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Destruction II

Published by Nocturnal Development
Price $9.95
Primary Genre Secondary Genre

"Plot (noun): The story or plan of a play, novel etc." [Collins Concise Dictionary.]

"You have 13 hours to solve the Labyrinth..." S HUSSAIN'S WEAPON STORE (open 24hrs)

Some computer games are so big they require a plot to explain what is going on, such as Frontier: Elite 2. Others have such a simple premise that they require little or no plot, such as Space Invaders or Pacman. Many big commercial releases are the former. Indie games are often the latter. Destruction II is no exception.

Destruction II is a game for two players. Equip your men with an assortment of weapons, ammunition, grenades, dynamite charges and special 'secret' weapons to surprise your opponent. Then both little men are placed into a maze of twisting walls (which can be blown apart by the dynamite) in the attempt to hunt down your opponent and kill him - before he kills you. Pick up items and powerups on the way, and watch out for the enemy robots and vehicles.

A-maze-ing decor with...neon! Guns, Guns, Guns...

Nocturnal Development have taken a retro approach with this game, deciding that too many of today's games focus more on the graphics and sound than on the gameplay. As a result, Destruction II is based more on games from some ten years ago. I didn't appreciate what this meant until I started my first game, entered the maze and nearly fell off my chair.

When I say the graphics are retro, I mean it. The mazes look like they're made up of blocks. Many games of yesterday disguised this as much as they could, though some deliberately showed their construction off. The graphics here look strikingly different compared to most games produced today, indie or otherwise. Despite this they animate smoothly and have no obvious glitches. Curiously the screen fades and the equip screens in particular seem far more polished than the main game which makes it all look rather dichotomous.

Sound is also rather limited, but not in a bad way. There is no background music, which can add a touch of atmosphere to a game, though again Nocturnal are focusing on gameplay, not a soundtrack. Sound effects do exist and work well, and there are a lot of them, though the lack of background noise leaves them a little isolated.

And now, onto the gameplay. Either I am a terrible player or the game is just too hard! There are pickups aplenty and a plethora of guns on sale in the shop, and while I can't say whether their cost equates to their effectiveness (as most are beyond my price range), the ones I've tried are all nearly useless against the AI robots that chase me about. My player dies with alarming regularity. The myriad of keys (double it for both players) only makes things more complicated, though you have the option to print out the list!

I feel I should point out that I'm playing a "small" maze (I have not yet reached the other side) and a minimum of enemy units. Perhaps with two players we could work together to kill these computer controlled foes but that really isn't the point of the game. As it is, even finding the other player is hard enough. And if the other player doesn't leave their base, you (and the robots) can't get in to kill him.

This is a game with an excellent philosophy - the gameplay is more important than the look and sound of a game. If the difficulty was a little more relaxed, this would be an addictive game that stands out amongst its rivals. Destruction II is a great game in theory, but dying a lot because you can't afford decent weapons and can't reach the enemy doesn't somehow appeal.

Graphics 65%
Sound 55%
Playability 50%
Longevity 65%
Overall Score 58%
Bronze Star

Published on 08 Aug 2003
Reviewed by Andrew Williams

Keywords: destruction ii review, nocturnal development reviews, nocturnal development games, destruction ii scores, pc game reviews, indie game reviews, independent gaming.