Add this game to the “You can’t do it in real life so that’s why there’s a video game” category. Even if you could customize an old jalopy for the Destruction Derby Circuit, most likely you would be stuck in a dirt arena being telecast on TNN at 2 in the morning. Big deal. They days of destruction derby games in arenas or boring old circular tracks is history. DD Raw comes at you with some kick ass level design complete with criss-crosses, big jumps, parking garages, and head-on collisions. So forget about going out and looking for a crash; here the crashes come to you.
If you have played the previous Destruction Derby games or the new Destruction Derby Racing then you may think that you know want to expect, but you’d be mistaken. At first I thought it was going to be more uninspired arenas. Thankfully, I was pleasantly impressed. Knowing that racing games are nothing without interesting track designs, the creators have mixed up a plethora of great innovations and some classic tropes to make some great levels that really lend themselves to bone-breaking crashes. In the past derby games most of the time the levels were just long loops with some winds and twits but mostly just filler as you tried to get ahead. In Destruction Derby Raw, however, you have to work against the track just as hard as you have to work against your opponents. There are huge towers in the middle of the road as well as jumps that launch your car into more obstacles. The good part about all of this is that you can smash other cars into all of these obstacles for big points.
As much as I love them, good tracks are not all it takes to make a good destruction derby game. If the control is bad it won’t matter how good the tracks are because you will be too frustrated to race them. However, in this game that is not the case. Taking a cue from Driver, DD Raw has a semi-realistic style of driving style that may not be very accurate, but sure is fun. So get ready to power-slide. In this game, it's not just fun, it is also advantageous. Use your tail fins to knock the guy next to you into the wall or take a 90 degree curve with style. Just because the control is more of an arcade-style that does not mean that precision is thrown out the window. On the contrary, the courses are designed to invoke crashes so you have to be really careful if you want your car to survive the long laps.
There are two ways to play this game, which provides two different gameplay experiences. The first mode is a series of challenges that progressively get harder and harder. There are quite a few challenges and to complete them means racking a given number of points. Points are given for busting up other cars (of course) and placing high at the end of the race. You’ll soon find that once the courses start to get into the difficult stages it is hard enough to finish the race with a working car, much less in first place. If you do finish with enough points you are given the option to play another round in a pyramid style level select. Pyramid style means that for every level you pass two open up.
The other option is to do a career mode. This is for all of you who think you can be Demolition Racers for a living and want to have a simulation to train you. The game plays kinda like a dumbed-down version of Gran Turismo. You have a small amount of money to start--enough to buy a car. Then you compete in races and tournaments trying to build you cash flow in order to supe up your car and buy new ones. The catch is that after each race you need to repair your car in order to enter the next battle. This became a serious problem for me since I could not manage to save much money being that my car came back totaled after every race. However, once you get a little experience you will get the tracks down, which will greatly reduce wear and tear on the turns. Basically this mode is for long term gameplay while the other mode is good if you just want to get right into the thick of it.
Either way you choose to play, the game is non-stop destruction excitement. The amount of cars that are present and the way the tracks are laid out adds to the intensity that fuels the game. The bottom line is that the game is based on destruction and hard-core racing. That is what it is aimed at doing and it does it exceptionally well. This may not be the most accurate of games but it sure is one of the most fun. For any of you that remember playing Destruction Derby 1 and 2 back when the Playstation first came out, get ready for more rip-roaring-back-breaking-fender-bending action than you can wave a blown gasket at.
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