting stuff. Repeatedly. And it is this repetition that in equal parts gives this game its charm and leads to its downfall. It is refreshing to play a game where you aren’t constantly checking mission goals or wondering about what you have to do next, yet the basic and repetitive combat soon leads to yawns. It is not so much about the limited quantity of attacks on offer, more the fact that they don’t seem to gel – there is no combo system to speak of so the player never feels rewarded for button tapping ninjitsu.
Happily there is the opportunity to team up with a friend and bash the hell out of buildings (or each other), and this is undoubtedly the games strongest asset. You can work co-operatively in the story mode, or go competitively in ‘king of the city’ or ‘king of the world’ modes. Taking time out from stomping on pedestrians to slap your buddy on the back of the head is a hoot, particularly when you are supposed to be co-operating. To be fair, I doubt that Rampage was ever envisioned to be a world changing masterpiece that would dominate gamers
minds from now until kingdom come, rather it seems suited to being a fun diversion, to be played in relatively short bursts. To this end, this game succeeds, at least partially.