Beware the wrath of Ted Koppel!
Remember the first Rampage? You were a monster, pissed off at the world and hell-bent on destroying it. It was your prerogative, because, after all, you were freakin' huge. Rampage brought out the inner gaming child in all of us with fun multiplayer that capitalized on our destructive need to see buildings explode. Maybe the game represented the yuppie 80's of hostile takeovers, destructive business practices, and general tastelessness.
Well, the 80's are over and Rampage's time has come and gone. Of course, an update was made about a year ago called Rampage: World Tour, which was just the same old game with newer graphics. Now those money leeches at Midway have hoisted another version of Rampage upon us that still does nothing to improve upon this aging game. Rampage 2: Universal Tour is just an attempt to drain every last cent from the title and capitalize on nostalgic gamers and kids who don't know better.
You play as one of three new characters - a rat, a rhino, or a lobster. The differences between the characters are barely noticeable, and none of them have the same charm of the classic George, Lizzie, and Ralph. If you wanted those guys badly enough, you can earn them by playing through the game (or save yourself the trouble and look up the cheats). Why you'd want to waste so much time is beyond me, but if you're a Rampage freak, go for it. All the characters have a serious case of pink eye. Rather than look menacing, they all just look tired. In fact, everything about this game is simply that - tired.
You'll be glad (sad) to note the same old gameplay - fresh and exciting in the mid-80's, but not anymore. Climb buildings. Smash them down. Eat people. Smash more buildings. Jump on them. Same old hash, and everything ends up looking the same. In some cities there are landmarks in the background, but who really cares? You're always destroying the same looking buildings. What's the difference between Taipei and Kaoshiung? Hmm...one's darker than the other. Sheesh.
To destroy cities, you basically punch and kick buildings until they all fall down. You also have a 'special' move, which is a joke. You just run through the city screaming, and random pieces of building get destroyed. Meanwhile, some of the human attacks seem cheap; one of the tanks, for instance, keeps shooting and doesn't allow you to stand up and fight back. I may be a monster, but that's not very fair.
Unlike in earlier versions of Rampage, you now have a fixed number of continues. This makes the game much more difficult, which isn't necessarily good. What about those of us that enjoyed the unlimited continues? Why not make an option out of that? This gets particularly annoying in two-player mode, because as soon as you beat up your friend, you have to restart the game.
What about other play options? Different modes... new ideas... originality! But to create more options would have taken... creativity. What an exciting new concept! (Can you taste that sarcasm?)
Sound and graphics look like they've been recycled from the last Rampage. Sub-grade MIDIs, the same old sprites, and limited animations provide little for the eyes. For some reason, the Playstation version has pixelated characters. I don't see why this game should even be taxing on the processors. It could have been done just as well on the Super Nintendo.
The N64 version offers some sharper graphics overall, but the Playstation offers a little video of Ted Koppel in the opening. This opening was probably the only spark of creativity in the whole game. In a 'claymation-esque' short, Ted Koppel gives a news brief on the whereabouts of the former Rampage monsters. The opening contains a gape jawed, acerbic Koppel that is far more alive than his stone-faced, real-life counterpart. It's good for a one-time laugh.
There was a time when Rampage was fun. But even then, it got old. Today, the age lines are starting to run painfully deep. Jordache, cutoffs, and headbands were in once, but I don't think they'll be making a comeback. And neither should have this game.