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October 21, 2003
Destruction Derby Arenas - Preview
Release Date Publisher Developer Anticipation Players Price
9/1/2003SonyStudio 331-16 $99.95

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The backgrounds are impressive.
The Destruction Derby games have always been a favourite of mine. Let's face it the main reason we watch car races is to see a collision, and destruction of cars. The first game appeared as a launch title on PSOne and was hailed, along with Wipeout as the standout titles on the system. Sure, the gameplay wasn't the deepest ever seen, but it was fun, and that's what really counts. After three title on PSOne it was time to move the series to a more powerful system. What is amazing, however, is how long it's taken to reach the system - almost 5 years.

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Car selection screen.
The series' basic enjoyable premise remains the same take control of a fully destructible car and throw it around a series of tracks and bowls. With each collision earning crucial turbo boost and grid positions, players are rewarded not just for skilful cornering but for hammering their opponents to pieces with their own vehicles! As bumpers drop off, knackered radiators steam and doors flap open, the competition to get to first place gets ever more heated. Gone are the muddy-coloured stock cars and old bangers; in their place is a colourful selection of larger-than-life muscle cars with which to wreak havoc in the world of illegal underground racing. A full range of distinct and stylised characters (complete with individual vehicles, stories, relationships, taunts and endings) replaces the previously anonymous and faceless drivers of previous incarnations.

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Getting some major air.
The biggest design change, however, is probably in the tracks, bowls and arenas. Imaginatively themed, these now offer both stunning looks and real variety. From looping the loop to ramping huge gaps to avoiding swinging wrecking balls to cruising crowded Chinatown marketplaces, each environment throws new challenges at the player. As you can see from the surrounding screenshots the levels of detail in this game has been increased dramatically from the PSOne titles. Hopefully the game will maintain a healthy frame rate during the mayhem.

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Car parts will fly off.
Actually there's something else that is likely to get you more excited about this game then the design changes - online gameplay. Through the broadband adapter this game allows up to 16 players to compete to the end. As is becoming standard the Internet connection will also allow you to talk to competitors through the headset bundled with SOCOM: US Navy Seal's, or now available seperately. For those of you without the broadband adapter the developers are including 4-player split screen support with the multi-tap.

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Burn, baby, burn.
With 20 muscle cars to throw around this game certainly looks the part, but its the physics and car destruction that will matter the most. With controllable skids and manageable collisions the early word is that developers have just about got it right. Destruction Derby Arenas includes a huge range of unlockable characters, each with their own individual vehicles, stories, relationships, taunts and endings.

To be hones my only gripe is the developers decision to move the game to what they call an "appealing 'Americana' art style gives tracks and cars bold, larger than life feel". To be honest I would have like to see cars themed from around the world, especially from a European developer. Still it does look nice enough and this will be one title to keep an eye on.