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Game Over Online ~ Demolition Racer

GameOver Game Reviews - Demolition Racer (c) Infogrames, Reviewed by - Rhythm Scholar

Game & Publisher Demolition Racer (c) Infogrames
System Requirements Pentium 200, 32MB Ram, 4x CD-ROM
Overall Rating 52%
Date Published Wednesday, October 27th, 1999 at 08:55 PM


Divider Left By: Rhythm Scholar Divider Right

Alright.. at the time of writing this introduction I have not yet tried the new game 'Demolition Racer' from Infogrames, but I am very excited about it. This should be a game that I will enjoy for many, many hours. This is exactly the kind of game I love. It has racing cars and crashes! Well, it SHOULD have those two elements at least, if the names of games mean anything anymore these days. I did see a full page ad for this game a number of weeks ago in a gaming magazine. The ad featured a picture of a very wrecked racing car... so I'm pretty confident that at least I'll experience SOME sort of racing and crashing type situations. Given that, I am very excited. If this game is done well, it could end up being one of my favorite games to come out... ever. In the past, I have thoroughly enjoyed other games of this type, like Destruction Derby 1 and 2, Dethkarz, and even the Twisted Metal Trilogy. This game probably won’t feature any type of weapons, which is always a plus, but if there’s some hardcore metal ramming mayhem, I should be ok. I have just installed DirectX 7, which is absolutely needed to play this game, and the computer is prompting me to reboot... so I shall. When I get back to writing this, I hope to be in a state of extreme bliss having just played an instantly classic PC Smash-fest of a game.

Damn... Damn, Damn, Damn! Well, this game surely isn't as good as it could have been and nowhere as good as I had hoped. What makes software companies do this to great ideas? Here's me first impression as the game started to play... Oh God this looks like crap... These are the graphics? They were trying to make this game sound like a realistic racing and crashing event. These cars don’t look real at all. They look like toy cars... Toy cars with very little detail. All I know is that the gameplay on this better be... Someone kill me! THIS is Demolition Racer?!? These cars DRIVE like little toy cars... it's like some kind of RC demolition farce of a race!! NO! NO! This is all wrong... Let me play the real game... The one they say has the incredible intense 3D driving experience! This certainly isn’t it!

A bad first impression, which doesn’t get much better over extended playing.

The object of the Single Race and Tournament modes of Demolition Racer is to race against 15 other cars and try to rack up the most 'points' during the race to be placed among the top drivers. Points are given for various types of crashes and accident situations you make occur while you are driving. For example, you might only receive 10 points for lightly hitting a car from behind while you make your way around the track but you may be awarded 25 points for causing that car to also do a 360 after you have hit it. Plus, in some cases there are many points to be had for pulling off some very hard maneuvers. Try making a jump and landing on an opponent’s car. That move is called 'death from above' and will net you 500 points, almost always assuring you the chance to move on to the next race! This is one of the things that offers SOME type of fun while trying to get through the game. You are always aware that you have to ram other cars in order to get enough points to progress further into the game so you find yourself having to choose between situations that may yield you higher points, but that may also put you in worse situation for being able to finish the race. No matter how well you do with scoring points you are also going to need to finish the race in order for any of those points to count. Plus, as an added incentive to try to win the race as well as amass points for destruction, your points are multiplied by a number based on your placement in the race and it is THAT final number that determines whether or not you have done well enough to move on. Winning the race gets your point total multiplied by 25 whereas coming in 5th place only multiplies your points by 9. Because of this, coming in first should not always be your first priority... When I am able to stay within the top three cars for most of the race my points gained during the race are usually lower since I have had little contact with other cars way up in the front of the pack. Staying back a little for at least a couple laps really helps to rack up the needed points to keep you in the running after all of the drivers scores are multiplied. This can be a little frustrating when you see that somehow one of the computer racers has not only come in first place, but also has a huge original point total which, after multiplying by 25, is a score you can never hope to achieve during normal play. Having to mix your crashing skills with your driving skills is one of the aspects that keeps this horrible looking game somewhat interesting.

I am so disappointed in the graphics of this game. Not only are they not realistic looking as far as convincing the player that there's any metal or dirt or destruction or destroyed, dirty, metal but they are of poor quality as well. I hope that the designers did not consciously choose to make the game less realistic looking for kids or something stupid like that because it takes so much away from the look of the game. If you want to have a little chuckle while playing this game, look at one of the trees or a spectator or anything that lines the side of the track before a race begins... the bad graphics can't hide then. They are just sitting there, motionless, in all their blocky, pixellated glory.

Even if I could get past the below par graphics and just enjoy an experience which offers me some exceptional gameplay I'd be Ok, but this is not the case. The gameplay, like everything else about Demolition Racer, is very unrealistic and a bit annoying. Don't expect that the cars in these races will respond or react like any normal car would in a similar situation. The car-handling, collisions and physics of the game are far too 'loose' and 'light', if that makes any sense. What the game plays like, mostly, is some sort of an RC type racing game. The cars all seem to be like little toys in the way they react and interact with the environment. There's always some car flipping, flying, or darting around in a very unbelievable way. And trust me, I don't expect concrete realism when dealing with a game which depicts 16 cars pitted against each other in a race aimed at destruction, but it should at least not seem like the action you are watching and participating in has the same effect as taking two Hot Wheels car and ramming them together as fast as you can on your kitchen floor. If there were ever a time where any living person were subjected to most of the crashes depicted in this game... every bone in their body would be broken as they were bounced around the inside of the car as it spun like a top about forty times in five seconds. It becomes downright silly to see it happen so often.

