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Destruction AllStars Review

Destruction AllStars

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Release: //02/02/2021
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Developer: Lucid Games
Genre: Action, PS5 ReviewsReviews
PEGI: 12+
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7.5 - Gameplay
           
 
7.0 - Video
          
 
4.0 - Audio
          
 

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Destruction AllStars was going to be a full-priced PS5 launch title. Thank God they changed their mind.

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That’s not to say that it’s a bad game, because it’s not. But in the world of Rocket League, Overwatch, Apex and Call of Duty, this is at every disadvantage.

Showcased alongside the likes of Spider-Man: Miles Morales, slapping that “ONLY ON PLAYSTATION” sticker on it meant expectations were sky-high and, without being effectively free, it would have died on arrival.

But, thankfully, someone came to their senses, and Destruction AllStars got a small, but healthy shot at success. Will that be enough? Unfortunately, probably not.

Crashing for Sport

The game starts with a forced tutorial, which both overstays its welcome and manages to miss out things you need to know. It spends over a minute teaching you how to move and jump, which I get is in the interest of levelling the playing field. But it should be done in a snappier way.

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That is what it is. Nobody is going to judge this game on how good the tutorial is, but how good the action is. And I’m happy to report it’s pretty good, if a little shallow.

The gameplay is simple: drive your car into other cars while scoring as many points as possible. You can get out your car, steal other people’s cars, summon a special hero car that’s specific to your character, but ultimately the goal is to get as many points as possible.

There are 16 characters in total, each with two special abilities. One is used in their hero car, and can be anything from giant spikes sticking out your vehicle to setting opponents on fire. There are also on-foot abilities, which tend to be linked to your characters “element”. So, fire car character also has a fire ability while on foot.

Most characters aren’t terribly interesting, and even at launch there are already overlapping abilities. This isn’t the end of the world, but it doesn’t bode well.

AllStars in Trouble

The actual gameplay loop is addictive, fun but not terribly deep. The easiest way of getting to the top of the leaderboard isn’t necessarily anything to do with playing your character in the right way. It’s almost entirely about hitting cars over and over again.

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I’m only half kidding. When you take away all the glitz, all the fancy costumes and crazy catchphrases, you effectively just have to score points in the most efficient way possible. That means crashing into crowds and little else.

Sure, character abilities help. But few are so good that they beat out just sticking with the crowd and getting points where you can get them.

For a game that you’ll play for a week because it’s on PlayStation Plus, that’s not a bad thing. For something that probably needs legs for a few years or that wants to retail at full price, it definitely is.

It reminds me a bit of Worms Rumble in that regard. It was fun at first, but it quickly became harder to get a game, and those that were still playing were just getting better and better. Now imagine you’d paid $70 for it.

On top of that, there are a whole load of bugs I’ve come across during my time playing, including cameras locking in place and cars acting like they’re infused with the finest ragdoll physics. The former has been rare, but the latter is a pain.

Giving the benefit of the doubt, I suspect this is largely release week jitters. I don’t think this will be a problem long-term.

Off-Road

If the regular multiplayer mode isn’t to your standard, there are a few other varieties to check out. All are fun in their own way, and do offer the illusion of depth. They boil down to the same “get points by crashing into stuff” loop, but add extra steps or a team element. If you love this game – and there will be plenty that do – you’re not stuck doing one thing.

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Equally, there is a limited amount of single player modes to checkout as well, although it’s obvious this is not the focus. There are a set of story missions, which comprise a couple of cutscenes, time trials and challenges. I like this, and wish it was something other character-based online games did more prominently. Overwatch 2 will offer things more along these lines.

There’s also your standard arcade mode where you can set-up games to your liking, and a host of tutorials.

Graphics and Sound

Graphically, Destruction AllStars is more than passable. Textures are nice, character designs are varied and interesting. It’s an arena car game, and you get what you would expect to. This isn’t going to be your go-to to show off the PS5, but nobody would have ever claimed that.

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Sound is a bigger problem. There are two major reasons for this.

The first is the fact there’s a mic built into the PS5 controller, which was always a bit dodgy to start with. Destruction AllStars has this on by default, the PS5 has it on by default, and there’s no way of muting other players without muting every sound coming from the controller.

Other people’s music? Absolutely. Angry virgins? You got it. Smug devils bragging about their third place “win”? I’ve heard it. Ten minutes of somebody’s mom discussing her plans for the week?

Maybe that last one was built into the game. I don’t know.

This is so, so annoying. I don’t understand how anybody thought this perfect storm was a good idea. I can only put it down to internal testers not thinking about the real-life situation.

But honestly, even without that, the commentary would be enough to put you off. Every match is narrated from your perspective. It takes about two games to start getting repeats. By three games you’re starting to lose the will to live.

Conclusion

It might seem unfair to compare this brand new game to the likes of Rocket League and Overwatch, but that’s what gamers are rightly going to do. This is a new title in their market, and as we’ve seen time and time again either developers have to bring a fully formed game to rival those titles or they disappear.

Destruction AllStars doesn’t bring much to the table. What it offers can largely be gotten better elsewhere, and for less money if you’re unlucky enough to miss out on it being in PlayStation Plus.

But that doesn’t mean it’s a lost cause. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time with it, but the novelty is already wearing thin. If you’ve got PlayStation Plus, download it, enjoy it and move on. If you haven’t, wait for a deep discount and hope for the best.

Or wait for it to inevitably go free-to-play. Whichever happens first.

 

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blank Mat Growcott has been a long-time member of the gaming press. He's written two books and a web series, and doesn't have nearly enough time to play the games he writes about.

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