Destruction AllStars Review – Wrecking Havoc In The Arena
Destruction AllStars targets the dumbest part of our human brains with a simple proposition: Do you want to drive a car around and smash stuff? As a matter of fact, I do. The PlayStation 5 exclusive feels like a throwback to games like Destruction Derby, but it breaks ranks from its other car-combat cousins by letting players run around on foot after their car is destroyed. It’s a neat twist that emphasizes the disposable nature of everything that’s happening – including the over-the-top drivers themselves. The whiplash-inducing crashes and unique character abilities are initially satisfying, but only the most dedicated rubberneckers will find a reason to stick around.
Lucid Games wanted to try something unconventional by making the individual drivers the stars of the auto show. Each of the 16 characters has a bold presence that’s largely conveyed by their wardrobe and cheeky pre-match animations. There’s a lot of pro-wrestling-style posturing, and the introductions by UFC announcer Bruce Buffer are a perfect fit for the game’s vibe.
Events start with a mass scramble, as each character sprints to claim one of several available cars on the arena floor. Think of it like a high-stakes game of musical chairs; if two players go for the same car, it’s first come, first served. The second player can leap onto the roof and attempt to yank the other driver out with a button-pressing microgame. A successful takeover gives the victor two options: slide into the driver’s seat, or cause a wreck and find another car. It’s a small moment in the game, but I really like this way of getting into the action. It makes the first moments a weird kind of mind game, as players either try to grab an unclaimed car or – troublemakers unite – they veer toward one that is in the process of getting claimed for the risky opportunity to score a quick K.O.
Driving feels fantastic, with the precision handling that you’d find in a top-tier kart racer. I found the simple act of cruising around genuinely satisfying, building up enough speed to ease onto the banked walls that enclose arenas or performing powerslides to drift dangerously close to pillars, walls, and other obstacles. Of course, other players aren’t keen on indulging this Sunday-drive mentality. Fortunately, they’re at least conceptually easy to deal with. Flicking up on the analog stick engages a speed boost, which lets you escape from harm’s way – or smash into another car or hapless on-foot character. Similarly, a quick left or right will enable you to either juke away from opponents or sideswipe them, depending on what’s happening at the moment. Even though my overall enthusiasm dimmed somewhat over time, I never stopped tensing up in anticipation of a big crash against an unaware enemy vehicle. It feels crunchy and satisfying.
Cars accrue a lot of damage over the course of the matches; that’s kind of the point, after all. That’s where Destruction AllStars is at its best. Rather than be stuck in the corner somewhere in a smoldering soon-to-be wreck, you can fling yourself from your car whenever you want. Don’t ask how characters are able to so easily bound into the air. The important thing is how great it feels, and the amount of flexibility it provides once you get the hang of it. When my car was clearly on its last legs – a sensation that’s wonderfully reinforced with the DualSense’s adaptive triggers tugging away at the gas and brakes – I beelined toward one of the myriad driverless cars hovering on platforms above the arena floor. There’s just the right amount of suction that makes it easy to leap from one car into the seat of another and continue on your destructive way. You can also leap out at the last second to avoid a potential wreck, or if you just feel like it.
On foot, you’re a potential target for anyone, but you’re fairly speedy and have access to some basic parkour techniques like wall running. Sometimes it makes sense to run toward the nearest replacement car, and other times it’s more advantageous to pick up some of the collectable gems that are scattered on various platforms. These items help boost your Breaker meters, which are also built up by making contact with enemy cars. You have two Breaker abilities, one for your character and one for your character’s unique car – which must be summoned by filling the vehicle Breaker bar. Each is unique for the character, which contributes to a dizzying amount of chaos in matches.
Whiplash-inducing crashes and unique character abilities are initially satisfying, but only the most dedicated rubberneckers will find a reason to stick around.
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