Destruction AllStars review: Pedal to the metal pageantry

What happens when demolition derby takes on all the boisterous pageantry of professional wrestling? Find out in our review of Destruction AllStars

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It only takes seconds of playing or even looking at what Destruction AllStars offers to see this game is all about the spectacle. It’s a gameshow/sporting event fashioned around superstar drivers competing in an arena of car combat. Not quite Twisted Metal and not quiet Monday Night Combat, Destruction AllStars still elicits the good feelings that came of those things and packages it in a distinct glitz and glam that is not only foundationally solid, but has fantastic potential to grow, with just a few speedbumps to get past along the way.

Welcome to the Wrecktangle

Destruction AllStars isn’t just the name of the game. It’s also the name of the show therein. The titular program is an arena spectacle featuring viewership and stadiums around the world in which drivers/superstars compete to be the best of the best. Whether in solo or team modes, players pick one of the lively characters offered by the game's roster and jump into vehicles scattered around the arena to drive, crash, and wreck opponents in a collection of various game modes.

Right out of the gate, the aesthetic of Destruction AllStars looks drop-dead gorgeous with the PlayStation 5’s capabilities. The game is always at 60fps 4K pretty much without fail and handled itself well despite the sheer chaos going on at nearly all times. This is aided by the fact that the characters themselves are bombastic as all get out (that comparison to professional wrestling above is no joke), and their hearty personalities and themes translate to any vehicle for which they take control, not including having their own summonable “hero vehicles” that are an even further step above.

Take Bluefang for instance. He’s leather-clad action hero in a tiger mask and his hero vehicle is a roadster featuring a massive set of circular spinning blades on the front of it that he can use to annihilate other cars. Meanwhile, Jian is a prickly and dismissive child of privilege with a vehicle that can sprout spines like a hedgehog to keep him safe and do damage to foes. Then there’s Harmony, who is musical royalty with a sound blasting vehicle to match. Get up close and let loose with her vehicle and it will launch cars with the power of sound. Each of the characters in Destruction AllStars are wildly varied, infectiously over-the-top, and have fun functionality inside and outside their vehicles.

The only real bummer here in Destruction AllStar’s aesthetic is the unlockables. By leveling up and grinding with a character, you can unlock skins, emotes inside and outside the cars, and voice lines, but the skins are pretty much just color swaps right now. I’ll chock this up to launch, but I want way better cosmetic rewards for how cool and outlandish these character designs already are. I'm sure they might be coming, but it feels like a lost opportunity to not have them right out of the gate.

It’s a long road to the top if you wanna wreck n’ roll

At its foundation, as should be blatantly clear, Destruction AllStars is a demolition derby game. Players start off on foot and must commandeer standard vehicles that appear across the arena, including buggies, roadsters, pick-up trucks, SUVs and vans. Inside the vehicle, you have forward and sideways ramming capabilities that give you a speed boost in the direction you toggle, which you’ll want to use to deliver massive hits to other vehicles to wreck them for points. There’s a decent amount of speed and fluidity to the game, so it can be tough, but once you get caught in a fracas or land that big blind-siding hit, Destruction AllStars provides some pretty glorious feedback. And if you do well enough, you build a meter and can summon your character’s aforementioned hero vehicle with that character’s own unique abilities to cause even more carnage.

On foot, whether you’re just starting out or your vehicle got wrecked, forcing you to eject and escape, you can run around the field. You can use this opportunity to collect crystals to build your hero vehicle gauge faster, jump on vehicles and attempt to hijack them via a sort of rodeo minigame, or even knock other players on foot out with a charging attack. I’d say the foot game isn’t as great as the vehicle game. You’re basically in danger of being KO’d for easy points if you stay outside a vehicle for long. Getting your hero vehicle summon up with crystals can be good, but you can also raise that gauge through car combat, so it doesn’t feel entirely necessary. Car theft rodeo can also be fun if you have the room to pull it off, but it’s very easy to throw someone from the top of your vehicle by simply jerking your steering back and forth until they get shaken off. The foot game in Destruction AllStars could use just a bit of work to help it fit in better with everything else going on.

Destruction AllStars is mostly an online game right now, although you can play pretty much all of its modes offline as well. As of launch, there’s two solo modes and two 8-vs-8 team-based modes. Mayhem is your standard every-star-for-themselves deathmatch where player operates solo to try to rack up the most wrecks and points. Gridfall is a survival match in which players have one life and pieces of the arena fall away as the match progresses. Stockpile is a team match in which various “banks” sit in the arena. You collect points by crashing into opponents and can cash them in at the banks. Whichever team has the most points in a bank owns that bank and whichever team owns more banks at the end wins. Finally, Carnado is similar to Stockpile, only there’s a tornado in the middle that both destroys your vehicle and banks your points. It’s a race to cause as much carnage as possible and run your car into the tornado before your vehicle is wrecked and you lose all the points you’ve amassed.

For my experience, Mayhem and Carnado were definitely the best of the bunch. Mayhem feels like the purest distillation of what you do in the game in a sort of Deathmatch destruction derby mode. Meanwhile, Carnado has the most interesting nuance to it. How long will you bank points? Will you turn in early to preserve what you collected or will you push your points to the limit and risk losing them if you get smashed to bits? Add to this the fact that hijacking someone’s car means you can steal the vehicle’s amassed points and Carnado was easily the most exciting.

What I don’t like about all this is that Destruction AllStars has in-game voice chat that's turned on by default and there’s no option to disable it permanently or choose whether or not you want to hear people yell at you before you can switch it off. I’ve found that the current workaround to this issue is to just start a voice chat party to switch away from the in-game voice channel, but it’s still kind of lame that one has to find a workaround at all instead of just having a simple option for it in the game.

A dazzling demolition derby

As far as gameshow/sporting event-style games go, Destruction AllStars is maybe some of the most fun I’ve had in a while. I love the pageantry when a match starts and my character does their intro before kicking things off. The visuals are smooth and pristine throughout the fast-paced action and the gameplay in different modes is absolutely delightful. I would like the foot game to be boosted a bit, and it desperately needs some better cosmetics and an easy-access Mute All function, but there’s an absolutely enthralling foundation here in Destruction AllStars. I want to see more characters, more arenas, events… I want to see where Destruction AllStars goes in the long run and I’ll be happy to keep playing as we work our way there.


This review is based upon a PlayStation 5 digital edition of the game obtained through PS Plus. Destruction AllStars is available on PS5 now.

News Editor

TJ Denzer is a player with a passion for games that has dominated a lifetime. When he's not handing out beatdowns in the latest fighting games, exploring video game history, or playing through RPGs with his partner, he's searching for new food and drinks in the constant pursuit of good times with good people inside and outside the South Texas area. You can also find him on Twitter @JohnnyChugs.

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Pros
  • Fantastic over-the-top roster of characters
  • Crisp 4K 60fps game play even in the thickest chaos
  • Standard vehicles and hero vehicles are solidly varied
  • Launching game modes are good
  • Gameshow/sports aesthetic is well implemented
Cons
  • Launch cosmetics are very dull
  • On-foot game could use some spice
  • No default all-mute function for in-game chat
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