Destruction AllStars Review: Bucket Of Bolts
Growing up in the ‘90s allowed me to grow with the gaming industry, from the Nintendo Entertainment System to my PS5 proudly displayed next to my PC. I’ve been there for the platformers, the Maddens, the Call of Dutys, and (of course) the battle royale genre. But one particular genre from my youthful heyday that seems to have fallen out of favor with consumers is the one that puts you behind the wheel of a tricked-out battle car designed specifically to take out other players.
Car combat titles seem to have gone the way of the buffalo. Sure, modern-day titles such as Wreckfest and even Rocket League have their destruction derby-style of gameplay, but the car combat that I know and love comes from games like Super Mario Kart 64’s Battle mode or the holy grail of the car combat genre: Twisted Metal. So, then, you can imagine my excitement to hop into Destruction AllStars, which is available now on PS5 for PS+ subscribers. Unfortunately, I am utterly disappointed by everything that Destruction AllStars has to offer. There’s some fun to be had for the right audience, I guess (I always try to find the good in the bad), but Destruction AllStars just doesn’t live up to the roots sewn by its car combat predecessors.
The name of the game is in Destruction AllStars’ title. You’re here to wreak havoc and cause as much damage and destruction as possible. This is done through each vehicle’s boost ability with the right joystick. You can boost forward or left and right, with the ability to recharge after a short cooldown period. Eventually, your own vehicle will take on too much damage (or will be destroyed completely), leading to your character ejecting from the vehicle and running around the arena on foot in search of another vehicle. As you run, jump, wall-run, and dodge oncoming cars, you can pick up gems that will fill meters for your character’s special abilities. One of these can be used while on foot, such as running faster or being undetectable to other players; the other while driving, such as giving your vehicle a bit more offensive firepower. The specials don’t really feel like they do much in the grand scheme of things, though. A lot of which has to do with the fact that there’s just so much going on at once.
Destruction AllStars features four online multiple modes, along with an offline arcade and challenge mode that lets you hone your skills without the pressure of battling other real-life players. It’s smart of you to take advantage of those offline modes too, because jumping straight into the online fray might be more than enough to make you uninstall the game.
The four online modes include Mayhem, a free-for-all destruction derby in which you want to dish out the most damage; Gridfall, which is essentially AllStars’ battle royale mode; Carnado, where teams of eight gain points by doling out damage, then drive their car into a tornado; and Stockpile, which is similar to Carnado, with players delivering gears into a designated scoring area.
Good luck knowing exactly what to do, though. Other than a split second description of the match, you’re left to figure things out on your own. The free-for-all modes are self-explanatory, and you’ll eventually be able to pick things up as you play more matches (speaking specifically to the 8-on-8 game modes), but a bit more direction would be a welcomed addition.
I suppose you could ask the pre-game lobby for help since voice chat is enabled by default, but it likely won’t get you a response other than getting cussed at and called a name – likely some kind of racial slur. Unless you’re willing to put up with the pre-game obnoxiousness, you’d be wise to change that setting. Immediately.
This same dynamic exists in the game’s character selection – of which there are far too many. 16 characters are available, all of whom have different special abilities. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to understand exactly what each character can do without actually playing as them. I guess that’s a good way to experience playing as each character, but it seems a bit outlandish to force players to do so. I also find the characters themselves to be rather uninspired. There’s a petite e-girl with a cat car (Dva from Overwatch), a female version of Caustic (Apex Legends), and a musical lady who bears a striking resemblance to Bangalore (Apex Legends). We’ve seen some version of these characters before. Brand-new original characters could have at least made that aspect of the game a bit more interesting.
Unfortunately for Destruction AllStars’ sake, comparing it to Twisted Metal is unavoidable. Oh, how I loved taking control of Spectre and Axel as I battled it out with friends using weapons of mass destruction. Sure, the graphics and controls were a product of the technology of the time, but we made do. So, then, what’s Destruction AllStars’ excuse for having such terrible controls and awkward camera angles? This is certainly not what I would expect at this point from a next-gen gen console, much less a PS5-exclusive. The controls while driving aren’t terrible, but they don’t feel as tight as they should. Using the boost ability means having to move your thumb away from the handbrake, which doesn’t make a lot of sense from a trajectory strategy standpoint.
Things are far worse on foot, though. Running throughout the arena is essentially a platforming experience as you jump onto platforms to get a new car. Jumping doesn’t feel great though. It’s missing that weighted feeling you get when a character is jumping up to grab onto a ledge. The best way I can describe it is “floaty.” It’s a bit better when your special ability is active, since that allows for a double jump. Even then, though, the controls are finicky and the camera angles make things harder than they need to be.
As much as I dislike most of what Destruction AllStars has to offer, the game looks great. The visuals are definitely the highlight of the game, a solid mix of Fortnite and Rocket League. The animations look even better. Despite the unoriginal character designs, their intro scenes look great on the PS5. Honestly, I think my favorite part of the game is the beginning cinematic at the start of each match where all of the characters freefall from a high platform down into the arena. It’s clear that there was considerable care into at least making the game look great.
I wanted to love Destruction AllStars. I still do. There’s just not enough there to make it worth my while right now. A couple of times, I ran into a weird technical issue where I would jump into a brand-new car, but it just wouldn’t move. I think that issues like this can certainly be fixed in a future patch, though. I also know that the development team of Lucid Games has a year’s-worth of content planned for the game. As such, although I can’t recommend playing Destruction AllStars right now, I do have high hopes for the future of the game. Especially since the car combat genre is ripe for the taking with no new Twisted Metal in sight.
A PS5 copy of Destruction AllStars was used by TheGamer for this review. Destruction AllStars is available now exclusively on PS5.
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Sam has been writing for TheGamer since early 2018, earning the role as the Lead Features & Review Editor in 2019. The Denver, Colorado-native’s knack for writing has been a life-long endeavor. His time spent in corporate positions has helped shape the professional element of his creative writing passion and skills. Beyond writing, Sam is a lover of all things food and video games, which – especially on weekends – are generally mutually exclusive, as he streams his gameplay on Twitch (as well as TheGamer’s Facebook page) under the self-proclaimed, though well-deserved moniker of ChipotleSam. (Seriously…just ask him about his Chipotle burrito tattoo). You can find Sam on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook as @RealChipotleSam.
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