Car combat games aren't new anymore. That being the case, new additions to the genre are pressed to come up with a strong gameplay model or have something to offer that other similar, older games haven't already done. Totaled! is a game that doesn't do any of this, and it even goes so far as to take the formula of wrecking cars and remove most of the fun from it. While weapons have become somewhat of a requirement in games of this type, there are none to be found here. What this leaves you to do is mindlessly smash into opponents, and while doing so may be fun in other similarly themed games, the frustratingly bad physics in Totaled! make the game a thoroughly unentertaining experience.
Wait, isn't this game called "Totaled!" ?
Totaled! is essentially a destruction derby. The game revolves around the career mode, in which you travel the world and enter a variety of contests that have a number of different goals. The most basic contest puts you in an arena to destroy as many opponents as you can in a set amount of time. Damaging other vehicles by smashing into them gets you points, and in some contests, amassing points is more important than survival. Other contests have you racing around a track while trying to stay ahead of the pack, or pulling off stunts for points. The variety of different contests are nice, but unfortunately the subpar control detracts from any fun these modes might have had going for them.
Pileups like this one cause camera issues that can leave you stuck.
And that's exactly where Totaled! self-destructs--in how it controls. As you progress through the game, you'll unlock a number of different vehicles and tracks--all pretty standard stuff. Each car has a number of attributes that differentiate it from the others, but not one car handles very well. Each and every vehicle moves in such a way that can only be described as frustrating. Acceleration is so slow that even cars with high points in this category feel sluggish, and vehicles with poor acceleration are downright awful to drive. For the most part, you'll be trying to get up to speed and smash into other cars as you attempt to destroy them, so the inability to accelerate quickly becomes a problem right away. Once you have some speed going, you can pull off powerslides and other maneuvers to keep your car moving along, but one good hit on an opponent or other object and your speed will be drastically reduced, starting the bitter cycle all over again. Oftentimes, after hitting another car and coming to a standstill, opponents will pile up on you, and you won't be able to break free until an opening presents itself--this can take upward of 30 seconds, as the painfully unintelligent enemy AI tries to figure out how to move in any direction but forward. In these cases, the camera can get confused and more often than not will literally get caught inside a nearby car or spin wildly until it comes to rest behind you.
Even when you're moving along at a clipped rate, the cars seem as though they have all of their weight in the front end, so powerslides will cause the rear end of the vehicle to slip abnormally, extending the slides and making them difficult to control. Often, your front wheels will catch on the edge of a track or some other surface and send your car tumbling end over end, and this is where the odd distribution of weight becomes extremely apparent. When accidents like this occur, your car will frequently act like some strange gyroscope, spinning wildly on its front grill or hood. Even when this doesn't happen, the cartwheeling wrecks look and behave oddly to say the least.
In addition to the standard deathmatch-type destruction derby, there are battles for points, in which all entrants attempt to outdo each other by smashing into other cars and gaining more points than opponents. There are also races and stunt contests, in which you'll attempt to either come in first place or gain points by jumping through hoops or pulling off spectacular crashes (and landing on all four wheels). The stunt mode is pretty basic--you'll mostly spend your time driving erratically while trying to roll the car. This is the easiest way to rack up points quickly. Similarly to rolling your car in the stunt mode, there are easy-to-find exploits that will let you win other contests quickly. In the destruction derbies, the last car still driving is the winner. The easiest way to end up in this position is to drive around the arena and avoid all of the other cars until they destroy themselves, and then smash the last one standing. It's cheap, and it works every time. Other match types include single races where you have to clear a track with crates strewn about the tarmac, all while avoiding such abstract things as glowing red bowling pins that will destroy your car on contact. Still other matches act more like minigames and have you rolling barrels into target zones. There are also bus-jump contests, which consist merely of driving in a straight line and punching the nitro as you go up the ramp. None of this variety amounts to much when the game itself is so aggravating to play.
Bus jumping isn't as fun as you might think.