Review by: Jason Purdy
Published: September 18, 1999
There are a lot of racing games out for the PlayStation. I don’t have exact figures on hand, but saying that there are over a hundred would be a pretty conservative estimate. They just keep being churned out, often having no spark or flare to distinguish them from any of their competition, doing little other than dying at retail while the few titles that show the slightest innovation reap all the sales. A few titles take the standard racer and twist it so utterly it is hardly recognizable as a racing game. More often than not, these too are left to gather dust, as their genre-bending is either misunderstood or was poorly conceived in the first place. It is a rare title that manages to make this formula work, but when it does, the results can be spectacular. Demolition Racer is one such game.
The title says it all. This is a game that has not only “racing,” but also “demolition” action. You participate as a driver in a series of contests in which victory is dependent not only on your speed, but also on how much havoc you can wreak as you zip around. Destroying other cars in spectacular ways will net you bonus points, which are increased by a multiplier you receive based on your placing in the race. For example, if you do 610 points of damage to other cars during your three laps and come in second place, you will get a x20 multiplier, netting you 12,200 points. This will almost always put you in the lead past the more conservative player who consistently rushes ahead of the pack and finishes first. This adds an interesting twist to the tried and true racing model, and is a total blast to play.
A second set of courses is available that gives gamers more of what they expect from a demolition derby game. These stages are large open arenas that are light on the racing and heavy on the demolition. The object of these stages is to destroy as many cars as possible while staying alive longer than anyone else. Seeing as how your only weapon is your car, these two goals contradict each other a bit, but a decent balance can be found. In these races, you and 15 other drivers all start out in a large circle, put the accelerators to the floorboards and head full bore straight toward each other. Broadsiding a car at high speeds will net you a quick 50 points, while lesser hits will score you between 5 to 25. Extra points are also awarded for performing feats such as slamming other cars into walls, sending them into 360 spins, lighting them on fire and, of course, destroying them. At the end of this fiery celebration of destruction, you are again awarded a multiplier based on how long you lasted, and the winner is sent on to the next race.
There are several circuits available, each differing in difficulty level and the types of cars you can race. As you progress, you unlock hidden tracks, cars and game types, greatly expanding your play options. Locked race types include “The Chase,” which is a more standard type of competition where the sole objective is to come in first place, “Chicken,” which is just like the regular game, only with the added complication of oncoming traffic, and “Suicide,” which is an arena combat where your objective is to be the first to die. There is also a slew of hidden cars to be unlocked, as well as additional arenas and courses to acquire. All of this will keep the addicted demo racer glued to his or her gamepad for quite a while.