January 03, 2007 at 05:00 AM EST

An updated ”Rampage”: Worth playing?

Rampage: Total Destruction
(Midway; Everyone; PS2, GC)
Like the original Reagan-era arcade classic, this 2006 update hinges on one unchanging tenet of gaming: Smashing stuff is fun. The game’s objective is blindingly simple — destroy buildings and public property, eat some screaming victims, and try to avoid getting zapped by electric wires or shot at by pesky SWAT teams. (Oh, and avoid those cockroaches.) To their credit, Midway has done a nice job of freshening up the simple pleasures for the modern gamer: There’s a total of 30 cartoonish mosters to choose from, the nicely rendered neighborhoods are full of jokey details, and the cut scenes are actually kind of funny. And along with the classic grab-and-smash moves, each character has an arsenal of kicks, mid-air spins, and combo punches to make total destruction even more efficient.

But even the most sophomoric of gamers will grow tired of the ”Campaign” mode after a while. Each city has basically the same layout, and the special missions are simply repetitive. In Las Vegas, you eat mimes; in San Francisco, it’s bikers. Ehh. Some games just aren’t as fun on consoles as they are in the frenzied atmosphere of an arcade. After an hour or two of Total Destruction button-mashing, you’ll be ready to move on to Q-Bert. C+Michael Endelman


(Bethesda Softworks/2K Games; Teen; Xbox 360, PC)
It?s just so damned big. That?s what you?ll say after playing Oblivion for more than an hour. Or, for that matter, 50 hours. Sure, like any good D&D-style role-playing game, you can marvel at all the character generation possibilities (look, Ma…I?m an orc!) before embarking on the game?s ”main” quest: stemming the tide of a demonic invasion by setting the late emperor?s missing heir on the throne. Or, you can just wander. For weeks. Literally. The Oblivion world is vast, lushly rendered, and packed with enough side missions (wanna join the thieves guild, or fight vampires, or be a gladiator, or just be plain evil? Go for it) to keep gamers of every stripe satisfied. AMarc Bernardin

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