When Infogrames are blessed with driving games of the calibre of Rally Masters, it's a mystery as to why they bother with such lower division fare as this. Developed by Pitbull Syndicate, the team behind the non-renowned Test Drive 4 & 5, Demolition Racer wouldn't have looked out of place five years ago. The graphics are little better than a work-inprogress sketch, and it's the kind of thing that could easily be passed off as Shareware.
As the name might suggest, the wanton destruction of auto vehicles is the order of the day, and it occurs in a strictly rudimentary fashion, with a basic driving model and some simplistic effects. Clearly aimed at American non-gamers, it could tenuously be described as the Deer Hunterot racing games, in that it takes a redneck pastime and replicates it in a moron-proof fashion.
Essentially, Demolition Racer offers a similar experience to the ancient Destruction Derby, but unfortunately is inferior in almost every aspect. The various modes offer minor variations on the theme of damaging cars, and include Demolition Racing, where the goal is to stay alive and inflict as much damage as possible on your opponents, the self-explanatory Last Man Standing, some straightforward Stock Car Racing, and a Chicken mode against oncoming traffic. There's even a Suicide mode in which the first player to destroy his car wins. It might sound great on paper, but in reality Demolition Racer is a very weak game. For rednecks only.
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Previous attempts at combining racing and wrecking have all turned out mediocre experiences. Anyone remember the racing mode in Destruction Derby? I didn't think so. Somehow, Demolition Racer manages to integrate offensive driving with the thrill of seeing that checkered flag. The game is set up so that you absolutely have to ram other cars in order to win; this gives you plenty of goals to think about as you zip around the tracks. Since winners are determined on a point system, you'll lose even if you come in first but fail to score by nailing other cars. This concept is the game's biggest strength, but it also calls attention to some of Demolition Racer's weaknesses. The biggest problem is the game's inconsistent collision detection. Sometimes, you'll hit a car square on but there's no reward; other times, you'll accidentally cause a nasty pileup and get points you never knew you scored. This sort of frustration coupled with the fact that there are major camera bugs causes Demolition Racer to fall short of greatness. These camera bugs plague the game throughout each race. When you're hit hard, the camera tends to automatically change views as if the impact somehow jarred your PlayStation controller. It doesn't render the game unplayable, but it's distracting as hell. A little polish would have gone a long way here.
I love cars, I love racing games...but I don't normally dig the whole demolition derby thing. That said, DR actually endeared Itself to me a little after a while. The large courses give you plenty of room for action, and everything feels very fast-paced. As for multiplayer modes, there's an admirable spread, but the one that's the most fun is actually the simplest (Last Man Standing) and it brought back memories of the Psygnosis game from four years ago.
How do you spice up something as straightforward and simple as demolition derby racing? Add a style-based scoring system and cleverly placed power-ups, that's how. Demolition Racer is more exciting than any of the Destruction Derby games because you have flashy scores jumping at you everytime you do something cool, like smashing some hot rodder up against a concrete wall. Two-player, however, is glitchy and has too much pop-up.
I dig this game mostly because the destruction/rac-ing balance is just right. You can't win races unless you inflict the proper amount of damage and vice versa. Control is quite natural using the analog stick; It's on par with Driver in that regard (not quite as tight). Overall DR's not spectacular but it provides a fair amount of good gamin'. Two-player has one cool mode--Last Man Standing, the others are so-so. Take a look at DR if you like good destruction.
Accolade is entering the popular destruction derby genre, bringing the latest installment of driving mayhem to the PlayStation. In addition to its 16 cars and 12 tracks. Demolition Racer will have a variety of weather and road conditions. Plus, you can expect high-speed collisions and intense crashes throughout a series of events, including bowl matches, last-man standing, and stock car. demolition, and suicide racing. DR will also sport analog and Dual Shock compatibility, along with a two-player split-screen mode (something the Destruction Derby series lacks).
In this preview version, constant slowdown and loose controls hampered the action, while even severe damage didn't affect car performance. If Infogrames refines these major elements before the game's release. Demolition Racer could crash to the front of die racing pack.
It seems like just about every time you turn on the news, you hear about another case of road rage. I know that I personally can't count the number of times some jerk has cut me off or would not let me merge. I would have loved to just ram into them just to prove my point. Well, thanks to Infogrames and the developer of Test Drive 5, you can now live out this dream on your PSX. In fact, the more you smash the guy next to you, the better chance you have of winning. So if you are looking for a way to bleed off some of that road rage, this might just be the game for you.
Demolition Racer is a no holds barred, smash 'em up racing game. The game features real-time car damage, fire, huge collisions, ten tracks, tons of gameplay modes, and a cool scoring system that will keep you coming back for more. I hear that some of the developers who worked on Destruction Derby 2 had a hand in this game. If this is not true, they did a great job of imitating aspects of that game. So if you enjoyed the Destruction Derby games, you are sure to enjoy this.
