Here at BangShift, we like to kick back every once in a while by picking up the ol’ video game controller and raise hell on the small screen. And of course, since this an automotive-related blog staffed by a bunch of crazed gearheads, you know we love games that involve all sorts of vehicles. Aside from being obsessed with all things automotive, I have personally been infatuated with video games nearly all my life, and some of my favorite types of games (naturally) are car-related. Driving games are nearly as old as video games themselves, and we’ve talked about an early example called Dragster for the Atari 2600 before, as well as asked you what your favorite games were. I recently found myself perusing my collection of games looking for a cool game to talk about here, and rediscovered a classic: Test Drive: Eve of Destruction!
Why should you care? Let’s put it this way: Have you ever wanted to drive a car in a host of county fair-style demolition derby events without dealing with scrapes and soreness the day after? Or better yet: have you been looking for a decent demolition derby simulator in order to test out some new maneuvers you thought up? Well, either way, this is your game!
Why this game is so good: This game was released back in 2004 for the PlayStation 2 and original Xbox. Yeah, by today’s standards, it’s old. But as you know, old doesn’t necessarily mean it’s bad. This game was developed by a company called Monster Games (no affiliation with the energy drink). Monster was experienced with creating accurate driving simulators, and had a few NASCAR games under it’s belt which were considered very good at the time. One might call them too good, as rival game developer Electronic Arts ponied up the cash for an exclusivity clause in their licensing the NASCAR brand, so Monster was shut out of making more NASCAR games for the foreseeable future. The kicker: Monster had just developed a brand new, more realistic simulator engine including a more accurate damage modelling system. Having invested so much time into the new game engine, they didn’t want it to go to waste, and since the damage modelling was very advanced for the time, they switched gears and replaced all the shiny stock cars with rusty, terrible junkers! So basically, it’s the video game equivalent of a clapped out 1976 Ford LTD body sitting on top of the chassis and engine of a brand new Sprint Cup car. Yeah, that’s awesome!
So, what’s it like? In this game, you have two basic modes: Career and Action. In Career mode, you start off in a podunk, dirt road town with an economy car and some attitude, and you’ll race in different events in order to earn money and buy less terrible cars, with the goal of being the #1 demo derby driver in all the land. In Action mode, the game is a lot simpler: you pick a venue, pick the style of race you want to participate in (more on that later) and go crazy with the car of your choice. Speaking of the cars, there’s all sorts of not-quite-real vehicles in the game, ranging from faux Chevettes and Pacers, to Rancheros and Chevelles, and even school buses and hearses! And the racing… oh man, it’s GREAT. There are TONS of different types of races, including fairground favorites like the Figure 8 (with or without jumps) and the traditional Demolition Derby, races where you have to drag a trailer behind you without losing it, “Suicide” races where the cars do their best impression of the big battle scene in Braveheart, and even a mode called “Detention” where you drive a school bus and have to destroy a group of compact cars that are running from you! Better yet, there are a number of different venues in the game, and each race is slightly different depending on which one you are visiting. The graphics, even though they are a couple generations behind, still hold up well today, and it’s extremely satisfying when you crash your heap into one of the competitors’ cars. The damage system is pretty good as well, and if you get hit or crash, you’ll know it. Here’s some gameplay of the game for you to enjoy:
But wait… there’s more! With modern game consoles, there are “achievements” and “trophies” you can get for meeting certain requirements during gameplay. It’s a cool way to keep people interested in the games, but back in 2004, game consoles didn’t really have this feature. Instead, smart game developers would keep people playing by offering unlockable bonus content. Test Drive: Eve of Destruction has some of the coolest bonus content I’ve seen in any game. Instead of developer interviews or boring stuff like that, the guys that made the game actually went to real demo derby events and interviewed competitors and captured actual footage of the insanity! Some genius compiled a video of all the bonus content and posted it up on YouTube, which is posted below for your enjoyment!
There’s just one caveat. This game is hard to find, and has been trending upwards in value recently. It is one of the best games that solely focuses on sheer car destruction, and outside of the car-related portions of the Grand Theft Auto games, nothing comes close. Right now, it’s hovering around the $30 range for a decent, complete-in-box copy, and even at that price, it’s worth dragging the ol’ PS2 or original Xbox out of the closet and dusting it off. I recommend the Xbox version, as it plays a bit smoother due to the more powerful hardware. You can also load custom soundtracks to the Xbox to replace the one that ships with the game, if that’s your thing. If you can find either version at a decent price, snag it! It’s 100% BangShift Approved!