Do you remember all the fun you had playing the original Rampage? You played as Lizzy, Ralph, or George, three genetically altered monsters who had fun destroying buildings, eating people, and getting shot by the military. Rampage 2: Universal Tour takes that fondly remembered game and does absolutely nothing with it.
This time, you play as one of three brand-new monsters: Boris, a super-strong but slow Rhino, Ruby, a giant fish-eating lobster, or Curtis, a huge bucktoothed rat. Your new mission is to survive the drudgery of seemingly endless levels in an attempt to free the cast of the original game - George in New York, Lizzy in Tokyo, and Ralph in London (how fitting). To rescue each monster, you must maintain your sanity through 25 levels as you meander toward the cities where the monsters are kept. Once you free all three, you're rewarded by an alien invasion. Without skipping a beat, you're back to destroying level after level, eating people, and destroying buildings to save the world.
The gameplay is frustrating, to say the least. Every city looks similar, has at least one military ground vehicle, and what seems like a slew of randomly generated people, power-ups, and enemies. Helicopters shoot at you, planes drop bombs, people in buildings throw dynamite, and the infantry squeezes rounds in your direction. You climb buildings, eat people, and destroy everything in your path. Gone are some of the best moves from the original: You can't punch a building while you're climbing on the side of the one next to it; you can't punch in a downward direction as you move down a building; and you can't capture the beautiful lady and climb to the peak of your building. In place of these moves, you can now take out entire floors by jumping on them or kicking them, and you can climb to the top of the building and punch downward. You now have a super-bar, that fills up a percentage for every power-up or human you eat. When it's full, you can perform a character-specific super attack. Instead of playing until your health runs out and you turn into your human self, you're simply allotted a certain number of lives, and you go from one to the next without halting the pace. You can save your game every few levels, but this may as well be omitted, as you resume your game exactly as you left it. This means if you were playing with your friend and got to the last level, you'd have to resume that game as a two-player game with exactly the same character, number of lives, and health as when you left off.
The graphics are enough to get on your nerves. Everything in the game has a nicely done clay-like look. While your characters and buildings are well rendered, they are easily forgettable, as nothing changes between from level to level. Though the game uses different architectural styling on different continents, you'll see the same buildings used over and over within the 25 levels on that continent. Backgrounds for important cities have landmarks, but, since you can't topple them, they don't make much of an impression. Once you're combating aliens, the buildings don't change much, but the helicopters turn into hovercrafts, and the tanks turn into spider-like things. Between cities, you get to see a lame Indiana Jones-esque "moving on" sequence that traces your path around the world. While the opening FMV is nicely done, the few scenes sprinkled throughout the game are horrid. Admittedly, there are some interesting things thrown in if you look hard enough: Some soldiers shoot mortars, some pedestrians juggle, people leaning out windows slip and fall, but the monster-truck is always green, and the semi-truck is always white.
Sonically, this game hurts. Cheesy guitar rock played by what sounds like an undiscovered garage band fills the soundtrack, and the noise is broken up only by the screeching screams from your victims. All the buildings make the same sound when you punch them, people make the same satisfying crunch when you eat them, and helicopters make the same machine-gun noise when they shoot at you. Control is nice enough. You can jump, punch, and kick with ease, although you'll find yourself sticking to jumping atop buildings and punching.
While it bills itself as Rampage 2, Universal Tour is little else than a clone of Rampage: World Tour with different characters and a plotline. Forcing you to take on 73 levels until you even get to the "fun" of kicking alien tail makes the game almost unplayable. Playing this game made me feel as though I had been awake too long, and the level after level of unrefreshing gameplay took me to an almost giddy state in which my only want was to turn off my PlayStation and get as far away from it as possible. While the three-player option is almost enough to make it worth a rental for reminiscing gamers who own a multi-tap, this game truly makes me wonder if the original was really that much fun or if I was just too young to care.