One of the oldest sub-games for video games, just below “shooting aliens” and “eating yellow pellets”, is to “destroy things while driving.” Still, while Mad MaxThe heyday of the 80’s pushed the needle when the gaming industry first exploded, we have rarely seen the genre explode at the usual level.
Mario Kart may seem like an exception, but when I say “car battle”, it’s less about green shells and banana peels and more about direct collisions and destruction. The largest series under this banner, Twisted Metal and Vigilante 8, are small compared to Mario Kart—And not many have peers.
The genre gets a big jumpstart this week Destruction AllStars, Sony’s first brand new game for PlayStation 5. (Last year’s Demon’s Souls does not count completely, since it is a remake of a PS3 title.) For a particular class of driving game savant, this is a biggie, as it finally sees Lucid Games back to car play after burning the genre’s tracks with Gotham Racing Project. But can they succeed in car racing where so many others have stopped out?
Like a PS5, you can not currently buy this game
The best thing about this game is that it was thrown off the store shelves.
Let me explain: DAS almost launched with the PlayStation 5 in November as a $ 70 retail game. At the last minute, it was both delayed and turned (in the foreseeable future) into a gift with Sony’s paid PlayStation Plus subscription service. So as long as you are a paying PS + member from now until March 31, you can claim a copy of the game, and if your subscription expires, you can get the game back by subscribing again.
It is unclear whether this standard PS + access will continue after March 31, and from the time of the press you can not buy individually DAS either as a disc or an online license. If you are already paying for PS + as a PS4 owner, for example, I encourage you to claim what is rightfully yours via DAS‘PlayStation Network listing over the next eight weeks, which you can do in a browser without owning a PS5 console. (There’s a good chance you do not own a PS5 console yet, or so we hear.)
As a result, this predominantly online multiplayer online car game battle has already ended up on the majority of PS5 consoles – and you can not play PS5 games online without PS + anyway, so this overlap is smartly superfluous. So far, the first day of the game has the benefits of a healthy online population, which might not have been the case for a brand new series that costs no less than $ 70 in advance. That said, since DAS is predominantly online, Sony Interactive Entertainment rejected our request to test the game ahead of the launch, so I logged in as soon as the game went live for the public on Monday night.
Pass the smashy-smash sniff test
DAS offers four types of online games with Destruction Derby, along with offline versions where AI takes the place of real drivers. (Do you want to play with friends? You must each play online with your own PS5; the game does not offer options for split screen or system connection.) In each mode, win and loss is about controlling your car in such a way that it smashes into others cars, and the modes are differentiated by several targets.
The first business order is the smashy-smash, and that’s it DASimmediate sniff-test success. Each car in the game can activate two types of boosts – forward and sideways – which both damage other cars, while temporarily protecting you from taking front-on damage. A forward boost is the typical “nitro” button for your video game, sending you forward in a way that either knocks on a car right in front of you or helps you guarantee a solid T-leg collision angle. Sideboost causes your car to unnaturally shift to the side, as if it had hips and could turn them directly to the left or right.
A short “charge” timer for both boost maneuvers takes longer if you whip, so it’s a neat way to push players to save their boosts for clearer collisions and chain several smashes in a row. You want to knit chains together, because you slam into a car DAS looks and feels very darned good, with Burn outcaliber torque that crashes into the car that curls up with the worst blow. Single-player mode includes a drop in matrix style when you actually throw an opposing car, but these collisions still look and feel good in real time, which is proof of how Lucid Games models and sells them.
Yet DAS includes a crazy twist: each match shows players jumping on the battlefield as a person, not as a car. At this point, you are encouraged to run up to a number of empty cars sitting on podiums, claim one and start driving. The point of this is to emphasize that you can throw out of a car at any time – or fly out of your own car if it is damaged. Often you want to bail out your own car because it has little health, and you insure and claim various empty cars that appear on podiums in the middle of the match.
Lucid Games is trying to push players to throw out their cars for other reasons. The biggest thing is that you have to run and jump over floating platforms and walls to pick up a “pearl” currency, which is the fastest way to fill the character’s two “special” meters. This is getting confusing. The first meter controls your avatar, and using that meter temporarily increases the character’s running speed, adds a double jump, and lets them jump on opposite cars and try to overtake them via a button-talking mini-game. The second meter allows you to spawn a character-specific “super” car, which has a higher health rating and a unique, rechargeable capability. In general, you want the supercar more than the freebie cars scattered across maps.
This dual gameplay system has long been teased since the game’s announcement in mid – 2020, and I was wondering at the time if it would compare well with Titanfall, which allows players to switch between human soldiers and giant robots. That contrast works wonders for Titanfall, as each extreme has its own appealing strengths and can counteract the other side. DASunfortunately does not come close to living up to such a standard.
Instead, Lucid Games forces players to tackle a less satisfying metagame of grabbing and using beads on finer cars – and this means having to run, jump and glide hard to collect these beads. Running around simply does not feel as fun as driving, because the human half of the game completely lacks power – unless you perfectly take the time on the “human special” meter to jump on opposite cars, and even then it is usually faster for the driver to shake off an enemy than it is for man to catch such a car.
When on foot, you can activate miniature barriers by walking over them, and these mildly damaged cars if they crash into them, but this never pans out in a satisfactory way of a “hahaha, gotcha” way that you come from drop banana peels and bob-ombs in Mario Kart. Lucid Games simply did not believe the human half of this game, and I really hope they have some development budget left to adjust it completely. Even something as simple as a more controllable jump or a wider camera angle, seeing the entire arena, will help, let alone give players some standard weapon options on foot.
Each character-specific car, on the other hand, varies in utility when the special meter is activated, and already these cars appear to be painfully unbalanced. Some cars only get a temporary, reinforced shield, while others become super-murder mobiles for a limited period, especially those equipped with blockable AOE damage. Ideally, these imbalances will be resolved to some degree with mathematical touches, and I am hopeful that this narrows the game, as many of the startups are compelling. One person’s supercar can put down temporary streaks of fire in the wake, damaging lots of enemies driving through, while another can temporarily blind a single driver – which teammates can take advantage of and destroy a seated duck.