Majesco and Rage Software have teamed up to bring a new vehicular combat title, Totaled! to the Xbox console. Totaled features a variety of classic automobiles and several different modes of play to keep you entertained. With its above-average graphics and a decent variety of modes, Totaled seems to offer the complete package. Simplistic play mechanics make for an easy to understand game, the question is whether there's enough replay value to justify a purchase. Totaled!'s low price makes it tempting but is this a bargain or do you get what you pay for? Find out inside.
Retailing for a substantially lower price than most other new Xbox releases, Majesco's Totaled! seems to be inspired by the classic Pysgnosis Playstation series Destruction Derby. This isn't a cheap knock-off since the game offers enough innovative gameplay modes to give it a unique feel. The game offers a decent selection of ten vehicles to choose from, some more responsive and other more durable depending on which model you select. There are three main types of vehicles: Performance, Muscle Cars and Hot Rods, each with their own individual plusses and minuses. Some modes only allow you to use a single vehicle, which adds to the challenge, but for the most part, the game offers a full selection, with more cars to unlock later on. Having selected your vehicle, the game begins. One interesting twist is that different types of cars take different types of damage and each car is also equipped with a nitro boost, which gives you a quick burst of speed, though these are limited stock so use them wisely.
Totaled has several different standard modes which can also be played with different rules and variations. These include Free For All, which is a basic destruction derby, where the car that wins the most points wins. It's similar but Last Man Standing mode is an all out vehicular brawl where the object is to destroy as many other cars as possible, without getting smashed to bits yourself. Here, the player with the most points wins. There's also a unique Hunter mode, where the one car is designated as the target. Players only earn points by hitting the target vehicle, but can also gain points when they're it by avoiding crashes. There is also an Eliminator racing mode where cars are eliminated after each lap, depending on their position, the winner is the driver with the most points. Totaled also features time and objective variations on these modes as well as a stunt mode, where you earn points by performing jumps and spins. Though in this mode, you don't earn as much for slamming into other vehicles. Totaled! also features a cool Stunt mode where you have to jump over a certain number of objects in order to succeed. There are also mini-games where you have to destroy objects before the timer runs out and a cool one-on-one mode. These modes can be played single-player or with friends to increase the competitive intensity.
There are loads of small games included but completing each of these modes successfully unlocks additional modes and levels in the game, which makes playing quite addictive since these unlock non-linearly, allowing you to unlock a stunt mode after winning a Free-for-All, which keeps monotony at bay. In all, there are 16 grueling modes of play, plus variants, which gives the game a high replay value. Most of the modes in the game are pure fun, with the stunt racing truly exciting and fun. However, some aspects of the game, such as bus and object jumping are a bit dull due to presentation. For example, in the bus jumping mode, Totaled! starts you off with 6 or seven objects to jumps and then adds a single object with each run, making you do the same thing several times. It would have been better to just start off with the ten required which would have made it more challenging and exciting. It doesn't help that the entire scenario has to reload if you lose, making the restarts here particularly punitive and painful.
Controls are fairly standard racing game configuration, you use either the standard or analog control pad to steer and the shift buttons to accelerate or brake. Implementing the Nitro requires only the press of the button. This fits the game well because Totaled!'s simple, yet straightforward arcade -style gameplay doesn't require elaborate options and anything to esoteric would have detracted from the overall experience. One thing to note is that while the controls are decent in the enclosed arenas, once you get onto the main road, they suffer from some over-responsiveness, which is slightly annoying. However, most gamers won't mind.
The graphics are slightly disappointing since Totaled! doesn't offer the detail seen in other Xbox racers such as Wreckless and Project Gotham Racing. The engine is decent enough but the models and environments look a little plain and flat in comparison. The game also suffers from longer-than-normal load times, which is doubly surprising and annoying. You have to reload after every event and can't restart immediately, which hurts the flow of the gameplay. Surely, this could have been fixed with some more effort. The good news is that the vehicles show damage and wreckage, with their doors and hoods flying off, making the gameplay intense and exciting. Players can also select from several different viewpoints, which is another welcome feature. Totaled! also allows the player to view replays of the previous races, and there's also a save feature to relive those incredible runs. Multiplayer mode is the usual split-screen, and while this is fun, it suffers a bit from the lack of space. Gamers should find that while Totaled! isn't as technically proficient as other titles, the visuals get the job done effectively. The soundtrack is the usual pop-punk/alternative and while it's a bit clichéd at this point, it fits the aggressive nature of the gameplay perfectly.
Players looking for an in-depth driving simulator are advised to look elsewhere because Totaled! is all about the joy of smashing and crimpling other cars. No, it's not the most original game ever made, owing a lot of its approach and style to DD, but Rage deserves credit for adding some cool stunt driving and challenging mini-games to the formula. These mini-games and the variety of rules changes keeps the game fresh. Stunt driving fits in well-with the destroy mode and goes a long way towards giving Totaled! it's own personality. While it's not the deepest or most engrossing title ever made, the title offers some truly enjoyable thumb-candy for those who like driving with an attitude. So is it worth purchasing at it's discount price? The answer is an emphatic "Yes", since despite some technical issues, there's plenty of challenge, mindless fun and a surprisingly high amount of replay value.
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