CHICAGO--Midway had a short playable demo of its upcoming rebirth of the Rampage series, Total Destruction Hands-On, running on the PlayStation at its press event today. The upcoming game brings Lizzie the gargantuan lizard, Ralph the enormous wolf, and George the massive ape back for a new round of demolition and mayhem. This time out Eugene, Oregon-based Pipe Works, whose 3D Godzilla fighters were highlights in the giant radioactive lizard's embarrassing foray into video games, is handling development for the new title. Though the demo was modest in scope, since the game isn't due for a while, it certainly showed a lot of potential, mixing the classic "smash and trash" gameplay of the original with a 3D makeover.
The demo featured just two controllable characters, old-school fave George the giant ape, and a new face, a merman who clearly had some relation to the Creature From the Black Lagoon. Your task was, wait for it, to demolish all the buildings around you. However, the city you'll be leveling offered a richer environment to destroy thanks to its layout, which featured layers of structures to mash.
While the game's appearance may be different, the actual gameplay mechanics are in line with Rampage standards. You'll be able to punch buildings and climb up them and bash them from the top down. In addition, you can use cars you pick up as blunt objects to speed up your destroying. A secondary meter onscreen lets you power yourself up so you can do more damage for a limited time. As before, you can chomp on civilians running from the building for dear life to keep yourself healthy and entertained. But you won't have free rein over the city, as local military forces will be on hand to try to stop you (emphasis on "try"). The demo pitted us against armed soldiers, tanks, and helicopters that attempted to stop us. As you'd expect, it didn't go so well for them. On the other hand, we leveled a few city blocks real good. At the moment, despite the game's 3D look, the gameplay still unfolds on a 2D plane. The 3D elements we saw appeared to tie in to the layers of the city you could destroy.
The visuals have a definite charm to them thanks to a promising mix of 2D and 3D presentation. The characters have been given a proper 3D makeover and feature detailed character models. George still looks like his sprite-filled debut in the arcades. However, his new polygonal look is obviously sleeker. The ape's face was expressive, and his animation already had some nice touches to it, such as the way his fur bristled and the way his chewing animation appeared. The great ape's partner in crime, the blue-greenish mer-creature, looked cool too, thanks to a sheen to his skin and the way his fins moved as he went about his business.
The audio in the early version of the game was still very much bare-bones. Stomping and smashing yielded a solid amount of effects, as did weapons fire from the army and running civilians. George and his finny friend had decent enough roars, but we expect them--and the rest of the audio--to improve as development on the game progresses.
Although the demo was just a modest sampling of what the final game is going to offer, it certainly proved that Pipe Works is headed in a good direction. The demo hit all the right notes you'd expect from a Rampage game, and the demolition, destruction, and climbing of buildings were all on respectable display (as was the usual humor). We'll be anxious to see how the game comes together, as the scope of the 3D treatment and the additional monster mechanics have a lot of potential. Rampage: Total Destruction is slated to ship in spring of 2006. Look for more on the game as it becomes available.