Let me get right to the point about Demolition Racer. I thought it was a fun game to play. It is not the prettiest game around but it is still a blast. You can round up your buddies for a night of two-player smash 'em up and you will get quite a few hours of the game. So there you have it. If you want to stop reading now, you know how I feel about the game. If you care to read about the specifics of what I liked and did not like, continue on.
The first thing that really sticks out to me in this game is the number of different modes you can play. I played the majority of games in the Demolition League. This has you start off with the beginners league and work your way through the races. You only have to place fifth in points (more on this a bit later) to continue on to the next race. Once you finish all of the races, you will open up the Semi-Pro League. In this league, you have to finish in at least third place in points to move on. After clearing all of these races, you open up the Pro League. This makes you come in first place on every race to advance. To make it more difficult, you can only choose from one of the cars. If you manage to beat this, the Endurance League opens up. I have not opened this up yet so I am not totally sure what makes it different (I'm almost there).
The different leagues are only one part of the game. There is a totally different type of racing in here as well, found under Single Race. You can race a demolition, which is just a single race version of a League race. Nothing different there. The first mode that is different is called The Chase. The point of this race is to finish the race in first place (points do not matter). This requires you to actually avoid contact. The next mode is called Chicken. This has you racing on a track with racers going in opposite directions. You can slam into other racers to slow them down but the ultimate goal is crossing the finish line first. The next mode is called Last Man Standing. For those of you who cannot figure it out, the object of this is to be the last running vehicle. You will get points for smashing other cars but the objective is to keep your car running. The last mode is called Suicide. This is the exact opposite as the last mode. The object of this mode is to be the fastest to total your car. The point is, there are enough modes in this game that they could have almost broken it out into two separate games.
Okay, I keep talking about points so I guess that is what I should explain next. During the races, you will score points by inflicting damage on other racers. There are a number of different ways to score points and they range anywhere from five up to 65 (that was the highest I remember seeing but the manual does say that you can land on top of a car and get a one-hit kill and score big points). So in League Racing, there are two objectives -- scoring points and crossing the finish line in a high position. Why does crossing the finish line in a high position matter? Because at the end of the race, your points are multiplied by a magnifier that is determined by your finishing position. For example, if you finish in first place, your total points will be multiplied by 25. If you finish if third place, your points are multiplied by 20, etc. This made it so you actually had to seek out confrontations and collisions because if you just raced ahead of the pack and won first place, you would still not win the race because your points would be too low. This was such a great way to encourage contact. The bottom line is that if you want to win, you have to smash other cars.
Now you are probably thinking that this sounds easy enough. Just smash cars on your way around the track and you should clean up. Not always true. See, smashing your car actually does damage to it. You have a little damage meter that tells you how much more damage your car can take. Oh yeah, did I mention the other cars are trying to ram you as well? The tricky part is finding a good balance of racing and smashing so you can finish high enough with enough points to win. If you go all out trying to just score points, you will either total your car before the end of the race or you will finish the race too low and your multiplier will be too low. The game does have an option where you can turn on power-ups. There are boxes placed on the track that would fix some of the damage to your car, make you invincible for a short period or just give you points. There is also an exploding box so you need to be careful. I actually liked playing with the power-ups because they did a great job of placing them on the tracks in out of the way locations. They are not easy to get and you will usually wind up paying in lost time for getting them. Plus, they helped keep me aggressive throughout the entire race.
I do have a couple of complaints with the game. Nothing really major but they still bothered me a little. First, I never felt like I got nailed as hard as I nailed the computer-controlled opponents. I would ram them and send them flying in huge spins and rolls. This very rarely happened to me when I got hit. There were a few occasions when I would get rammed into a wall but nothing like the hurt I put on the other people. Half of the fun is getting slammed yourself. Another minor complaint is that the controls could be a bit touchy,. They were not bad but they were just a little bit on the touchy side. Finally, I was disappointed because they show all of the locked cars right up front. I like winning and being surprised to see what I get next. This took the whole surprise away. Not huge complaints but complaints nonetheless.
This is a tough area to cover. First off, from a distance, this game is not the best looking one out there. The textures are dull and pixilated. The cars have very low details. On the other hand, some of the effects in the game totally rock. Cars catch on fire and black smoke will plume out of the engine of your car, making it difficult to see. Car parts are constantly flying and cars show real-time damage. This was incredible and well worth the lack of any license just to be able to show this damage. I guess I would have to call the graphics a mixed bag but the gameplay and cool effects will help you tolerate them. I just hope that Test Drive 6 looks a lot better.
If you are looking for a different take on the crowded racing genre, this is not a bad choice. There are plenty of modes to keep you playing for a while. If you can look past the plain graphics, you will find a fun game with cool effects. So next time that guy cuts you off in traffic, just smile, head home and pop in this game. It will help -- trust me.
Snapshots and Media
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