Let's face it: at a certain age, destroying your toys becomes more enjoyable than playing with them. When you were a kid playing with matchbox cars, did you ever actually race them against each other? I thought not. No, you slid the little die-cast speedsters as hard as you could at one another until they smashed to pieces on the kitchen linoleum. Am I saying that this is the correct way to play with matchbox cars, that one should be encouraged to enact scenes of demolition with his playthings? Yes, because it's fun.
Fun, in case you were wondering, is what games are all about. Few auto racing games actually let the player do more than nail down the accelerator and brake around turns. Last year's Destruction Derby was a refreshing break from this monotonous trend, combining stimulating, competitive racing with the meaningless vandalism that action gamers crave. It was the first racing title to come along that encouraged you to and rewarded you for driving straight into oncoming traffic - now THAT'S a racing game. Psygnosis have finally released the sequel, and gamers who appreciated the irrational smash-'em-up mentality of the original PC version are sure to get a kick out of riding on the hard driving path that is Destruction Derby 2.
The most notable enhancement in DD2 is your car's ability to leave the road - skyward. Courses now include banks and jumps that send speeding cars flying into the stratosphere, colliding mid-air with other cars, eventually landing on more cars, only to skid on the ground and bash into yet more cars. Vehicles have to take jumps with caution or risk corkscrewing and landing completely upside down, helpless as toppled turtles. Occasionally, car physics push the limits of reality. Sometimes, when a car takes to the air, it careens overhead in slow motion as though someone had turned on the anti-gravity machine. Surprisingly this detour from true car physics just adds to dramatic quality of the action.
Crash scenes have also improved. Cars now spew more parts than an auto shop when blindsided. Vehicles can also lose hoods and wheels, driving around with engines exposed, trailing sparks as their bare axles scrape the ground. Damage is the word when it comes to racing in Destruction Derby 2, which lends new meaning to the term "eliminate the competition."
Seven new race tracks, ranging from winding desert roads to nighttime streets, are introduced in the game, and the races here seem to be much more difficult to win compared to the original. Additionally, Psygnosis has heeded the cries of the gaming masses, introducing four new destruction derby tracks (wherein the sole objective is to disable other cars) for our demolition pleasure. The last of these,called the "Death Bowl," features an inescapable chasm that cars can be knocked into. Playing in "Total Destruction" mode (where all vehicles, as if operating as a unit, abandon all other causes and go straight after YOUR car), you can lure a pack of vehicles to the edge of this pit and swiftly move away, watching them tumble over to their smoky deaths.
The graphics and playability of Destruction Derby 2 aren't as silky as they were in the Playstation version, but it's definitely a better looking and more playable game than the original PC Destruction Derby. Combine the new improvements with a bold, sludge-metal soundtrack and you've got a great sequel to Destruction Derby. The main complaint you could lodge against this game is that, compared to the previous title, the other cars are nearly impossible to overtake during a race. Still, if you're looking for more chassis-crushing fun in a game that ends up somehow being even more silly than the original, Destruction Derby 2 is your ticket.