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Demolition Racer: No Exit (Dreamcast) artwork

Demolition Racer: No Exit (Dreamcast) review

"Forget Destruction Derby: The best videogame to ever capture this is Demolition Racer. Even the name oozes more machismo. "

For those who did not know, despite my adorably unisex screen name, I fall under the 'guy' category - and if you’re a fan of stereotyping, there are two things us guys love above all else. Driving things fast and smashing things up. It might be suggested that we watch such sports as motor racing with skewed priorities: pretending that we enjoy it for the thrills and sportsmanship, but secretly hoping for an eight car pile up on the forth corner. There’s nothing more manly than flaming fuel-tanks, rolling chassis’ and the obligatory single tire rolling off into the sunset.

Forget Destruction Derby: The best videogame to ever capture this is Demolition Racer. Even the name oozes more machismo.

Demolition Racer gives you all the usual options - Single race and two-player head-to-head gives you a choice of varying cars with and throws you head first in to a quick-start race. But it’s jumping into the League, a set-up that lets you compete in various championship conditions, that makes the biggest mark on the game. The completion of each stage opens up new cars, levels, extras, hidden two-player modes a slew of hidden goodies. Manly goodies.

It works on the basis that you run 3 laps of a track; the winner is determined by a points system, which you gain by smashing the hell out of the other cars on the track; the better the hit, the bigger the points. But, your points are multiplied by the position you finish in. So, destroying every car you come across, but finishing 10th is no good, neither is just blasting round said course trying to conserve your paintwork; scoring nothing gets you nowhere. You must find a balance between the two.

What makes this process interesting is the AI. The other drivers race under the same conditions, so they’ll want to smash you up and outrace you. They also make mistakes. Unlike some racing games where other cars stick perfectly to the racing line, expect to see them spin off corners, overshoot power ups and drive into walls after missing the car they where aiming for. There is also the 'No Exit' option, which puts you in a bowl and sees which car is the last one standing. You steer around these environments smoothly, the ‘cast pad letting you use either the d-pad or the analogue stick in an appreciated bit of control-themed generosity. The tracks all manage to look the part, having you race through junkyards, forgotten hick back-roads and pack-out arenas.

The cars you race (and, indeed, your own ride) start off all shiny and gleamy, and finish dented and steamy. The feeling of speed works as well, especially the scene-blurring nitro effect. The cars all look the part and the collisions look painful. Very painful. Little bits of cars get left on the track, and any wrecked cars sit where they broke and burn. It makes you feel proud. And happy you’re still whizzing round the track, not watching your ride get ready to explode.

The game has the odd moment of frustration, however. The League has its moments, but because of the way the AI works, no two races are the same. You may get a massive score, finish 2nd and be stuffed by the car that hit 1st and managed to kill off half the competition. On the other hand, you may finish first with very little points and win, the closest car to you mashed in a three-car pile-up up on the last lap, or T-BONE’d to death. Still, the amount of extras and hidden mini-games you uncover after every league is huge, this more then makes up for any little niggles. Remember Pong? There is a great DR-themed version hidden away for you to discover.

Demolition Racer: No Exit is a solid, manly game. The one-player league is good, with different challenges to overcome and rewarding you with heaps of extras to play with. And if you have a friend (and I know at least some of you do) then mashing him into a wall never gets old.


EmP's avatar
Staff review by Gary Hartley (April 24, 2007)

Gary Hartley arbitrarily arrives, leaves a review for a game no one has heard of, then retreats to his 17th century castle in rural England to feed whatever lives in the moat and complain about you.

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