The unfortunate side of the video game industry is the fact that good games sometimes get overlooked due to a low advertising budget or other reasons. It’s too bad because, over the years, there have been a lot of great titles that have failed to achieve good sales numbers due to a lack of product awareness within the general public. Hopefully the recent independent budget title, Mayhem 3D, developed by Left-Field Productions, will not slip through the proverbial cracks.
An action packed, creative and dirt-spraying demolition derby/racer, Mayhem 3D is a creative title that does a good job at what it aims to do, for an affordable price. Providing creative and fun entertainment that will keep you coming back for more, it does a good job of scratching the destruction derby itch that many gamers have been feeling.
Insert the disc and enter a world where only the manliest men are willing to compete at dangerous demolition derbies and crash-filled races, at what are essentially the fairgrounds from Hell. It’s like you’re transported back to the 1970s through a comic book, Sin City and grindhouse inspired telescope. A world where everything is black and white except for the dark red sky and the occasional hint of yellow. An environment only the victor ever returns from. Listen to the explosions and keep your heartbeat in check as you slam your metallic beast against others, praying that all of the other cars will explode before yours. It’s a dangerous life being a demolition racer, but it’s never been this chaotic or risk intensive before.
The comic book styling isn’t limited to just the game’s visuals. It plays a huge role in the entire structure of the experience, including its campaign. As virtual combatants rev their way through the game’s ten-tiered campaign, they unlock performance stars based on their results. These stars are utilized to unlock new challenges, which come in the form of different comic book issues – all of which take a grindhouse theme mixed with horror elements. This campaign features a variety of different events, though most only take a few minutes to complete at the most, leaving the mode’s overall length clocking in at several hours. It’s brief, but creative enough to make you come back for a second or third playthrough.
As mentioned previously, there are a variety of different challenge types. However, they’re predominantly just variations upon a couple main game modes – races and demolition derbies. Generally speaking, the demolition derbies are as you’d expect, though a great emphasis is placed on strategic attacking/defense, with a diagram showing the damage to each panel of your vehicle – front and back. It’s fun and fast-paced. The elements found within the demolition derbies carry over to the races, as the figure eight and corner-filled tracks take pride in putting you against oncoming traffic in the form of your competition. Wrecks are inevitable, with the winner being the one who can avoid the carnage the best, while accounting for some potentially slippery and dirty conditions.
It’s evident that Mayhem 3D was more than just work to the development team. It feels like a passion project, as there’s a lot of obvious care and creativity that was put into it. The development team attempted to avoid repetition by including variations that alter the two main game types. In the career, you’ll find yourself faced with unique obstacles and challenges such as an attempt to pick up as many parts from wrecked vehicles as possible within a time limit, or fighting against time to push all of your opponents off of the track and into an explosive pit below. Their effort should be commended because it shows that they were thinking outside of the box, but repetition still plays an unfortunate role due to a lack of a great amount of different modes. All of these game types are recycled throughout the campaign, with different goals and time limits and can tend to feel similar over the course of the ten issues.
Rounding out the experience are both an exhibition mode, with settings decided by the user, as well as both online and offline multiplayer. The two basic modes are available for competitive play, though it’s unfortunately next to impossible to find any other players online. Hopefully more people will give it a chance, to allow the mode to reach its potential, because it feels like something that could be quite fun with several other players and their unpredictable habits. Playing with friends through one console is a lot of fun though, so it’s great that they included that option. Most games tend to omit split-screen multiplayer options these days, which is a shame.
Strategy plays a big role not only in the way you smash your opponents, but also within the type of vehicle you choose. Progression (and the stars earned) rewards players with unlockable vehicles, tracks and game options – though you generally only need to complete the campaign to unlock most of them. Vehicle types include everything from hot rods, sedans and station wagons to monster trucks, all of which have their own strengths and weaknesses. Approximately twenty different variations upon each vehicle type are available – each with their own campy names, decals and statistics. The only issue with this is the fact that a lot of the variations within each vehicle type have the same stats.
For the most part, the game ran quite well, without many gameplay glitches or frame rate hiccups. Though there’s one strange bug that might frustrate some people, it’s not at all game breaking. It seems like installing the game’s 540mb install file prevents its achievements from unlocking for some reason. Deletion of the install file solved the problem, and everything worked well afterwards. Achievement (and trophy) addicts will be in love with the in-game list because it’s one of those games that awards you heavily with relatively easy achievement challenges.
As its name suggests, Mayhem 3D is capable of three-dimensional visuals. However, it’s not the innovative new type of 3D that has become available for home entertainment. Instead, the game utilizes the old red and blue glasses, two of which are included with each forty dollar copy of the game. Players can use a dial that goes from 0 to 10 to choose the amount of 3D depth they’d like – or none at all. Surprisingly, it works quite well as opposed to being a gimmick. The 3D looks quite good and adds a lot of old-school charm to the game, though the glasses can provide a headache after certain amounts of time. This visual option is nowhere near a necessity to enjoy the game to its fullest, so those who don’t like 3D should still give this game a chance. Those who do enjoy it should keep in mind that you have to turn it on through the menu, as the game will start in 2D mode.
The 3D visuals go well with the game’s comic book inspired look. With a visual style reminiscent of both campy comic books and the Sin City graphic novels, it’s not hard to tell where the development team’s inspiration came from. However, style like this is something that we gamers don’t see very often in our interactive media and it should be applauded. Visual clarity is decent, but could be better. For a low budget development project, it’s pretty impressive. There’s no style over substance here, thankfully.
The only major drawback to the game’s presentation is a lack of audio variety. The same song plays over and over again throughout the menus, which may annoy some people. Additionally, there is little sound during the events other than the noises the vehicles make, and a muffled PA announcer. However, for the most part, the included audio does sound pretty good. It’s just too bad that the opportunity to add an infusion of character through more songs, dialogue and/or other audio clips, wasn’t realized.
It must be said: Mayhem 3D is one of the most creative video game releases in recent years. It’s unlike just about everything else out there on the market – especially in terms of its visual style. It’s well-made and unique, despite a lack of audio variety and its aforementioned issues and gameplay that doesn’t feel as creative as its surrounding presentation. Gamers who have been itching for something different (or even just a demolition derby game) will really appreciate the effort that was put into this one. Please support this title so that it won’t fall through the cracks.
For forty dollars, there’s certainly a lot of very enjoyable content to be found on the disc – enough to warrant a purchase. Once you give it a try, you’ll want to have it on your shelf so that you can revisit it with friends and family. While it may not be perfect, it’s a heck of a lot of fun. There also haven’t been enough demolition derby games in recent years, so it fills a huge void.
An action packed, creative and dirt-spraying demolition derby/racer, Mayhem 3D is a creative title that does a good job at what it aims to do.