Destruction AllStars SHOULD Have Been Twisted Metal
VOICE OVER: Ty Richardson
WRITTEN BY: Ty Richardson
Sony published a vehicular combat game called “Destruction AllStars” in February 2021. Players can choose from a moderate roster of characters, each with their own abilities and special vehicles. But...doesn't Sony have one of those already? In this video we'll be looking at why Destruction AllStars should have been a new Twisted Metal game instead. Do you play DAS? Are you a Twisted Metal fan? Let us know in the comments below!
Script written by Ty Richardson
Destruction AllStars SHOULD Have Been Twisted Metal
Ever since its reveal, “Destruction AllStars” has had this weird feeling attached to it. Something uncanny, like something is missing or we were witnessing something akin to “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”. Here’s this new vehicular combat game from Sony and Lucid Games with a “Fortnite” artstyle, but...doesn’t Sony have one of those already? Why does this new thing feel off? Shouldn’t we have just gotten a new “Twisted Metal” instead? Judging by the feedback from critics and players, some bets probably shouldn’t have been made.
Greetings, ladies and gentlemen of the internet! I’m Ty with MojoPlays, and today, I’m telling you “Destruction AllStars” SHOULD Have Been “Twisted Metal”.
In case you’re not up to speed, Sony published a vehicular combat game called “Destruction AllStars” in February 2021. Players can choose from a moderate roster of characters, each with their own abilities and special vehicles. Matches see players jumping in and out of various cars as they try to smash each other to pieces. In the months leading up to launch, the game received heavy criticism for wanting a $70 price tag; in response Sony lowered the price to twenty bucks and made it free on PlayStation Plus for February and March. Even so, it failed to impress upon release, and sits at 63 on Metacritic with a 5.3 user score.
But I’m not here to tell you what everyone else thought. While I am disgruntled that the “Twisted Metal” franchise has been left by the wayside (not counting the upcoming TV show adaptation), I felt it was only fair to at least give “Destruction AllStars” a chance. After all, I’ve played a lot of other vehicular combat games and have come around to liking even titles like “WWE Crush Hour” and the “Carmageddon” games. Surely, “Destruction AllStars” must have had something to bring to the table other than a recycled “Fortnite”-esque artstyle and basic demolition derby gameplay.
But to be honest, there are a couple of things “Destruction AllStars'' does really well. I genuinely mean that. It’s cool how the game utilizes the DualSense’s adaptive triggers to replicate the feeling of stepping on the gas and brakes, and seeing wrecks in slow-motion is a neat touch to the offline modes. Everything else falls apart, though, and it ends up making me want to go and play the older vehicular combat games. Allow me to elaborate.
The first problem with “Destruction AllStars” was its narrative and characters. The game does absolutely nothing to build itself outside of the “sports show” aesthetic. Character campaigns consist of nothing but “you talked smack” or “you did a thing I didn’t like, therefore we fight!” Ultimo Barricado competes against Jian because he doesn’t think a rookie belongs here. Well, what about this place makes it so special, dude? ...Oh, we aren’t going to explore that? These stories end just as disappointingly as they start out, too, conjuring up excuses to miraculously resolve the conflict with nothing lost and nothing gained. The entire cast has the same egotistical hotshot showboat personality, and it makes the game extremely stale. The fact that every ending is everyone becoming friends again is monotonous and cringe-inducing. And don’t even get me started on the repetitive dialogue and “jokes”.
I’m not saying everyone needs a dramatic backstory, but at least previous vehicular combat games gave their characters reasons to compete against each other. In “Twisted Metal”, we saw psychopathic drivers fighting for the chance to win whatever their heart desired. In “Cel Damage”, it was various cartoon characters competing to win a game show and become stars. “WWE Crush Hour” made the story about overthrowing Mr. McMahon in order to return WWE to its wrestling programs instead of all the nonsense spin-off shows. All three of these games gave their cast a reason to be there, and sometimes, characters did have ties to one another.
“Destruction AllStars” doesn’t do anything to explain the point. Why are these characters here? Do they have any reason besides wanting to compete and be #1? That’s great, but WHY do you want to be the top dog? Are you wanting to use the money for something, or is it just the rep? What. Is. The. Goal!? Nothing is justified. Stuff happens and you’re expected to just roll with it. It ends up making the cast seem like they were rejected ideas for other games, but no one wanted to throw them away.