Another main part of the game that needs a lot of work is the idea of damage, and the way it is handled within the game. Your car always starts off being in good shape and of course progressively gets worse throughout the race. Supposedly there is a concept of 'performance degradation', but it is not very obvious at all during the course of the game. No matter what damage level my car is at it always seems to handle and drive just fine. Any degradation that is taking place doesn’t ever seem to be relevant to my car's performance. The car looks more banged up, and the damage meter shows me that my car is on the way out, but it never feels that way while I’m driving, until I explode in a firey death. Plus, nothing EVER happens to any of the tires on any of the cars. They are always perfect. That alone to me seems like one of the biggest oversights in the whole idea of damage in this car demolition game. Tires would constantly be going flat or popping off if any of these races were actual events. In what we're given here, not even a hubcap goes flying. It was cool in a game like Midtown Madness where you found yourself riding on an obvious flat tire as your car neared the end of it's tolerance for the abuse you gave it throughout the game. In Destruction Derby, your tires would actually come off, causing you great difficulty in trying to steer your car from then on. Here, we have none of that. Your tires are always going to be perfect. In fact, they don’t even get dirty when racing through mud. Sad. The graphics of the car as it takes on more damage needs a lot of work too. Sure, the car appears to be a little more banged up as you continue to hit other cars and objects, but it's never a good-looking kinda banged up. The car always just gets a little more out of shape looking, and no particular type of incident offers you any kind of specific graphical reward. All of the cars seems to just take the same kind of visible damage, over and over. The programmers seem to have decided that the idea of the way the car looks while it is being destroyed is just some kind of a technicality they had to take care of with mediocre damage textures instead of having fun with the graphics of the cars being destroyed. Folks, this to me seems like one of the major things that this game should be about! Displaying the carnage of demolition racing should have been something to have a lot of fun with. Sure, when you play the game, you may think that it is cool to see your hood fly up and stay open for a lap or two while you continue racing... but it gets old rather quickly when it seems to happen every race. And, you're really going to start to hate that damned open hood when you find yourself in a pack of seven cars and they ALL have their hoods up! So much more could have been done in this area of the game that it really is a shame to see the way it has turned out. I would have enjoyed maybe even once in 20 races seeing the entire front end of a destroyed car torn off when it is hit at 80 mph by a passing car. Things like that would have made this game fun to play, over and over, just to see some new ideas and scenes of destruction. And perhaps, along with some new 'damage' graphics now and then they could have even thrown in a new horrible car-damage sound or something... Like maybe when your front end has taken a hell of a beating, your engine can sound like it's about to blow up or something. Or perhaps every once in a while there should just be some annoying rattle or banging from under the hood. Believe me, a car that would be subjected to this kind of torture wouldn't sound as nice as these cars do through the entire race.

There are other game modes in Demolition Racer to try to keep you entertained and excited about this title but basically every mode suffers from all of the negative things I have stated. It never seems all that fun to play the game in the shabby way in which it has been presented. As you progress, you also unlock more tracks, modes of play, and cars to keep things fresh, but nothing seems to work. Multiplay? You like multiplay? Well, so do I!! But... it seems the minds at Infogrames have decided that they don’t deem it necessary to offer us any type of multiplay option whatsoever. No Internet... No LAN... Not even a split-screen two player version. The worst thing about a missing multiplay option in this case is that this game NEEDS it! It needs SOMETHING, and multiplay may have been just the thing to give this game some added fun. Without it, you're left with just the one player games... which... well...

I expected so much more. I at least expected some type of more realistic looking graphics or car physics or something. I know that there are games out there that have gotten some of these ideas done right in the past. This game should at least be as good as the best parts of any driving/crashing game that have come before it. Driver, Destruction Derby... Damn, even Ironman's Super Off-Road from the stone-age of video games has more to offer. But no... I'm left with Demolition Racer and disappointment right from the start.

P.S. I have now played the game quite a bit. As I have stated before there are few redeeming qualities about this game. The only thing that makes me ever want to play it now is seeing how well I can mix my driving skills with me crashing skills to see what my final point score and placement is in the harder races. Now, you may see that as being what a good game is all about. That is a big part of what would make this game so wonderful if it were attached to a better all-around game but in this case it's not really fun to do... it's some bizarre personal challenge that has nothing to do with wanting to play it for being a fun game... I guess it's a little like playing Solitaire over and over and over... I don’t find the game of solitaire all that 'fun' to begin with and after a couple hours of not winning it's no longer about having a good time at what you're doing, but rather just wanting to win, once, to have some sense of accomplishment or something. I don't know what I'm trying to say exactly. I guess I just keep wishing that this was a game that was made differently... more fun... more something.

 

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Rating
52%
 

 

 
 

 

 

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