Fortunately, the less-than-stellar car controls are made up for by the sheer insanity of the game's action. The basic derbies are great and feature more than their share of pure car-wrecking glee, and some of the gimmick races (such as the hysterically destructive figure-8 jump race) are simply a hoot. And then there are some of the wholly silly modes, such as the soccer mode, where you and a team of cars take on another team of cars in an arena with two nets and a giant soccer ball to push around, and the battle mode, where you have to shoot the opposing cars with exploding chickens. OK, yes, that last one is dumb, but the soccer mode is cool.
The career mode is more lengthy than deep, and it gets old after a few hours.
Now, while these race types are all well and good, sadly, they don't hold up well over time as a solely single-player experience, and there's no online functionality in Eve of Destruction. It's fun to wreck cars by yourself of course, but doing it with friends is just so much more enjoyable. Plus, it won't take you more than 10 hours or so to blast through the game's few unlockables, and once you have them all, there isn't much reason to keep coming back. So, essentially, the game's replayability hinges on your ability to get friends to come over and partake in some split-screen multiplayer. Without them, the game can get old pretty quickly.
Visually, Eve of Destruction gets the job done, but not without a couple of caveats. The car models, though not markedly detailed, are nicely done and break well when wrecked into. A little more in the way of visible deformation would have been nice, but as it stands, the wrecks in the game are good. The race arenas are exactly what you would expect from a game of this type, with a lot of dirt tracks and plenty of haystacks and stacks of tires to avoid scattered throughout each track. The one technical issue with the arenas is some slowdown, which happens when clouds of dirt are kicked up off the tracks and when a lot of cars are wrecking at the same time. It's actually quite noticeable and becomes annoying. Not that it's a big shock, but the Xbox version does feature a cleaner, sharper look than the PS2 version, though both versions suffer from the annoying slowdown.
If nothing else, the sheer number of crazy race types in the game has to be applauded.
Eve of Destruction's soundtrack consists of only seven songs total. It doesn't take long for the song list to get repetitive. At least the game does feature some decent modern bands, such as Hoobastank, Thursday, and Thrice, but again, there just isn't enough variety to keep it interesting (and come on, this is a demolition derby game; couldn't we get just a little bit of cheesy '80s rock?). On the plus side, if you get the Xbox version, you can insert your own custom soundtracks. There isn't much to say about the remaining components of Eve of Destruction's sound, since there isn't much to it. The engine sounds and wreck effects are OK, but they're not particularly great, and the annoying derby announcer who occasionally has something glib and unfunny to say is far more grating than anything else.
Test Drive: Eve of Destruction is a game that is easy to want to like. It's obvious that the developers have a legitimate affection for demolition derbies, and they really tried to make a game that captured the type of white-trash atmosphere typical of derbies. While they do manage to pull this off, the game's rather limited scope means that you won't necessarily get much out of it for long, especially if you don't have friends nearby to play with. As a rental, Eve of Destruction will provide at least a serviceable distraction for most racing fans, but as a purchase, this one is strictly for the diehard derby-goers, assuming there are still a few of us out there.