Dash of Destruction
It’s been a whole twelve months since the last free arcade games hit Xbox Live, when Carcassone, Undertow and Yaris and Aegis Wing were all given away. After winning the Unlock Xbox competition, Mike Borland has seen his gaming idea turned into an achievement whoring reality. Released on 17th December, Dash of Destruction is a Christmas gift to all Xbox 360 owners in the shape of a top-down action game, complete with advertising from Doritos to keep those development costs down.
The incredibly short game consists of twelve levels in which you race around cities as either a Doritos delivery wagon or a T-Rex; the wagon delivering and the T-Rex eating the wagons. The controls are fool-proof due to core mechanics being so basic, and controlling whichever ‘character’ you’re playing as feels like skating across an ice rink. Whether you succeed or not in the mission comes down to luck and the camera rather than judgement. In latter levels, competition comes from either another van or dinosaur which can be either overwhelmingly efficient, or pace around the map with no sense of purpose.
As the player progresses, various attachments are added to the character, although these are utterly uninspired which either make the player faster or allow for faster turn speeds. Neither are going to revolutionise the experience, as player success comes down to luck of where the delivery vans spawn. The predictability of it takes away any sense of achievement, no matter what the easy gamerscore says.
Online multiplayer sees players choosing from two different game types and ultimately plays the same as the single player, so is shamelessly repetitive. Despite the majority of Live users now owning the game, don’t expect to find anybody online after a week or two of release. For the present though, competition is rich as completists strive for the most difficult achievement in the entire game – winning a single online match. ‘Seriously. 3.0’ if ever there was one.
One feature which adds a minute, yet welcome bit of soul to the game is the ‘commentaries’ by the competition winner, who pops up on occasional loading screens with stereotypical ramblings, mainly insinuating that the sole reason for playing the game is for the gamerscore. It’s a welcome touch that makes the player feel on the same level as the developers, who acknowledge that this will be treated as a throwaway ten minute distraction compared with this season’s AAA titles. Dash of Destruction feels like a third rate GBA release.
And that in all is all Dash for Destruction will ever be, a brief distraction from a never-ending chain of blockbuster epics. Those hit hardest by the credit crunch could probably squeeze an evening or two’s play from the online mode with a group of friends, but then again after making them play it excessively they won’t want to be your friends; I wouldn’t. Turns out it’s not just the best things in life which are free.