Did you ever play SimCity and think it would be more fun to destroy a pre-built town, rather than watch one you spent hours creating get destroyed by earthquakes, floods and twisters? If so, then Elements of Destruction is the game for you.
It puts you in the shoes of Dr Edgar Herbert, a disgruntled ex-employee of AIC who researched and developed a weather control system. Now Dr Herbert is out for revenge and using his weather controller against his former employers. Over the course of the game you will unleash devastating attacks on several countries – starting with Canada – taking out targets such as offices, weather stations and military units that try to stop you.
Level objectives break down to what you need to destroy to achieve the objectives, the time you have to destroy said buildings and conditions such as not being spotted by the enemy radar. Your powers are represented by a small glowing orb which moves around the map relatively quickly, even when under enemy fire. Various attacks require different button mashing or analog stick movement: twisters, for instance, require you to move the right stick in circles to power up the tornado, while lightning attacks need to be charged by pushing the A button repeatedly. Along with the various elements you can use come several types of traps the AIC has set up to counter your attacks, such as tesla coils to counter lighting strikes and big fans to counter your twisters.
At the beginning of each level several charge stations fall to earth; these replenish your power after you get attacked by enemy forces and also work to replenish your energy faster if you get trigger happy with lightning attacks. Spending too much time around the stations isn’t wise however, as the missions are on a time limit. Unfortunately, zipping around the place destroying buildings becomes repetitive and wears thin after a couple of hours.
When it comes to destruction, Elements of Destruction comes off as decidedly tame. What would look impressive in real life looks, in this title, more like you are kicking in a kid’s sandcastle at the beach or a building he constructed out of Lego – except in those cases someone might actually care. To elaborate, take the destruction of office buildings in the second level. Assuming there were people in any of the buildings on hand, the fatality rate would be one hundred percent as no one ever runs screaming or even staggering out of a burning or fallen building, and nor do the fire department ever come to deal with the fires.
Unfortunately, for a game that you might expect to have highly detailed environments to destroy, the visuals fall short of most, if not all of the other original Live Arcade games and would have looked more at home on Wiiware. It’s not all bad news however, as the disaster effects look great in comparison to the rest of the game; earthquakes create a circle of cracks that grow bigger the more power you put into them, and twisters swirl around tearing up trees and can be used to throw objects such as cars and bombs. More importantly, the map works well, marking out your primary targets and charging stations clearly so players can dive in and know where they have to go and what to destroy.
At the end of each level you earn points based on the level of destruction you wrought upon the people - the higher your points, the better your destruction medal and in turn the more research points you earn for your next upgrade. This system results in a rush to get all the objectives finished as soon as possible so you have more time to inflict collateral damage for a higher destruction score.
When the dust settles and the fires are put out, Elements of Destruction is refreshing and original. Unfortunately, the lack of victims running from the buildings makes it feel empty, and the repetitious gameplay loses its novelty value after a few hours.