Everyone knows the story of the mad scientist. One day he’s working happily for a giant corporation and then something happens and he snaps. Then it’s off to the cave/lair/secret lab to wreak havoc on the entire world. Sure, the mad scientist plot device may be old and tired, but somehow it still has some lasting appeal. I mean, who doesn’t love watching crazy, smart people blow things up? Elements of Destruction taps this vintage theme and weaves in some weather-related elements to create an action packed title that’s all about sticking it to the proverbial man by leveling cities, towns, and of course, research facilities owned by the company that started it all.
The way the game works is by putting the player in charge of a little energy ball. This energy ball works as a cursor, and you can move it all around the map and spawn forth different, destructive weather elements. These destructive weather elements will cause a set amount of damage to the different structures you will encounter, and the damage will be represented by a little pie chart that pops up on the structure once you select it with your cursor. To begin with, you will have marginally powerful tornadoes, earthquakes, and lightning bolts. As you go through the different levels, you will be able to unlock more powerful versions of these standard elements. Each weather element has different characteristics, and you’ll have to employ a little bit of weather strategy if you are going to succeed in your evil plot.
For instance, tornadoes have an almost unlimited range, and you can move them around quite quickly and destroy many structures in a row. However, they consume energy rapidly and if you’re not careful, you can run out of energy, which will lead to an automatic failure. On the other hand, lightning has a very fixed range but takes a lot less energy and can be summoned more quickly. Then of course you have earthquakes, which have a wide, destructive range but take a lot of time to summon and use a medium amount of energy. It is very important to learn how to incorporate all three of these elements into your strategy because success in many levels is simply not possible without using all three elements.
Levels in the standard campaign mode are structured around certain goals that must be accomplished in a certain amount of time. It’s not enough to just level everything in your sight, you have to destroy certain buildings and structures as well as cause a certain dollar amount of damage before you can move on. One of the best (and most entertaining) ways you can rack up the cash in this title is to chain together special combo attacks using different weather elements. So for instance, if you demolish 70% of a city block with your tornado and then take out the remaining 30% of the structures with a big earthquake, you’ll be able to net some extra dough.
After you adequately destroy enough environments, there will be a boss battle against one of the machines your evil scientist created during his time working for his former employer. It’s a huge insult that your former creations have been turned against you, but luckily you’ll have the inside information on these machines and automatically know where their weaknesses are. The boss battles are very fun and quite challenging. They also add quite a bit of variety to the gameplay and provide a much needed interruption from leveling towns and cities.
One gripe many may have is how short the campaign mode is. Total play time for average gamers will probably be about two hours. However, aside from the standard campaign mode, there are two other ways to play: Free-play and Survival mode. Free-play is probably the most fun and allows you to play through an unlocked map and destroy everything you can without being tethered to rules. Survival mode is also available, but has to be unlocked.
In addition to playing through all of these modes solo, you can also play with a friend via either local, split-screen co-op or online. If you crave competition rather than cooperation, there is also a competitive mode where you can see who can destroy the most in a limited amount of time. These modes really add some replay value to this title and make it more of a “party” style game you can play on the spot with friends.
Graphically, this title looks pretty good. Environments look diverse and vary wildly from a warm and sunny Canadian farm to a cold and snowy European villa. The color palate also ranges widely depending on the setting and helps make each mode distinctively destructive. It’s worth noting that Elements of Destruction is presented in 720p HD, although you can’t really tell, as none of the levels are incredibly sharp.
Sound here is also pretty good. The level music feels a little generic, but the mad scientist voiceovers as well as the destructive sound effects are quite good. The mad scientist’s voiceover definitely provides for some hilarious moments including a diabolically evil version of “Oh, Canada.” However, my only complaint is for some reason the voiceover seems to taper off in the later levels. I don’t really know why this might be, but I have to say I missed the voiceover when it started becoming sparse. The sound effects in this title are quite good and feature some pretty fun explosion and weather noises. Not only can you see the destruction in this title you can hear it as well!
Overall, I really loved playing Elements of Destruction. Destroying things using the weather is a delightful concept and makes for some seriously destructive fun. That, coupled with the fact that this title gives you so many different ways to play, both by yourself, with a friend, or online, makes this a standout title on the LIVE Arcade and a must for anyone who has a flair for explosions, demolition, and destruction!
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 4.0 Graphics
Graphics look pretty good despite being rather basic, and environments are very distinctive. 4.1 Control
Cursor controls are very easy to use but feel a little inefficient on larger maps. 3.0 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Level music is fairly generic, but the mad scientist’s voiceover is pretty funny. However, after the first few levels the voiceover tapers off for some reason. 4.1 Play Value
The single-player campaign is not all that lengthy, but Free-play, Survival, co-op, and online modes give this tile significant replay value. 4.0 Overall Rating – Great
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.