The remedy for my minimum wage/teenage-rage malaise was found in an unlikely source: the 1986 Bally-Midway arcade game, Rampage. Long before Fight Club explored the roots of discontent within the young male psyche, the game demonstrated that leveling skyscrapers, punching subway cars, and chomping on innocent bystanders could offer a cathartic alternative to any real-world yearnings for petty vandalism. Although the game’s trio of mutants tried to remain relevant in subsequent years, Lizzie, Ralph, and George were unable to make a graceful transition into the third dimension- leaving a large gap in the “giant monsters who rip shit up”, genre.
Advantageously, a few of the developers at Bristol-based FuzzyLogic (Savage Moon) understand the notion that wanton destruction can be astonishingly therapeutic. The studio’s recent downloadable title, Eat Them! offers players the opportunity to transform into a ninety-foot tall behemoths tasked with leveling a series of urban landscapes. Mimicking the wanton devastation of a Godzilla film, gamers have the ability to stomp buildings, swat at helicopters, and eat as many fleeing humans as possible while evading an increasingly agitated military force. While these sequences are as satisfying as they are simple, they are inexplicably supplemented with requisite races, which feel as superfluous as the 2005 King Kong remake.
Eat Them! is most effective when the game keeps things focused on obliteration; the best stages either give players three minutes or a single life to create a such senseless mayhem as possible. Even the sporadic escort missions are fun thanks to the nefarious objectives, such as assisting a throng of orange-jumpsuit-clad prisoners escape from the city penitentiary. To prohibit the pandemonium from turning into tedium, the title requires each monster to nourish their rapid dwindling power meter. By following the directive issued by the game’s moniker, beasts can chomp on any nearby citizens with a press of the R2 button. Regrettably, Eat Them! simulates the ineptness of an outstretched tentacle- it’s not uncommon to reach into a group of helpless citizens and come up empty. Likewise, the title’s target reticule is a bit wonky- the cursor doesn’t always indicate the trajectory of your ordnance.
Of course, when the aforementioned races are required of players, one of the game’s best conventions is inverted. Instead of attempting to create the largest financial burden possible on each municipality, monsters are compelled to instigate as little collateral damage as possible; initiating too much destruction results in an automatic fail, castrating the game’s behemoths of their inalienable right to annihilate. Worse, these sequences aren’t much fun, expecting players to sprint across undersized regions- part of the challenge comes from identifying the next waypoint buried under the game’s user interface.
Perseverance on both the good and middling stages can result in a bronze, silver, or gold medal- with the top ranks unlocking additional monster parts. Along with the game’s selection of pre-configured creatures, players can create their own monstrosities from a robust selection of heads, torsos, arms, legs, and backs. Recalling a simplified version of Armored Core, each body part revises the weight, power, and durability of your monster, encouraging gamers to create specialized fiends for each type of game event. Impressively, this Frankenstein-like approach to creature construction doesn’t result in visual monstrosities- each cell-shaded appendage matches the game’s comic book inspired aesthetics. Although Eat Them! offers a local multiplayer component for up to four players, the title’s framerate can slow drastically.
While Eat Them! confidently satisfies the urge to crush cityscapes, a few rough edges and design designs detract from the title’s impish intentions. Although players obsessed with obliteration are likely to looks past the title’s problems, other potential purchasers may want to wait for a price drop before committing to this distinct title.