How do you redefine one of the simplest ideas in gaming to appeal to today’s audience? Simply put you leave it alone. For those of you lucky enough to be around when Rampage first hit arcades you will undoubtedly remember the visceral fun to be had by eating civilians and causing massive destruction on anything that got in your way. Take the best elements of giant monster movies such as King Kong and Godzilla add in a little cliché humor, and Rampage was the spawn of that, but how do you try and bring that simple game style into this generation of technology? The verdict is still out on that one my friends.
Now for those of you that are not familiar with the game play let me give you a quick rundown. Rampage was built on the traditional arcade quick-fix method which meant the game was designed to suck you in one quarter at a time. The premise is simple, guide you chosen monster, on the original you could choose George, the King Kong wannabe, Lizzie, think Godzilla, or Ralph the giant wolfman, and basically try to destroy as much as possible before being killed. Each level consisted of a few building mixed with cars and of course civilians to devour. There were also plenty of obstacles as you progressed such as military and even the dreaded hot sauce. Rampage was simple fun and that is how it should have stayed.
Total Destruction does build on these ideas, but not always for the best. The hardest thing to adapt to in this incarnation is the addition of 3D control. In the original game simply pressing up would cause your monster to traverse the building with ease, now you will find yourself constantly tapping up just to see if the building is climbable as you can now move into the background which becomes more convoluted than it really needs to be. Taking the simple idea of wanton destruction into a complicated control scheme makes for some frustrating game play.
Pounding on the buildings has also taken a hit so to speak. In the original game your character moved on an almost grid-like path that made knowing where to attack the building easy. With the new style you will attack the same destroyed area over and over until you manage to move your character just enough to interact with a fresh destructible piece. This makes the destruction take twice as long, which for a game built on a quick-fix mentality, it really suffers.
Not all of the fancy new duds are unbefitting to the franchise however; in fact some of them really compliment it well. For instance the new cities are really well designed and contain that Rampage charm we have all come to know and love. Little details like the casinos in Vegas or the trolleys in San Fran really add something to the world and even serve a purpose. Character upgrades are based on certain objectives throughout the levels so collecting certain items will grant your monster more powerful and destructive moves. Add this to the fact that the roster of characters has been upped from three to damn near thirty characters and you certainly have plenty of bang for your buck, it is just disappointing that the overall game play suffers as this game could have been one of the best party games released in a while.
Midway certainly deserves credit for trying to revive this franchise, in fact Total Destruction is packed so full of new features and additional content that it makes the package more than worth the 20 bucks it retails for. There are co-op modes, multi-player mini-games, and even two of the original Rampage titles all nicely tucked away on the disc. The problem is that the core game tries to be something it was never meant to be and that really drags the overall fun factor well below where it should be. It is hard for me not to recommend it simply because of how much the game offers for the price, but just expect a high learning curve when it comes to the game play as you will most likely venture into the realm of frustration more than once.