Rampage: Total Destruction Preview

We check out a near-finished version of Midway's monstrous action game.

Currently scheduled for release in April, Rampage: Total Destruction is an action game for the PlayStation 2 and the GameCube that bears more than a passing resemblance to the original Rampage arcade game--which celebrates its 20th birthday this year. In the game, you'll assume the role of one of 30 giant monsters looking to level major cities while feasting on their inhabitants and defending yourself from armed forces and such. We've recently received a near-finished PS2 version of the game and can report that the cities of Las Vegas, San Francisco, London, Los Angeles, Chicago, Hong Kong, and New York will never be the same again.

The options that you'll be greeted by the first time you play Rampage: Total Destruction include a campaign mode, two different multiplayer games (two players on the PS2, up to four on the GC), and timed run. Furthermore, if you take a moment to check out the bonus content menu, you'll find the arcade versions of Rampage and Rampage World Tour, as well as an NBA Ballers Phenom trailer. The campaign mode can be played either solo or cooperatively and tasks you with destroying each of the game's seven cities in turn. In addition to destroying all of the buildings in each campaign mission, you'll be given the opportunity to unlock four new abilities for your chosen monster by completing bonus objectives. The bonus objectives generally involve locating hidden items or eating certain people, and the new abilities you'll unlock--which are the same for each monster--include being able to perform multiple spin attacks during a single jump, charging up a powerful punch, and roaring so loudly that buildings and enemies in the immediate area take damage.

Rampage: Total Destruction's campaign mode is also where you'll unlock additional monsters if you manage to find them inside the buildings you're leveling. All of the monsters in the game have the same moves and control in exactly the same way, but their "crush," "jump," and "run" attributes vary just enough to make looking at them worthwhile. Monsters with poor jumping skills, for example, can have trouble dealing with army helicopters, while monsters with low crush ratings take longer to destroy buildings. Regardless of which monsters are your favorite, you'll likely want to play with them all at some point so you can unlock their special moves and have the maximum number of fully upgraded monsters as possible available for multiplayer games.

Regardless of which gameplay mode you're in, Rampage: Total Destruction plays in much the same way. There are multiple levels (or neighborhoods) to destroy in each city, and although they bear little resemblance to the real-life locations, you'll occasionally get to destroy caricatures of landmarks such as Grauman's Chinese Theater in Hollywood and famous Las Vegas hotels. Although the majority of the buildings that you'll be destroying look very similar regardless of which city you're supposed to be in, the cities do feel like the real-life locations in other ways. In London, for example, you'll be able to pick up and throw around red double-decker buses, while in New York and Los Angeles the most common vehicles are yellow cabs and limousines, respectively. The appearances and voices of the people in the cities also vary somewhat, as do the items that you'll find inside buildings.

Not all of the pick-up items in Total Destruction are beneficial.

When destroying a building, you'll notice lots of different items appearing inside, many of which you'll want to try and collect before the entire building collapses to the ground, destroying any items inside it in the process. Beneficial items that you'll come across in Rampage: Total Destruction include extra points, health-restoring food (including people), damage and score multipliers, and power-ups that increase your speed. On the flipside, there are poisonous items that reduce your health when eaten, electrical items that electrocute you, burst water mains that throw you to the ground, and enemy snipers that will shoot at you until you make a meal of them. Other miscellaneous items to look out for as you destroy cities include merry-go-rounds that the monsters can't keep their footing on and holy men with halos whose consumption won't go unpunished by the man upstairs.

Rampage: Total Destruction isn't a game that you'll be using to show off your console's visual or audio capabilities to friends, but its graphical style is easy on the eyes, and the sound effects are, if nothing else, occasionally amusing. Look out for our full review of Rampage: Total Destruction closer to the game's release next month.

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