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Rampage: Total Destruction (Wii) artwork

Rampage: Total Destruction (Wii) review

"Stomping down a building isnít a simple matter of pressing a button; you have to operate the Wii Remote like you might a hammer. Thatís fun for a minute or two, and then you realize that just waving your arm up and down to keep doing the same thing mashing a button might have done isnít particularly fun. Nor is whirling it around in a circle a hundred times, for that matter."

Rampage: Total Destruction was released several months back on the PlayStation 2 and GameCube platforms, but no one really seemed to notice. As a budget title available from day one for only $19.99, the game probably sold to a fair number of people who just go in and pick up cheap stuff in the hopes of a pleasant surprise, but it never reached broad appeal among the people who go online to talk about games. With the Wii versionís release, thatís definitely going to change.

Okay, so that was a lie. The Wii version wonít have much impact at all, actually. Thatís because, aside from a few slight differences (control being chief among them), it hasnít improved enough to warrant any new interest whatsoever.

Developed by Pipeworks, Rampage: Total Destruction is and always has been a game about simplicity and repetition. Following a humorous opening that explains why the monsters exist in the first place--they were taste testers for a spiffy new beverage called Scum Soda and something went awry--youíll get to choose which of the hulking beasts you want to control. Then, for reasons never made entirely clear, you will go on a rampage. Thatís where the game gets its name, and a title has never been more apt.

From the minute you first appear in front of a line of buildings, youíll get right to work. Pedestrians wander the streets beneath you (tasty and nutritious) while vehicles speed by and helicopters soar in the distance. Whether youíve chosen a giant chicken, mutated wolf, disgusting rat, a lizard, an ape or any number of other unlockable characters, youíll need to follow the same basic strategy: beat up the buildings and scarf down their inhabitants while avoiding the threat local police and military forces provide.

A building represents a challenge and it represents food. You can destroy one in any number of ways. Smashing open windows one at a time is a safe bet and will allow you to snack on life-restoring goodies like hamburgers and doughnuts, but it also leaves your rump open to mortar rounds fired by the over-zealous soldiers below. If you want to hurry things up a bit, thereís always the option of climbing straight to the top and then stomping the crap out of the buildings. Rows of plate glass windows will shatter and whole floors will buckle under your weight as you crush them for massive damage. The fact that you can do so as a killer crab only makes things that much better.

As you play, youíre constantly forced to make split-second decisions. If your life meter is waning, you might want to drop down to the street to gobble up the military guys, or the dude walking his dogs or the balloon vendor. Yet if you do, can you survive a hit or two from one of the men firing his pistol at you from the window? Take too much damage and youíll shrink down to a naked nerd and lose one of your remaining lives. Hold out too long because youíre afraid of the mass carnage below and you might still lose a life to bullets sent your way from the circling helicopters. Even climbing down just a few floors in hopes of finding a tasty treat there can be risky, since you might accidentally break open a water vein and get blasted with geysers. Or worse, you might stub your toe on a marquee and experience the intense pain of electricity flowing through your convulsing body. Stranger things have happened.

Thanks to solid visual design, the game is at first every bit as much fun as you might imagine. Itís hard not to enjoy watching your chosen monster pick some lady up off the street and toss her in his mouth. Some of the characters tell you what a mistake youíre making, too, like a man in a fancy suit who explains to you in a pompous digitized voice that you canít eat him because heís a lawyer. He goes well with the biker dude you ate several seconds before.

Fun though it may be to keep feasting on the pedestrians of the worldís great cities, the exercise can eventually grow tiresome. Buildings crumble in mostly the same way and it seems like you spend far too long in one location. Not only that, but the buildings donít look different enough from one another. Youíll be seeing carbon copies of the same few skyscrapers, broken up only occasionally by amusing signs. For each time you snicker at a sign advertising something like the Hard Luck Diner (complete with an oversized fork), youíll have to endure ten of the same dull skyscraper or storefront.

Pipeworks tried to break this up by giving you things to keep yourself busy. Stomping down a building isnít a simple matter of pressing a button; you have to operate the Wii Remote like you might a hammer. Thatís fun for a minute or two, and then you realize that just waving your arm up and down to keep doing the same thing mashing a button might have done isnít particularly fun. Nor is whirling it around in a circle a hundred times, for that matter. Even worse, some of the moves are inconsistent enough in their execution that you might try to pick up a pedestrian or automobile and find only thin air by the time the monster reacts to your commands. The design choice does make you feel more involved in the chaos, but thatís not always as positive as youíd think.

When you see Rampage: Total Destruction on the store shelf for only $30, it might seem like a fantastic deal. Youíll tell yourself itís a new game for a new system and worth every penny. But even if youíve liked Rampage games in the past, even if youíve had a really great time with them for hours on end, Total Destruction doesnít bring enough to the table to make it anything half as exciting as you might anticipate. Itís a good game when played in short spurts, or when you have friends over and you can all work together or against one another while the cities around you crumble before your wrath, but itís not one of those games youíll constantly find yourself returning to on a regular basis. If thereís a perfect rental, this is it.

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Staff review by Jason Venter (November 22, 2006)

Jason Venter has been playing games for 30 years, since discovering the Apple IIe version of Mario Bros. in his elementary school days. Now he writes about them, here at HonestGamers and also at other sites that agree to pay him for his words.

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