In this day and age, it isn’t uncommon for a game you have never heard of to land on your desk. I will be honest, when I saw Mayhem 3D on my doorstep, I wrote it off as yet another piece of shovelware crap that was sent to die at retail. I mean, any game that comes with packed-in red and blue 3D glasses is usually just a travesty waiting to happen. Thankfully, once you get past the generic packaging and no-name status, you will discover a smorgasbord of twisting metal in one of the finest destruction derby-style games to come along in quite some time.
On the surface, Mayhem is your typical racing game with destructive properties. In fact, outside of the visual aesthetic (which I will discuss later), it really doesn’t do anything particularly innovative. However, what it does do, it does well. Usually, when you pick up a budget-priced game, there is something inherently wrong with it. Controls are terrible, checkpoints or save system busted, and the like. Mayhem avoids all of this by just sticking to the essentials and making sure all of them work the way they are supposed to.
There are basically four types of modes within the game: standard racing, destruction derby, domination and part collecting. Racing is much of what you would expect with a minor twist thrown into the mix; the tracks usually reverse into themselves causing massive pile-ups and plenty of position changes. Destruction derby is exactly what it sounds like. I really enjoyed throwing the car into reverse and ramming people like in the glory days of Destruction Derby 2 for the PSOne. Domination is basically King of the Hill and Collect the Parts is destruction derby with a collection aspect. Each mode provides enough variety to keep things fresh, but the racing and derby modes are definitely the highlights.
The campaign mode is broken down into episodes based on fake comic books, complete with cover art and cheesy titles. Within each episode is a series of events in which you can earn stars for completing. The stars are combined with “mayhem points” you earn during races to unlock new content such as venues, episodes and of course, new cars. There are a ton of things to unlock, and achieving 100% will take a substantial amount of time. Outside of that, there are single event and online modes. The online has an impressive number of leaderboard entries, but again like most no-name games, finding a full match is a challenge unless you organize a game night.
As far as controls go, Mayhem follows the same foundation the rest of the game lives by. Everything is standard, but it works great. Gas and brakes are assigned to the triggers, a power brake and, of course, the boost meter. Gaining boost is as simple as smashing cars and collecting the parts that fall off. Stock up a full boost meter and you can unleash ramming speed, which is a flurry of white death followed by some hardcore car porn. This game definitely has a dirty visceral feel, and it focuses on smashing and crashing.
If I have to pick apart the game, the one area that drives me insane is the menu structure. This game has lots of events and unlockables, and at times I found myself lost in the sea of menus. For instance, the career mode is not laid out well. It is so poor, in fact, that I actually skipped the tutorial entirely by accident. Things certainly need to be more prominent in that aspect. My other gripe comes in the form of AI. On normal, the game is a breeze in most events outside of domination. Bump it up and things become reckless to the point of frustration. A more balanced system would have been appreciated.
With that said, the area that will shock most players are the visuals. Mayhem comes with 3D glasses and you know what that means: headaches. After toying around with the depth slider and the included glasses, I have come to the conclusion that red/blue 3D is totally not worth the minimal effect it produces. However, the game itself has a unique look outside of the third dimension. Imagine MadWorld, but with cars, and you get the idea. The black, white and red tones give the game a look that no other racing game has. It really is a cool effect and fits the dirty style nicely.
Mayhem 3D is one of the best surprises I have played this year. I opened it expecting a complete pile of steaming crap and came away nostalgic for the glory days of Destruction Derby. If you loved those classic PSOne smash ’em up games, you owe it to yourself to check this game out. The game is chock full of content and, most importantly, good old fashioned car porn.
Review copy provided by publisher.