Driving Miss Daisy crazy.
I hate being late. Whenever I get a little behind schedule, the first thing I
do is drive faster. Of course, doing so puts me, others, and my precious car at
risk. What would happen if I had an accident? Am I safe, scooting along the freeway
in my little tin box at excessive speeds?
Well, thanks to the wonders of modern technology, we have crash simulators
available to the general public for home use. The latest comes in the form of
Demolition Racer: No Exit for the Dreamcast. Frankly, I'm not as concerned
with crashing as I was before I 'ran the simulator' (or 'played the game,' whichever
you prefer.) There are no real repercussions other than dents in your car and
the act of crashing becomes rather exhilarating.
While the Playstation version turned out to be a horrible game, Demolition
Racer for the Dreamcast is just the opposite. I'm not exactly sure if it's
the Dreamcast's better graphics (I would hope that I'm not that shallow) or
the new game modes that make this version more fun. All I know is that Demolition
Racer: No Exit is a solid, entertaining game.
The premise is simple: drive really fast and crash into your opponents for
the maximum amount of points, which are tallied by the severity of the damage
you do to other cars. Also, the higher you finish in the rankings, the more
your 'points multiplier' will be. Just remember that reckless driving alone
won't cut it, and fast driving alone also falls a little short of victory. Nope,
to win this race you need to drive recklessly fast!
As you climb the leader board and emerge victorious in the various leagues,
more tracks and cars are unlocked, as well as a variety of mini-games. It's
not easy, though, since the competition gets pretty stiff. Initially, you'll
pass rounds with a performance of third or better, but later in the game, only
first will do.
In addition, Demolition Racer: No Exit comes packed with a bunch of
mini-games. Two of the best are "DR Football," a silly little game
where you push a crate around a football field, and "Big Car Hunter,"
which surprisingly supports the DC light gun. This game puts you in the middle
of an arena with cars barreling in your direction at high speeds.Your goal?
Shoot 'em! It's about the strangest mode I've ever seen in a racer, but it's
actually pretty fun.
There are a bunch of other odd mini-games, like "Tossers," where you use a
catapult to lob cars at one another. Plenty of gameplay variety, to say the
DR: NE is up to par with most DC stuff out currently out on the market.
Though the textures are bland, the tracks look good and the game runs smoothly.
The damage modeling is done nicely, with car parts flying off left and right.
Fortunately, Infogrames revamped the control for the Dreamcast release. Cars
handle just fine - until you do so much damage to your car that it can barely
turn. Sliding around corners and into your opponents is a breeze. Thanks in
part to the design of the DC controller (the analog front trigger buttons are
perfect for gas and brake), the controls overall feel very fluid.
Although there are no pit stops, there are power-ups (and downs) scattered
across the tracks. You can grab a shield, a repair, and even add (or subtract)
points from your score. You've also gotta watch out for the TNT crates; these
things are everywhere, and usually in unavoidable spots. The brainiac who placed
them on the track must be related to the McVeigh family, because there's enough
to take out half of Oklahoma City, not to mention total your little car. It's
kind of frustrating having to constantly avoid these crates when your main objective
is to smash into other cars.
While the game offers good dose of initial fun, it gets old rather quickly.
Smashing into things gets redundant, and aside from unlocking new tracks and
cars, there isn't much to do in terms of depth. Frankly, you won't be in front
of this game for hours at a sitting.
Having played the disappointing PSX version, I went into this review with
reservations. However, Demolition Racer: No Exit turns out much better,
with sharp graphics, solid gameplay, and some of the most creative mini-games
to sprout from a driving game. If you like sheer pointless destruction and your
dad won't give you his car keys, then DR: NE is the next best thing.