Destruction AllStars review

Destruction AllStars is a new smash ’em up driving game from Lucid Games recently released on PS5 via PlayStation Plus. If you have this service then you can pick it up for free, which is probably the best for this game. Originally this was slated as a launch title for PS5 but the release was pushed back. It’s fun at times, but after a few hours into the game you’ll probably be relieved you didn’t pay for this one.

Destruction AllStars is an arcade arena game where you get to drive around a number of vehicles with the main goal of smashing into other players and destroying their cars. You have a few moves, boosts forward and to the side, to increase the intensity of the smashes plus you can hop out of the cars and try to perform hostile takeover moves on other cars.

Jumping out of the cars sounds like fun, but this leaves you very vulnerable to attack as there are multiple cars in the arena so you’ll have to have eyes in the back and to the side of your head. When you’re out of the car and running around on foot you do have ‘breaker’ special moves that give you a boost to your mobility that includes speed and additional jump abilities, but when you’re faced with cars these feel a little weak. The one benefit of jumping out of the car is that you’re going to need to collect shards, which build up a super meter. Fill up the super meter and release that while you’re in your car and you’ll unleash the ‘hero car’, which can be very powerful and lead to plenty of destruction.

When you’re in the car the game is pretty fun, albeit for a short spell. The cars feel pretty good to drive and manoeuvre around the arenas. The game falls a little short when it comes to smashing into each other though. There’s a slow-mo which gives some weight to impact, but otherwise, it doesn’t feel as good as it should smashing into other cars. The arenas also feel similar to each other and don’t have the depth of Mario Kart Battle modes.

There are four main game modes which cater for up to 16 players. Mayhem, which is your standard free-for-all player vs player mode, and it’s down to scoring the most points for a win. To get the points you have to smash into each other and take out opponents, plus taking out other players if they decide to get out of their vehicles.

There are vehicles dotted around the map and you’ll find yourself jumping in and out of them on a regular basis. Cars on the map are pretty much weapons to use which can be linked to weapon classes like light, medium and heavy attacks. The trick to the game is to hop into a car, use it until it’s about to be junked and then jump out into another one before it explodes.

In terms of tactics, the game is pretty light. The best bet is to try and get your hero car mode as soon as you can. Some are much more powerful than others, so it’s really down to which character you choose, which makes the tactical play feel like it has even less depth than before. The lack of thinking in this game is perhaps one advantage. This isn’t Valorant or CS:GO, there’s not going to be a lot of tactical play – just hop into a car and try and cause as much damage as possible in the shortest space of time to win.

As well as the online play you can hone your skills in arcade modes which will let you practice any of the other four game modes against bots instead of real-life players. There are three maps in total at the moment, but it’s pretty difficult to say which one is the best because they all feel the same. There’s a shallow customise mode too, which has your classic emotes and skins, which you can buy through in-game currency or purchase via real money. Personally, I’m not going to be sinking any money into this game.

Talking of spending real money this brings us to the Challenge Series mode. Currently, the game has three in total, and you have seven unique challenges across the variety of game modes. It’s kind of a career or story mode which includes some cut scenes between characters, but to progress, you have to pay for it. Initially, you get one challenge for free which you have rewarded some basic cosmetics, then if you want to do the challenge of another character you have to pay. This feels like a bit of a drag considering the rewards don’t feel worth it and there’s essentially a massive paywall to potentially some of the best content in the game.

The launch and subsequent discovery of this feel off. The game was initially going to be a launch game, presumably at £70. If I had paid £70 for the game, I would be very disappointed as I think it only held my attention for a few hours and offered me little incentive to come back. I don’t know if this microtransaction paywall was put into the game in a hasty decision after it was decided this would go onto PS Plus, but it doesn’t feel good and it doesn’t motivate me to a) play for very much longer than I have to related to this review and b) recommend it to others.

On the positive side of things the game looks beautiful and takes advantage of the PS5 capabilities. The character and car designs are very cool and the whole game is bright, bombastic and there are fleeting moments of real fun in here. It ould really do with a killer soundtrack to go along with the action as you race around in the car trying to smash into your opponents, but the audio department is seriously lacking. Related to the audio there has been an issue with the launch, where the game turns on voice chat by default, and your controller mic too. You can’t mute individual players, which seems pretty obtuse in 2021 – especially if you have someone screaming offensive expletives down the other end of the internet at you, or the whole lobby.

There are definitely some issues here with the game, that’s for sure. It feels like another game that was released too early, with some major issues either not being picked up or rushed through. There’s definitely marketing pressure here, first is was to get the game out at the launch of the PS5, and secondly to get into the PS Plus window for February. It’s a shame because you can feel it as a player.

Destruction AllStars has it’s moments. It looks great, sometimes feels great and when you have a full lobby of players all smashing and crashing around there are moments of having a good time. The controls are pretty tight, it’s a great looking game too. It’s free at the moment through PS Plus, so given you don’t have to pay to jump into the game then I think it’s worth picking up and having a go. You don’t have to engage with the micro-transactions if you don’t want to and make sure you have a look into your audio settings, otherwise, you could be sharing (or hearing) more than you bargained for.

Developer: Lucid Games
Publisher: Sony
Platform: PlayStation 5
Release date: 2nd February 2021