Rampage: Total Destruction Review
Posted by Sean Aaron
Still Rampaging after all these years...
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. To many who grew up watching Godzilla, 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.
A decade later an arcade sequel came out, Rampage World Tour, which updated the graphics, enlarged the size of the city street and added more moves to the characters. This was quickly ported to the consoles of the time; notably the Sony 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, a port of a game released on the Gamecube and PlayStation 2. If smashing buildings with a giant monster over and over again doesn't sound appealing, well, this isn't for you. If you're a fan of the original and the follow-up games, there's ample justification without the new game given the inclusion of excellent arcade-quality ports of Rampage and Rampage World Tour (controlled using the Remote NES-style) as bonus content. There's more Rampage action here than anyone could reasonably ask for!
The opening animated film sets the story; the quality of the animation and video is such you could think you were watching a feature: a group of people who participated in a Scum Labs soft drink taste test have mutated into monsters and now they're on the rampage!
The core gameplay is the same as 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 smash them out, naturally) or more easily by grabbing people and eating them.
Rampage Total Destruction differs from previous outings by adding a 3rd dimension such that your character can climb up the face of a building as well as the side, and can walk into the background a bit to get to other buildings and vehicles. Each city is divided into blocks and the next block can be seen in the background. 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 two off to each side and you cannot go further at either end. Every level has some kind of challenge to complete based around eating certain things or getting special tokens in order to earn bonus points and unlock special attacks. 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 can go to the next city (there's about a dozen in all).
Initially you have a choice of 8 monsters: the original three (George, Lizzie and Ralph) plus five new ones. There are many more to unlock by finding hidden cryo-tubes with more than two-dozen all told. Best of all at the end of every block you have the ability to switch monsters (different monsters are required to find the tubes for others so this is encouraged).
The controls aren't bad, but gesture implementation could have used a little more work. Whereas Rampage controlled with a stick and two buttons (jump and punch) and World Tour added a third (kick), Total Destruction has a large number of moves and until you get the hang of them, you might need to keep the manual handy or bring up the in-game control guide from the pause menu.
There's an option to use the Wii Remote alone using tilting motions to move your monster about, but this is quite impractical and it's better to attach the Nunchuk for simplicity's sake. The stick on the Nunchuk is used to move, B jumps and A has a number of functions. Swiping the Remote at a person or car on the ground picks them up. At its most basic A punches; pressing A with a person in your hand makes your character eat them and if you're holding a car pressing A will cause your monster to throw it (you can even throw cars at buildings -- cool!). If you're on the side of a building A punches the building; as in previous games holding the stick away from the building when punching swings your arm out to hit any pesky nearby helicopters.
Swiping the Remote left and right when on the side of a building causes you to do a wind-up punch which does more damage to the building than a normal one. Swinging the Remote down whilst on a building is supposed to deliver a kick to it, but the motion detection really needed some more tweaking and often you'll need to angle the downward motion to get the right effect or it will be detected as a sideways swipe. Likewise kicking something whilst on the ground (referred to as "punting" in the manual) is supposed to be motion down+A, but this rarely gets detected properly and often gets translated into a downward smash which is supposed to be a downward swipe. Thankfully you have the alternative mechanism of stick down+A which works more consistently. You can do jump kicks by pressing B and then A, double jump by pressing the B button twice and lastly do an in-air spin attack by waving the Remote after jumping.
Had the Nunchuk been integrated better into the game Z could have been used to kick which would have made life a lot easier; as veterans of World Tour know, kicking a building is the fastest way to bring it down. Still, the moves are pretty easy to pull off with the downward swipe being the only tricky one. In addition to your basic moves you can unlock special upgraded versions -- you need to do this separately for each character, so that encourages a bit of replay using them all. Lastly there's a RAMPAGE metre that builds up (it's also triggered by finding a special token); when in RAMPAGE mode you can use all special attacks for a limited amount of time which gives you a preview of the abilities you're trying to earn.
Visually the game is a huge improvement over previous ones with night time levels having some nice lighting effects. The characters are large, colourful and well-animated with details that make every character unique. Human characters are nicely detailed and animated and bonus items are large and easily recognised. Between blocks you're shown statistics on your performance while your character is visible from a forward angle making various movements before walking into the background to the next block.
The audio volume is a little on the low side, but good quality. You have the option to lower the volume of the music to emphasise the sound effects and voices, but you'll find yourself having to turn the volume up more than other games. There's a generic rock guitar soundtrack, the monsters make various roars and belches and the humans have amusing things to say (you never get tired of the cops saying "Take that you mutant!" before dispatching them).
The basic campaign described above is a one- or two-player game, but there are 1-4 player games (other players can be CPU-controlled for the friend-challenged) which have various win conditions and give you a chance to beat up on other monsters to get out some beastly aggression.
Rampage Total Destruction has some extra (slightly wonky) controls and better visuals, but it's still Rampage. If you enjoyed that game you're probably going to like this one as well; the inclusion of the original arcade games is a welcome bonus. If the original arcade game wasn't your cup of tea or the idea of smashing buildings over and over again doesn't appeal then you'll probably want to avoid it, but by now it can be had so cheap it just might be worth a punt.