DESTRUCTION DERBY / Psygnosis / PC
I feel like the "meh" rating is being overly generous with this one ... underneath the impressive-for-1995 graphics and driving engine, this game is basically just tedious and pointless.
The spartan and not-well-designed menu system greets you in every new game, guiding you to one of the three main modes of play - the titular Destruction Derby, Wreckin' Racing, and Stockcar Racing. Let's take a look at each.
For the game's namesake, Destruction Derby is exceptionally bad. It's not like it's poorly programmed or anything, it's just such a lame idea. Basically, each arena is a giant bowl - maybe with some token ramps or something in the later ones - and beaucoup cars are dropped in to mash each other until one is left standing. First off, this idea needs more environmental stuff to interact with to work really well, or weapons a la Twisted Metal. Just running into each other in a giant fishbowl gets boring in about five seconds. Not only that, there's really no strategy to it at all other than hanging about the edges waiting for the other cars to mash each other to death, which is even MORE boring. Go in to mix it up and you'll find that every other car has like 3 or 4x the damage resistance you do and you're the first one out in a hurry. Lack of free camera control, this being from 1995, also makes it irritatingly hard to manuever.
Wreckin' Racing crosses up traditional racetrack racing with mashing into each other and only being able to take a limited amount of damage. There's numerous Problemas here too. The first is that there's only five tracks, and they're all fairly boring and samey "speedway" loops. The second is that the computer AI is set more to troll you by zeroing in on you and running you into the wall constantly rather than making any strategic effort to win the race for themselves. Basically, from the green light every race degenerates into one car zooming ahead and having a nice Sunday drive while everyone else in the pack tries to gangrape your car. And if you fled into this mode to escape the tedium of Destruction Derby, guess what? Each "season" in Career Mode (one trip through each five tracks) ends with a forced Destruction Derby in a boring open arena! Wheee!
Stockcar Racing is identical to Wreckin' down to the last detail, except that the computer AI seems to have been tweaked to suicidally KILL YOU less and actually move forward and try to win the race more. You still take damage from incidental collisions and hitting the barriers, though. Grinding against the barriers will happen a lot due to the really floaty and imprecise handling, which isn't even as good as OutRun let alone, say, Ridge Racer or the first Gran Turismo game. Also each of these boring little speedway loops has like 12 laps, plenty of time to get ground down by incidental barrier contact, which is more your main rival here than the crappity CPU driving AI.
A game revolving around smashing cars into other cars at high speed should be anything but boring just by default. Yet, somehow, Psygnosis managed to make to make this first outing tedious beyond belief.
* Gameplay Video