Game Review - by James Allen
There is nothing more American than stock car racing (other than baseball, football, and apple pie). Of course, a majority of the people who extensively watch stock car racing (and most car racing in general) are just waiting for the crashes. To simplify the process and cut straight to the chase, we are presented with Demolition Derby, a sport which encompasses all of the ideals that we hold dear: lots and lots of crashes. There have been several titles in the computer et which have offered their take on this strange and compelling sport, but none have treated it realistically, usually adding power-ups, pedestrians, and the sort. That is, until now! Demolition Derby & Figure 8 Race, despite being a very descriptive and very long name, features all the crashing goodness that we have come to know in (not surprisingly) demolition derbies. So, will Demolition Derby win the elusive cup, or end up a smoking heap of ineptitude?
Demolition Derby & Figure 8 Race features demolition derbies and figure eight races. Bet you didn't see that one coming! There are three levels of action: local, regional and national. At each level, there are three available tracks, all of which have compact and full size demolition derbies, and one of which has an additional figure 8 track. To unlock the next series of three tracks, you must win three races at the previous level, whether they be demolition derbies or figure 8 races. After you win three national races, the most anticlimactic victory is seen, proclaiming you DERBY KING! Woohoo! To choose from, there are a whole bunch of cars available, each with their own paint job and even their own characteristics in handling. It would have been nice to include a painting option so that you could design your own car, but enough cars are included to satisfy your wants and needs. The individual tracks each have their own strategy, resulting from their size and layout. Also, a track editor would have been cool, but, again, enough differences in the tracks are found to make a difference. You can adjust the skill level of the AI, able the powder puff option (female drivers only), and customize your controls. If you want, you can challenge your friends over a LAN or by typing in IP addresses (a favorite pastime of gamers everywhere). Unfortunetly, there are no options for split-screen play. Finally, a really, really hokey instructional video is included in the install (which almost equals the size of the rest of the game). Mmm…low production values. Still, there are enough options to keep most people entertained.
The sound is, well, pretty bad. The same metal-crunching sound is used for every crash; there are engine effects, restarting your car, and some menu "music" (which are sounds apparently recorded in the crowd at a derby race). No music and no other crashing sounds. No horns, drivers offering advice, or crowds. Oh well.
As I stated before, there are demolition derbies and figure 8 races. The figure eight races are straightforward enough, as you must drive in an eight pattern around two tires barriers. Of course, the paths cross, and this results in crashing goodness. The AI here seems to get into one too many big wrecks (especially with large number of cars). Since you are not restricted much in the races (you just need to go around the tires), you can avoid most of these large pileups and win by several laps (well, I do, and I got skillz). The other side of the coin here are the demolition derbies, which actually have more strategy than you thought. Your car receives damage in six areas: the engine, back end, and front and rear bumpers (both sides each). Once your bumpers are gone, your engine starts to get damage, and then its all over. You can lose by several fashions: destroying your engine or back end, not moving, or not hitting other cars. If you car stalls, you can try to restart the engine before you get counted out in 20 seconds.
As for causing damage to the other cars, the goal is to hit the tire area with your bumper. If you hit head-on, each car takes an equal amount of damage, but the sides (have no bumpers) take much more than a bumper ever would. The AI is very good at this, and are ruthless at tracking you down and causing much pain. This seemingly accurate depiction of car destruction makes for interesting derbies, and results in a game which is much more than just hitting the other car: it's hitting the other car ACCURATELY. And Demolition Derby does this very well.
The most important aspect of the graphics in a demolition derby is the gradual deformation of each vehicle, and Demolition Derby does a fair job in representing this. All of the cars are rendered in 3D, so bending metal actually results in a constantly changing car on the screen. The smoke effects are sufficient, although there are some slightly strange clipping problems with the ground. The tracks are depicted realistically enough. Really, the graphics are quite fine in this game, especially considering that it is not backed by a huge budget in the vein of EA or Papyrus. As long as my car gets damage, then that's all right with me.
Possibly the only realistic demolition derby simulation on the et, Demolition Derby & Figure 8 Race delivers the goods. Featuring a realistic derby mode, an interesting figure eight racing mode, plenty of cars, and enough tracks, Demolition Derby is perfect for a quick shot in the arm gaming experience. If you are tired of silly power-ups and other nonsense, make sure you pick the game up. The Derby Dog is waiting.