Racing Destruction Set (Electronic Arts) Review | Computer Gamer - Everygamegoing

Computer Gamer

Racing Destruction Set
By Ariolasoft
Commodore 64

Published in Computer Gamer #6

Tony Hetherington takes an in-depth look at a computerised, slot car racing game that will drive you to destruction.

Racing Destruction Set

Racing Destruction Set is a two player, computer slot car, racing set with a difference. For each player chooses his own racing machine ranging from dirt bike to Indy racer, arms it with oil, mines and a crusher before racing on any of the fifty supplied tracks or on one designed on the games track editor.

The race is contested on a Pitstop II style, split screen display which gives an overhead view of each car. The cars are joystick-controlled with the computer taking control of the second car if you're short of humans.

As soon as you've loaded in the game, you can start racing on a demo track between two unarmed Can-am racers. This gives you the feel of the cars and the jumps, bumps, bends and surfaces of the tracks that lie ahead.

The Tracks

The fifty pre-built tracks included in the game cater for all racing tastes as they span from a dirt track for bikes and jeeps through grand prix circuits to tracks designed for destruction races.

The grand prix circuits are all based on famous European and American tracks such as Monaco, Silverstone, Monza and Las Vegas. Here high speed duels are fought between Can-Am and grand prix cars. There are no jumps or weapons, just fast cars.

The American roadrace courses are a little more interesting with the inclusion of dirt and icy surfaces that make your choice of tyres important. As the wrong set may send you spinning out of the race.

If you prefer racing of the death and destruction variety then, like me, you'll head straight for the destruction tracks.

There consist of jumps that will test your car's power and suspension, bends to try out your steering, ice and dirt surfaces to get you spinning and crossovers to cause collisions.

They range from a simple oval track ("destruct") to the self explanatory "killer".

"Destruct" is the smallest possible circuit so it is inevitable that the racers will have ample opportunity to force each other off the raised track where they'll plummet to destruction.

"Killer" is less subtle as it contains a mixture of jumps, bends and crossovers that will guarantee that only one car will finish the race.

Between these two extremes are a selection of circuits with their own particular way of destroying the cars. For example "jumps" contain huge jumps that will trap light cars that can't get up the cars when they land. "Whichway" consists of seven different routes each with their own problems whereas "head-on" guarantees to aim both cars directly at each other at breakneck speed.

Finally, there are three test tracks including the ones used by Ferrari and Porsche on which you can try out your own custom designed car.

If you ever tire of the pre-built tracks, you can always use the game's track editor either to modify an existing circuit or to design your own from scratch. With the editor you can select basic pieces which you can modify before fitting in place. For example, a simple straight can be turned into a jump by adjusting the height of its various sections. Similarly a chicane can be constructed by altering the normal width of the road from 3 to 2 or maybe even 1.

The Cars

As there is an incredible variety of tracks to test the cars, there are nine basic types of vehicle from which a car can be custom-built to meet the challenge.

An open cockpit racer is ideal for grand prix circuits as is a Can-am road racer but Baja bug is more suited to motorcross races. Similarly a pickup, jeep or stock car can take the punishing jumps and a bike (dirt of street) can take the corners. Finally for the more bizarre, low gravity, moon races you should choose a lunar buggy.

Once you have selected your basic car you can fit a different engine, a new set of tyres and even arm it for battle.

The choice of tyres varies from car to car with some being restricted to only one type. For example, a dirt bike can only have dirt tyres. However, if you have a choice then look carefully at the traction figures on the screen display. These show the grip that a tyre will have on either dirt ice or paved surfaces. Obviously, you should choose the tyres best suited for the selected track.

Engine size is equally important as it not only effects the acceleration and top speed of the car but also its weight. In fact, there is a point where increasing the engine makes the car so heavy that it actually reduces the speed of the car. This also happens when you add armour and weapons for a destruction race.

Armour can be added to most cars to add protection in the inevitable collisions. Similarly a crusher can be fitted to inflict damage.

Oil cans can be fitted to leave oil slicks on the road to send your opponent spinning and mines to be dropped in his path. However, to retain some sanity, cars cannot carry both oil and mines. If they did, it is unlikely that either car would reach the first bend.

A good guide is to choose a car that will beat the track then arm it to beat your opponent.

Finally, you may have to modify your car selection to fit in with the extra "rules" that can be defined to add to the excitement.

Spicing Things Up

When you load the game the race is between to indestructable cars whose aim is to finish the two lap race first.

Changing the race to "destruction" adds armour and weapons to the contest and adjusting the difficulty level will now send extremely destructable cars off the track if they take a bend too quickly.

You can also alter the gravity between fourteen different settings ranging from the moon which is the lowest and Jupiter the highest. This will have a dramatic effect on a race since, for example, a light car taking a high jump at top speed on the moon may never land. Similarly a heavy car on Jupiter may be wrecked by the slightest bump.

Finally, you can also alter the number of laps, from 1 to 9 and choose between four different backgrounds includng a motorcross scene and lunar landscape.

Destruction Racing

Since normal racing consists of getting in the right lane and keeping your foot on the accelerator, there is little to be added to what's already been said about games such as Pole Position and Pitstop II. Destruction racing is something completely different.

Your choice of car will decide the tactics you will use. A fast, lightly armed car will try to outrun the opponent and win through speed alone. Whereas, a heavily armoured truck will try and take out the other car and win by default. If this sort of tactic is used and you manage to destroy your opponent, you only have to finish your current lap to win. Consequently, unless it is a 1 or 2 lap race you needn't try to keep up with the other car. Instead, you should set traps either by mugging them (forcing them off the road) or by carefully placed mines or oil slicks. The fun really begins if both of you have and use weapons.

It is important to realise that you can skid on oil that you've dropped and blow up on mines that you've placed so think carefully before you drop a mine on a one lane section. You can, however, do this quite effectively against a faster opponent who will hit the mine before you cross, what will become the finishing line.

Oil can be used in patches immediately in front of the other car to cause a quick skid which will slow him down or in planned slicks that will guide him off the road. Similarly, a mine dropped in front of a chasing opponent can end the race (depending on the difficulty level) or they can for more subtle effects be dropped on your opponent's own oil slick. The principle being that since you dropped it, you should avoid it. However, your opponent may guide you to your own mine with a well-placed oil slick.

Mines and oil slicks can be used to force your opponent to take a jump too quickly, either by an uncontrolled skid into it or having to hurdle a mine set at the bottom of it.

Whatever the tactics used, the game will certainly be eventful.


Racing Destruction Set is a computerised slot racing kit with so many variables, cars, tracks and rules, that it will challenge beginners and experts alike.

A series of joystick-controlled menus guide the players through the mammoth task of constructing their game and selecting their track. If they get bored with the fifty pre-built tracks then they can modify an existing one or build another from scratch. The track editor can be a little tricky to use as obviously each piece of track must fit its neighbours exactly. However, the editor only allows you to see one piece of track at a time and so it can take a while to complete your masterpiece.

The split screen race graphics are functional but not up to the standard of single track games such as Revs and Pitstop. This is more than compensated for by the increase in variety and fun caused by destruction racing.

Racing Destruction Set was written by American Software house Electronic Arts and is imported into the UK by Ariolasoft. The review is based on the C64 disk version, which will cost £14.95. Ariolasoft are planning C64 and Atari versions in the coming months.

Racing Destruction Set has brought a new dimension to car racing games. If it's not the ultimate racing game, it's certainly on the right track.

Tony Hetherington

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