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Destruction Derby Arenas PlayStation 2

Published by Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
Developed by Studio 33
Released - Out Now
Price : £39.99

All too often these days racing games try to be serious and don't always focus on the fun element of driving games. One of the best games on the PSOne for simply having a good time and smashing into everything in sight was Destruction Derby. The Destruction Derby series was phenomenally popular, to date the series has sold over 3 millions titles, and it's surprising that it's taken this long for the series to arrive on the PlayStation 2.

Destruction Derby Arenas is definitely aimed at the more light hearted racers out there. The single player game consists of the championship mode, the wrecking racing mode and the destruction bowl mode. The championship mode allows you to pick one of the games zany characters and take them through a series of races. One of the main reasons for playing the championship mode is that it enables you to unlock additional track, cars and characters. The wrecking racing mode is for one off races and the destruction bowls are a free for all where racing goes out of the window in favour of some car crunching. The wrecking racing mode and the destruction bowl events can either be played as a single or two player (via split-screen) game.

Of course with the game arriving now, it has the option to include an online mode, which was too good an opportunity to miss and you'll be pleased to know that the game offers a variety of online races. Both the wrecking racing mode and the destruction bowl events can be played online and in addition there are four other modes, last man standing, speedway, capture the trophy and pass da bomb. The games can be played with up to 19 other gamers which is quite impressive and I didn't experience any lag either. Voice chat is supported in the game lobbies and this will be a problem for deaf gamers but you can create your own lobby and lock it so that only friends are allowed in.

Destruction Derby Arenas is an arcade racer, with the various power ups etc. that this usually entails, and the handling reflects this and the game is not difficult at all to get into. Having said this though it's not possible to simply keep the accelerate button depressed and you do have a certain degree of having to find the racing line (unless you simply want to smash everything in sight) in the modes that are more or less straight racing. The controls feel comfortable though and a gamer who doesn't normally enjoy racing titles won't take too long to get to grips with the game.

The biggest disappointment with Destruction Derby Arenas is the look of the game. Those expecting visuals approaching Gran Turismo 3 will be very disappointed. The developers went for an ultra bright almost cartoon look to the game. It isn't cel-shaded but the style of the visuals is somewhat at odds with the mood of the game. The advantage of keeping the graphical detail simple though is that it allows the game to maintain a stable framerate and even online it remains fairly smooth. Although the cars do have a damage model it's by means a realistic one, which again might come as a disappointment but it's certainly not a problem. What I did like about the game though is the way every circuit seems to have it's own theme. This has no real bearing on the gameplay but it's good that the circuits offer plenty of variation in their appearance.

Destruction Derby Arenas is fine for deaf gamers. The only verbal content in the game comes from the commentator and the occasional banter from the games characters and to be honest it's no great loss. As we've already mentioned, the online mode allows voice chat and this could be an inconvenience, but with the ability to create your own game rooms and only allow your friends in, it's something that isn't too much of a problem.

Essentially Destruction Derby Arenas is a solid, if not spectacular, addition to the series but I suspect veteran fans of the series would probably have liked to have seen better graphics and a more meaty single player game. I do think that most people will eventually only play the game in online mode as playing through the championship mode could become a little cumbersome after completing it a few times. Still if you're looking for a driving game that has a minimal learning curve and that you can take online, then Destruction Derby Arenas will certainly fit the bill.

Overall Game Rating: 7.0/10
The single player side of the game is a little weak but the online game has the potential to become really popular and offers a far greater challenge.

Deaf Gamers comment:
There are some omissions but there aren't any real problems.