Post Apocalyptic Mayhem

March 31, 2011

At first glance, Post Apocalyptic Mayhem looks like one takes a racing game like Ridge Racer and fills it with a healthy dose of Twisted Metal. You know, brutal racing where you’ll spend as much time burning enemy rubber as you will your own. But before you even wade out of the shallow end, you’ll find yourself at the end of the pool wondering why you chose to swim in the first place. 

The basic premise behind PAM is to place as high as you can by accumulating points. Two things gain you points: destroying your five enemies and completing laps around the large tracks in the game. You destroy enemies by using your vehicle’s three unique power-ups that can be acquired by grabbing the matching barrel, much in the vein of any Mario Kart game.

That’s where the gameplay and depth flatlines. While large and detailed, PAM contains only three tracks. Three. A far cry from the “numerous compelling and completely unique” tracks the developers claim the game has. They do look nice and are filled with variety in design, but even that doesn’t redeem the fact that you have one less track than a single Mario Kart circuit. And the “unique and powerful” abilities each vehicle has? While different in visual style, many tend to emulate one another, and all follow a major pattern in terms of usefulness: the rear weapons are the ones you would want to spam, the others are more debatable in usefulness.

The biggest offense comes in the game’s “various intense race modes”. Either Arcade Mode, where you race one track, or Apocalyptic Challenge, racing all three tracks back-to-back, are all you get for single-player. Multiplayer expands this a bit with different race criteria to choose from: reach a kill quota, be the first to make a lap, or get as many kills as possible during a normal race. Shallow and simple, this is further confounding when you discover that the goal is not racing, but kill acquisition that determines whether you win. What separates this game from the many Twisted Metal games is that you’re forced into the facade of racing while still focusing on killing your opponents. Combat or not, no racing game should force the player to hover around their enemies for the sake of more points and a higher place.

The visuals of the game do look good, and the music is much what you’d expect from a game in this style: gritty and guitar-laden. It does handle well and carries with it potential. But where all the content in the game can be conquered in an hour, with multiplayer extending this lifespan by a few more potential hours, it begs the question: why bother?

From looking at the achievements, you can assume that more tracks and vehicles are on the way in DLC form. But where the racing portion of PAM seems tacked on to the vehicle combat, it remains flawed and shallow in a position where a Twisted Metal game and a racing game like Ridge Racer could both give what PAM attempts to give a lot better.

Pros: Looks and sounds good, carries a flawed but interesting premise

Cons: Shallow and short gameplay, lacks substantial content, racing seems superfluous


Score: 2/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.