Destruction Derby  March 1996
Publisher: Sony Interactive   Developer: Psygnosis   Required: Double-speed CD-ROM drive; 486DX; 8MB RAM; 25MB hard-drive space   We Recommend: Pentium; Joystick or steering wheel; Supported sound card   Multi-player Options:   

If those after-work traffic jams have left you cold, and you’re looking for a little excitement to take the edge off, this could be your game. Destruction Derby is a wild dose of racing madness, with enough wrecks, smoke, and squealing tires to satisfy the demon driver that lurks inside all of us.

I spend most of my computer time behind a steering wheel, trying to take the checkered flag in serious sims like NASCAR Racing or IndyCar Racing, but Sony’s Destruction Derby delivered so much hard-drivin’ action that it pulled me off of the NASCAR circuit and had me locking bumpers with 3000 pounds of screaming metal within moments. Usually, a driver’s goal in a race is to avoid wrecks, but in Destruction Derby, wrecking your opponents is the name of the game.

Part of what makes Destruction Derby such a treat are the spectacular visuals that bring to life the most jarring collisions I’ve seen on a computer. Pieces fly from the cars as they slam together, and impacts send cars sliding very realistically. The damage is depicted beautifully, with dented doors and crumpled fenders that look just right.

But there’s much more here than just eye candy; as you crash into your opponents, each car sustains damage, and their performance suffers. They don’t steer as well; they lose speed, blow smoke, and overheat when the radiator gets smashed. Abuse them enough, and they finally sputter to a halt. By the end of a race, the track is littered with their twisted remains.

To add a little variety to the action, you can choose from four traditional racetracks and The Bowl, an huge circle of asphalt where you slug it out in the Destruction Derby itself. Somewhat surprisingly, these demolition derbies are pretty realistic. You can’t just mindlessly smash into other cars; this is thinking man’s destruction. Too many head-on collisions, and you’ll quickly smash your radiator; then it’s only a matter of time until your ride quits running. To survive these wreck-fests, you have to throw it into reverse and hunt for something to hit.

This attention to damage is a nice touch of realism that adds to the otherwise unadulterated arcade fun. The downside to the arcade stuff is that, even when at the highest level of difficulty, it’s no real challenge to win on any track. There’s a points championship to be won, too, complete with a full field of opponents with wacky names. But like the individual races, it’s too easy to win the series, even at the toughest difficulty level.

But these little problems aren’t nearly enough to wreck the fun this game can provide. Kids -- real ones, and older ones like me -- will love Destruction Derby. It’s easy to jump into the driver’s seat and start racin’ and wreckin’, and the sheer fun of watching cars turn to smoking heaps is instantly addictive. I just don’t want to be on the road when the kids who learn to drive from this game get their licenses.

--Lee Buchanan

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Did you have a bad day? Then head for The Bowl and take out your frustrations in a demolition derby. No racing here, just survival of the fittest.

Car damage shows up beautifully, with dents, crumpled fenders, and smoke pouring from a smashed radiator.

FINAL VERDICT
88%
HIGHS:
Great slam-bang action; modem and network play.
LOWS:
The computer opponents are pretty wimpy.
BOTTOM LINE:
Destruction Derby is a blast, and a welcome change of pace from high-end driving simulations.
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