You're revving your engine as the stoplight begins to dwindle down to a green "go" and your heart pounds loudly like never before. It's off to the finish line as you're about to embark on a one-way street -- total demolition. Jumping on the Destruction Derby bandwagon comes the much improved yet still buggy Demolition Racer for the Windows platform. The game engine is as smooth and silky as a luxury sedan and as fast and furious as a NASCAR speedster. It's a little too fast, in fact. You just don't know where you are at times.
The game features powerful physics used for the collisions, although there is one contradiction -- horrible collision detection problems don't mix with an effective physics engine. That's right, cars fly through each other more often than you'd want to see. In fact, you wouldn't want to see any at all for that matter. But when cars do hit each other (which is most of the time, fortunately), smoke, fire, wobbly tires and flying hoods become commonplace using the game's cumulative "Real-time Damage" effects.
Destruction occurs on ten wild tracks: USS Demolition, Redneck Raceway, Freeway Driveby, Pitbull Speedway, Meltdown, Hunters Quarry, Parking Lot Pile-Up, Chemical Plant, Scrap Heap, and Go Kart Carnage. The three derby bowls are Lyon Stadium, Pelton Stadium, and in the home city of Infogrames, San Jose Stadium. If you place first in different events in Demolition League, you will unlock tracks for single player mode. The following list of game types are sure to get you in that demolishing mood:
The Demolition's goal is to complete the race with a working vehicle while crunching others. The Chase game has you just going for the finish line while the Chicken is a race where the other racers are driving against your traffic. Last Man Standing has you smashing your opponents in the derby bowl as you avoid others smashing into you. And, last but not least, there's the Suicide bowl game with a difference -- do the most damage to yourself in the least amount of time until you're a dead sitting duck.
Replays exist in the game but for some reason there is only one camera view in the Derby Mode! This is not an impressive feature or a practical one because, simply put, most people want the choice of watching their replays from different angles, especially inside a derby bowl. If there is various angle switching during gameplay then why not during replays? If there were, it would've been nice to watch that top-down, bird's eye view while in replay heaven.
Graphics-wise the game is superior to that of Destruction Derby and its sequel Destruction Derby 2, however, the cars are less realistic-looking with solid colors that aren't exactly dynamic. Sure, there are lens flare effects, black smoke, crispy fire, sparks and dented metal but it's almost like putting Hot Wheels cars on top of a Need for Speed backdrop. Well, there is the nice live-motion video of a car exploding in flames whenever you lose a race.
Sound effects couldn't be better in a demolition game with screeching metal flying in all directions, popping tires like they were helium balloons and the shattering of glass like no other traffic accident. The music is loud with some cool heavy metal. Now if they only had voices...
Movement is fairly standard with some basic controls similar to that of most racing type games but at times I found it hard to see where I was going. Perhaps this has to do with the camera angle but even in the nice bird's eye view it just didn't help. The best part about driving the cars is the skidding because you can burn out and do a 180 like in the Dukes of Hazzard show. The fact that the cars can flip all over the place with their hoods smashed, roofs punctured, hubcaps flying and flames going off in specific areas -- all at lightning speed -- is testament to this game's powerful destruction system that tops Destruction Derby's.
One annoyance is the fact that you have to double-click each option in the menus. Why double-click?
So if you've never played anything like Destruction Derby, you'll want to get your hands on Demolition Racer, otherwise it'd probably be best to borrow a copy to play it for kicks. It doesn't have that ultra-realistic edge like DD had but it sure is a lot faster and smoother!
Graphics: Colorful graphics, fast and smooth animation, and cool effects. It's too bad the cars don't match the background.
Sound: Sweet crunching sounds of high impact. Hard, edgy music. But no voices, unfortunately.
Enjoyment: It was pretty fun with all the quickness and raw destruction. But it's been done before.
Replay Value: This is a racer, right? This is destruction, right? Well let the game do all the talking. Except for the one camera angle during the Derby Mode's replay, of course.
People who downloaded Demolition Racer have also downloaded:
Dirt Track Racing, Dirt Track Racing: Sprint Cars, Daytona USA: Deluxe, Dukes of Hazzard, The: Racing for Home, Daytona USA, Driver (a.k.a. Driver: You Are the Wheelman), Crazy Taxi, Disney/Pixar Cars
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