Is that transmission fluid or blood?
Ahh...the satisfying sound of steel against steel, the joy of watching pieces of Detroit scatter as the other guy smashes head first into the center divide. Blood, carnage, and mayhem, all for the sake of getting home before 6:30. Yeah, the folks at Psygnosis (R.I.P) really knew how to touch our hearts. By giving us an avenue to vent our commute frustrations and keep our insurance premiums within reason, they created a series of games that is both fun and therapeutic.
I have been a fan of the Destruction Derby series from the beginning...yes, even the first one. It has always held a certain charm, crashing into other drivers at high speeds. Midway is the proud new owner of this underrated license, and finally have released this latest version.
Unlike a lot of games, Destruction Derby has improved with each sequel. Improved graphics, more cars, and several new modes are among the upgrades that Destruction Derby Raw has to offer.
The new courses offer new challenges; elements like mud and snow that affect the handling of the car make for more wrecks than ever. Barreling down an icy snow bank into a 90 degree turn has never been so much fun. I guess it's good practice for those long drives back from Tahoe next winter.
Graphically, DD Raw reminds me of a poor man's Gran Turismo: fairly gritty, yet the high framerates keep it feeling smooth. The cars reflect some of the lighting and track elements and show damage as it occurs. If you stop long enough to focus, background objects like the spectators and trees are very flat and dumpy. But for the most part DD Raw is pretty absorbing, and the subpar backgrounds pass by largely unnoticed.
The control is great. Power slides and CHP style "reverse U-turns" are essential and easy to pull off. As the game progresses and your car acquires damage, the performance goes down. Tear up your front end from ramming too many others (or guardrails, if you suck) and your turning radius drops to about a quarter of what it once was. If you destroy just one side, your car pulls to the side, making it really hard to accelerate or steer around the track. This adds a very realistic touch, and is part of what makes DD Raw a fun romp.
There are two main race modes: "Smash 4 $" and "Wreckin' Racin'." Smash 4 $ earns you cash with which you may purchase new cars or repair the one you have. Wreckin' Racin' is the typical tournament to win all of the races in a series. The track progression is laid out into a branching tree, so you choose which track to race next.
As gaming advances, we expect more and more from our games; we need a reason to play beyond the first time around, so developers add tons of extra modes to keep our ADHD generation focused. DD Raw adds several new modes to a game that is already a blast.
"Pass da Bomb" is a game of Hot Potato, where a stick of dynamite is passed by smashing into your opponent. The clock resets each time it is passed; hold it for too long and it's curtains. Other new modes are "Skyscraper" where, for some inexplicable reason, everyone meets on the roof of a building. Needless to say, it is easy to fall off and they don't provide parachutes. "Battle" mode is a brief last man standing scenario. Add to this a few new iterations of classic Destruction Derby, and you've got a lot to chew on.
They left a few cool things out of Raw that I liked about DD2; namely, wheels that fall off (leaving a trail of sparks and really screwing up the control) and the one hit kill. Now landing on top of another car simply causes a little damage instead of instantly destroying them and gaining a hefty bonus. But the thing I miss the most is the old announcer that sounded just like Bob Ueker. He ruled.
In these waning days of the Playstation, I can't help but wish this game came out on a more powerful system. The amount of stuff crammed in here takes its toll on the processing power, though it still holds up pretty well. Next time the PS2, perhaps?
All in all, Destruction Derby Raw is a winner. It's nice seeing a sequel that's actually an improvement rather than just another name in a franchise.