We've seen quite a few crash and bash games on the consoles of late. From the fantastic Burnout 3 through to the more realistic Flatout, it seems bash and crash games are back in fashion. Driven to Destruction is Atari's attempt at getting in on this market and they are no stranger to the style, having shipped a number of Test Drive games in the past. Driven to Destruction is meant to be give you the life of a country road racer but fails to impress in a number of aspects despite its budget pricing.
The whole aim of the game is to work yourself up from a nobody to the most revered road racer in the country. To do this the game offers a number of modes to choose from, although this can really be filtered down to two main selections; career or action mode. There is no real storyline behind the game in that you're building the storyline as you go on. Whilst racing games mostly don't have a storyline, it really is a missing component from this because there isn't much to keep you going as you read about later in the review.
Driven to Destruction reminds us quite a bit of a game called Dirt Track Racing more than Flatout. Races either take part on open road or on setup dirt tracks and basically there are no rules. Bash and crash your way to the front and win money to further your career. The action mode is for those who just don't want to put up with upgrading and trading cars, driving around the place going into events and just plain doing frivolous non-racing things. The racing is fairly typical dirt circuit racing although some of the tracks do have some changes which really make the racing more challenging than perhaps it should be. There are times where the game takes control out of your hands in terms of whether you crash into other cars or not via jumps and crossover tracks.
The career mode is a bit like Grand Theft Auto 3, minus the getting out of the car and running around part. You start off in a country town having just been given an old car by your relatives. From there you have to drive to various sections of the town to take part in races, upgrade or trade in the car, meet up for a race sequence or just drive around. The thing that makes this almost pointless is that driving around doesn't do anything. Occasionally you will find someone to race but other than that it would have been better to just have a menu to select where you want to go. It doesn't help that the graphics are very bare and unimpressive either.
There are a variety of events you can take part in like destruction derbies and crossover races but when it boils down to it, all you do is race, crash into each other and try to avoid being smashed into. There are some unique races though such as the jump race where jumps are placed on the track, and a suicide race where you race with oncoming cars. Overall there are twenty five events to take part in. Each track has different events to race in but in the non-career mode you can race these styles any time.
One of the more interesting aspects of the game and something games like Gran Turismo should look into is permanent destruction. Basically this means that a certain percentage of your car just can't be repaired and when it gets to a certain point you have to replace it. This makes you try to avoid hitting your car. The flipside of this is that the cars are completely unlicensed, and neither are the parts that you add on. You do have the ability to unlock some cool cars to race with though such as a school bus and police car.
The visuals of the game are quite misleading. On the surface they look bland and boring but that's a factor due to the way the levels have been designed and where the game is set.. The tracks are fairly bland but the surrounding environments are quite detailed. One thing where the game definitely falls down is the lack of places to visit and see while driving around in the career mode. It has a great soundtrack but you can't help but feel that if the money used to license that part of the game was used on other bits of the game that the overall product could have been better.
Driven to Destruction is a fairly adequate crash n bash game but when compared to other games which have come out recently it just doesn't really compare. It may be a little cheaper but its worth forking out the extra for Flatout unless the modes unique to this game really impress you.