The other problem with “Destruction AllStars” is the level design. Even though every stage is named differently, they all feel the same - a wide open arena with a few environmental hazards. This only reinforces the strategy of playing chicken. You know, just ram each other at full speed or sideswipe to get out the way or push another car. But there’s nothing to keep the player on their toes.
“Twisted Metal”, “Vigilante 8”, “Cel Damage”, and even “WWE Crush Hour” knew how to put together an arena that forced the player to come up with some degree of strategy. There are stage hazards, ramps, hidden areas, special rooms that could potentially let you flank someone. And sometimes, exploring these areas would net you rewards like a power-up or health pick-up. If you look at the maps from these games, you’ll see that they use a mix of wide open areas to contain the havoc and narrow pathways to encourage players to chase each other and race to grab power-ups. There’s this push-shove mentality of picking up a ton of power-ups, unloading on some poor soul, and then rushing out of there when someone catches you at low health.
“Destruction AllStars” simply doesn’t have a strong philosophy in its level design. Spinning blades? No big deal, you can still drive in their general direction and avoid them entirely. Giant hammer located in a very specific portion of the map? Cool, guess I’m just not going over there. At least in the aforementioned games, the stage was also the enemy. Here, it feels like a slightly lethal “Fall Guys” course left unfinished. There are no incentives to really drive around, and with pickups only being the shards you can grab on foot, you’re better off jumping in and out of cars as they approach low health. That mechanic alone doesn’t make the game anymore exciting either. Oh, my car’s about to explode? Cool, there’s another ten feet away. No biggie.
Then, there’s the way that the limited single-player game modes seem designed to herd players towards paywalled content. While you’ll always have access to the PvP modes Mayhem, Carnado, Gridfall, and Stockpile, the few single-player campaigns you can access are tediously structured. Hope you like time trials because there’s a big helping of that! Skirmish is literally just “wreck more enemies than your rival”. And Transporter is just “Crazy Taxi”. Yes, you can grind and try to earn premium currency through weekly objectives, but this could have been a good way to let players pick a character, learn how their abilities work, and hone their skills. Instead, you have to pay for each campaign just to play two of the good modes, all three of the boring ones, and then, a Showdown with a rival. You really aren’t getting much bang for your buck.
Adding to the frustration is how unbalanced the game actually is, specifically when it comes to Bluefang. This guy has an attack that can insta-kill up to four enemies in one trigger. Every other character vehicle has special abilities that deal indirect damage or boost defenses. Yeah, there are reportedly nerfs coming, but you gotta wonder how no one noticed his obscene offensive capabilities prior to launch.
So, should “Destruction AllStars” have been a “Twisted Metal” game instead? Well, not in its current state. “Twisted Metal” as a destruction derby would simply not fly with the fanbase. No, this is more like “Carmageddon”; that is more destruction derby whereas “Twisted Metal” is more of a shooter. What hurts is that “Carmageddon” still arguably did many aspects of the vehicular combat genre better than “Destruction AllStars”. Vehicle designs are more unique, the characters aren’t obnoxious but are still cartoony in their own ways, and the level design is more varied in structure (even if it can come off as scatterbrained at times). Admittedly, the games get chaotic at times, but at least there’s more going on when compared to the dull nature of “Destruction AllStars”.
I was familiar with Lucid Games before, having had a decent amount of fun with 2018’s “Switchblade”. No, it wasn’t a MOBA to set the world on fire, yet for what it was, it was solid. But for their first heavily-marketed AAA game, why “Destruction AllStars”? With Sony as their publisher, did anyone bring up the idea of simply bringing back “Twisted Metal”? Why was “Destruction AllStars” chosen to be one of the first PS5 exclusives when its gameplay is monotonous, its characters are annoying, and it fails to do anything interesting with the vehicular combat genre? It’s sort of astonishing that PlayStation is continuing to champion this game like it was a technical marvel.
There’s a reason why folks such as myself are dying to see Sweet Tooth again, and it’s not just because we haven’t had a new game in almost a decade. “Twisted Metal” was one of PlayStation’s first games, there’s heritage here. And what made the series so special was the creative character and vehicle design. The level design would also blueprint how to keep tensions high through different pathways and areas, encouraging cat-&-mouse gameplay. It’s an example of how to effectively implement moment-to-moment gameplay, and several vehicular combat games would follow in “Twisted Metal’s” footsteps.
With all that in mind, yes, “Destruction AllStars” SHOULD Have Been “Twisted Metal”!