Drifting onto the scene with the confidence of a large, roaring monster truck, Destruction AllStars arrived this month in the latest offering for PS Plus members. Players would be smart to rev up their PS5s to claim this bright smash-em-up while it’s free, because while the engine sure does make a lot of noise, there isn’t a lot going on under the hood.
Grooving and gesticulating your way onto the arena as one of the sixteen over-the-top playable characters, many players will be instantly reminded of the smooth-rounded walls of Rocket League, and that sentiment will continue as you drop your character into a vehicle and blast off for the first time. Destruction AllStars thrives on the idea of this youthful, bouncy playfulness, that at times even captured the essence of Doritos Crash Course—if you know, you know. While you won’t be jumping across assault courses or knocking giant balls into explosive nets, you’ll be smashing, swerving, and weaving your way around a variety of arena in a collection of highly smashable vehicles.
Get in a vehicle, smash other vehicles, don’t get smashed. Just like Rocket League, that is about as complicated as it gets, and its pure premise meant that after its short tutorial I was already drifting and smashing like I had been doing it for years. With a robust feel to driving, it’s incredibly fun to cruise your way around (and into) other vehicles.
The odd choice to place the ram function on the right stick in place of any kind of camera control does irritate when years of gaming dictate that you should be able to control your vision, and this becomes all the more annoying when its automatic camera loses all sense of direction when you ramp yourself up its walls. However, after a few hours, those accidental rams subside as you learn to work with its camera and controls.
Despite solid driving mechanics, however, the game simply lacks variety in its content. As it stands, AllStars features only four modes at launch, a mix of both team-based and solo games. Among them, Carnado stands out the most, as it has you gathering “parts” by ramming your opponents before banking them in an explosive tornado. A knockout will cause your scraps to be lost, but they become more plentiful the further you push, creating a nice layer of tension as you flirt with the danger of losing it all. The following modes—Mayhem, Gridfall, and Stockpile—struggle to achieve the same chaotic level of entertainment, with Gridfall coming closest as a slow-paced, screeching tires version Fall Guys’ Hex-A-Gone stage.
Rocket League has proven that players don’t need countless modes to keep them entertained, and while Destruction AllStars is fun, unlike Rocket League it lacks any long-standing replayability. Team play is disappointing and, eventually, its modes begin to feel all too similar. Its premise is great, harking back to the likes of Cel Damage, but it also lacks the game mode it needs to spark that addictive spirit that has kept similar titles afloat for so long.
While most of its modes may be lacking, AllStars has another trick stuffed in the boot. Players can abandon their cars on the brink of combustion, to jump, dodge, and wall run on foot in the search of a new set of wheels. It bolsters the frenetic energy that Allstars clammers for and pulling off the perfect switch at just the right moment can make you feel like a little digital Dominic Toretto—especially when you introduce hero vehicles with shredders, slicers, and impenetrable shields. You’ll not want to spend too much time on foot, however, as eventually its finicky ledges and bounding leaps scrape off some of that polish, but there is no doubt that it keeps the moment-to-moment gameplay feeling fresh.
Speaking of polish brings us to the undeniably fantastic graphics. Character animations, damage to vehicles, and even the lights and fireworks littering the skylines of its globe-spanning arenas help AllStars look like a AAA title—which is only reinforced by the aforementioned feel to driving mechanics. It’s from this, however, that AllStars‘ biggest future flaw comes into place. While it’s great fun for short bursts of time as a PS Plus game, as a fully priced game reaching upwards of £60—which the game will arrive at after April 5—there is no world in where this game is worth more than £20, even at a push. It is for that reason that I think its free offering on PS Plus this month may have breathed some life into a property doomed to fail. Yet to all those missing out this month—which is likely a lot considering the continued stock struggled of PS5 consoles—Destruction AllStars will fade out of memory unless a steep reduction of price is applied quickly.
Destruction AllStars is like a well-oiled machine—it looks the part and does the job. However, once the thrills of landing the perfect slam or launching yourself from an imminent K.O. fade away, what is left is a relatively shallow experience that will struggle to keep you playing longer than a dozen hours. That may be fine for those swiping this up during its stint on PS Plus, but for anyone paying their hard-earned cash for this lacklustre experience, well… you’re in for an expensive ride.