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Star Wars: Demolition

Score: 75%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Lucasarts/Activision
Developer: Luxoflux Corp.
Media: CD/1
Players: 1 - 4
Genre: Action/ Racing

Graphics & Sound:

Well, you’ve got to hand it to the folks at Luxoflux -- they can keep a framerate very, very solid. Of course, the ways that they do it may be a touch circumspect. The visuals of the game, which are solid, but much more sparse than I’d like (the Vigilante 8 series of games had lots of useless “clutter,” but most of that is gone here), drawn in a la Summoner while you play. You can see far enough into the distance to know what you’re doing, but it certainly is distracting. It’s understandable, though -- while the Dreamcast can pump awesome graphics when there’s a lot of occlusion, the open spaces of Star Wars: Demolition don’t lend themselves to ‘blocking’ very well. The vehicle models themselves are nice and detailed, and the maps (such that they are) are pretty as well. It all feels a little ascetic -- even the ancient temples on Yavin 4 feel clean -- but it gets the job done.

The same goes for the sound in the game. You’ve got your high-pitched blaster sounds, and a few booms and bangs depending on the weapons you use (getting louder and more interesting as the weapons get stronger, mind you), but you’ll find nothing here that’ll really impress you. To be honest, I can’t even recall if I heard music while I was playing the game. Well, it’s not quite that unmemorable, but it’s certainly nothing you’ll be tapping your toes to or remembering after the game. It’s suitable, but nowhere near the Epic levels of John Williams or Homeworld. The explosions are pretty nice, though.


What we have here is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Or, to be more precise, Vigilante 8 in Star Wars clothing. Made by the same folks that gave us the two V8 games, Star Wars: Demolition takes us to various locales in the Star Wars universe, and has us battling other inhabitants for fun and profit. Or, to be more precise, for the pleasure of Jabba and gamblers around the galaxy. Whatever. Plots in these types of games are usually nonexistent, and in the end, Demolition is all about blowing up the other guy.

And while it’s entertaining, it’s nothing you haven’t seen before. Yes, you get to play as Boba Fett, and you can even ride a Rancor as your “vehicle.” There’s the required large variety of weapons, such as torpedoes and missiles and even a tractor beam. Each vehicle also has its own “special attack,” which is often cool to see. But underneath all the Star Wars chrome, the maps set in places like the surface of the Death Star and the swamps of Dagobah, you’ve got Vigilante 8. And it’s a poor V8 at that.

There are quite a few game modes that you can play with in Demolition, and each mode has interesting things to offer. When you’re playing by yourself, you can compete in the Tournament, which is how you unlock new racers; you can do single Battles against other opponents, for the sheer enjoyment of blowing up enemies; and you can do a rather unique style of play where you place wagers based on how well the game thinks you can do, and the first person to 10,000 credits wins. There’s also a mode where you shoot lots of droids with lasers, but it feels like a throwaway.

There are also the requisite multiplayer modes, and up to four people can hop on and play at once. The multiplayer modes cause some frame-rate loss, of course, but not enough to really disrupt the flow of the game. And they’re probably where you’re going to get the most entertainment out of Demolition, if you get entertainment at all.

Why, you ask? Well, the game just doesn’t have any of the charm, the karma, the (dare I say it?) fun of the other Luxoflux titles. Destroying enemies in the game becomes more tiresome than entertaining, and you’ll find yourself wondering just how long a battle is -really- supposed to last. The mechanics of scale are off-whack. The levels aren’t all that much fun to ride around in. And the game itself just isn’t as much fun. What happened to ramming the bad guy into oblivion?

There are a few interesting mechanics. Using special weapons drains weapons energy, and you have both shields and health. Shields and weapons energy can be recharged at certain locations on the map, but it takes time and money that you may not have. These spots often become locuses of action -- or, at least, what Demolition offers in the way of action. And the vehicles still have that floaty style that you either love or hate. But it just doesn’t cohere the way that it did in V8.


On the standard mode, the A.I. can be amazingly idiotic. I've destroyed enemies while they were sitting in a healing area, oblivious to the fact that I was pummeling them with heavy weaponry. And I've seen them get stuck against things and do absolutely nothing. Of course, the auto-targeting system (which you can thankfully turn off) has a bad habit of tracking the completely wrong enemy, so it almost breaks even in the end. If you want a challenge, you can crank the difficulty up higher, but the challenge will come from keeping interested in the game long enough to need to crank the difficulty up.

Game Mechanics:

There’s flaky A.I., as previously stated. The controls are tight, which is to say, amazingly loose in Vigilante 8 style. There’s none of the theatrical feel of the other games, though, so the physics engine feels out of place. The weapons systems are easy to use and understand, and although they’re not particularly balanced, they weren’t in the other games either. The button scheme is easy to grasp once you know what they all do, and you’ll find yourself demolishing other competitors in a matter of minutes after sitting down with the game and playing around a bit. The menus are legible and sensible, if extremely drab.

Star Wars: Demolition is a decidedly unspectacular title. It’s a car combat game, but the genre has been treated better before this, with games by the same company no less. The game feels more like a cash-in and less like a genuine effort to make something original and entertaining. And while Star Wars fans may need to pick this up to complete their collection, the rest of the world can stick with the original Vigliante 8 for their car combat needs. The few new features that Demolition offers don’t make up for the duller gameplay.

-Sunfall to-Ennien, GameVortex Communications
AKA Phil Bordelon

Sony PlayStation 2 Robotech Invasion Sega Dreamcast Super Magnetic Neo

Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated