Don't believe the Internet rumors: This isn't an L.A. freeway sim.
And it sure ain't no Virtual Chess 64. Strategy and tactics go out the welded-shut door when a chance to blindside a rival motors into view.
Test-driving a new race game typically includes ramming the competition, just to see what happens. Go on, 'fess up -- you do it too. But until now, no N64 developer has capitalized on the basic human instinct to mosh at 100 mph. Fortunately, we can all sleep soundly, now that developer Looking Glass is working feverishly on Destruction Derby 64.
An early burn (pun shamelessly intended) shapes up as a fun four-way fender-bender with a modest one-player World Championship mode tacked on. When racing solo, you get points for dinging opponents and even more for knocking them out of the race.
While checkpoints are at best an afterthought in many racers, they provide what passes for strategy in World Championship mode. You earn 20 points each time you pass a checkpoint, but if you miss one you'll get timed out. Because you get a 10-second bonus for inflicting 30 points worth of pain, you may want to tarry in a pile-up just to earn a little extra juice. For the most part, though, you'll want to floor it from one checkpoint to the next, veering off course only to administer a 20-point coup de grace on the occasional stall smoking by the roadside.
As evidenced by its smashing success with three WCW games, not to mention Rugrats for both the N64 and Game Boy Color, THQ has demonstrated an admirable skill at forking over exactly what its audience wants. With Destruction Derby 64, THQ is giving you no-frills crash-bang-boom action.
You can win faster, sturdier cars, but you can't tweak them. The comic-book physics engine allows you to drive away from a high-speed head-on and even defy gravity by upending a rollover. Straight forward tracks, including plenty of sweeping curves and a few shortcuts, focus your attention on the mayhem at hand. The downside -- at least in this early version of the game -- is that the lack of challenge makes for a snoozy three-lap Time Trial mode.
Destruction Derby 64 packs its wallop in the multiplayer modes. Two can compete against a fleet of CPU-controlled cars in the Destruction Race, while as many as four can compete in Deathmatch, Bomb Tag and Capture the Flag. In Deathmatch, you simply try to survive while inflicting car-nage (pun brazenly intended). In Capture the Flag, you and your partner try to snag a lighted beacon and bring it to your home base without getting whacked by a rival.
Contributed by Evil Ryu (53673) on Aug 15, 2005.