• No bonus pay cheque, no redundancy money – oh what’s a mad scientist to do when his employer turfs him out on his ear?

    Go mad with a prototype weather machine? Lay waste to Canada? Well why the heck not.

    Frozen Codebase / THQ have served up a destructive slice of Xbox Live Arcade action with this as a basic premise, and taking on the persona of lunatic science nerd for the day you can wreak terrible revenge by decimating the countryside, the cities and huge chunks of normally quiet leafy suburbia.

    Elements of Destruction plays out like a sort of Anti-Sim-City spliced with Rampage (but missing the giant mutant monsters). Your weather machine is a little bit more sophisticated than a piece of kit that just makes it drizzle a bit. You can conduct your own symphony of mayhem by calling upon the power of earthquakes, twisting tornadoes, massive lightning bolts and various other unlockable forces of nature in order to lay waste to the landscape.

    Elements of Destruction

    After a short tutorial that shows you how to control the various elements, it’s time to get into the swing of things proper. Each divisional territory consists of several humorously named sub-sections (Hysteria Lane anyone?). With each level, there are objectives to complete along the lines of destroying a set number of barns for instance, or thwarting the authorities’ attempts to stop you by smashing their nasty little traps and missile silos to pieces.

    For a game based purely around destruction, the sparsely decorated levels early on were a little frustrating but once you move out of the countryside and stop bothering farmers and their ilk, you can really start to let loose with those destructive forces. The earthquake is particularly neat. Set the thing going, and then furiously pump the A button to maintain the aftershocks, before hitting the X button to really ramp things up. Buildings crumble, the landscape cracks apart and you’ll rack up some pretty hefty scores.

    Tornadoes work slightly differently. This time you have to rotate the left stick around to try and focus the tornado and keep it on its path, chewing through buildings and scattering stuff with a quick stab of the X button again.

    Then there’s the lightning. It may sound like a rather weird comparison but someone had obviously been playing Gears of War the day this particular part of the game was designed. The lightning works a lot like GOW’s reload bar. Timing your lightning strikes for maximum effect involves hitting the A button just as the bar reaches a filled-in section on the power-up gauge. Hit it correctly at the sweet spot and it will focus your energy and prove to be even more destructive than just randomly stabbing away with forks of lightning. The greater the focus of your power, the more effect it will have and the quicker you can blast buildings, planes or those pesky government forces apart.

    Naturally all this destruction doesn’t escape the authorities’ attention so they will set out to try and stop you, setting up Tesla towers to try and disrupt your weather machine’s effectiveness. When you’re close to one of these your machine pretty much just splutters and dies, and you’ll have to move away from its influence to try and find something else to destroy.

    They will also send planes, tanks and various other pieces of military hardware against you, and will set up vortex tunnels that can capture you and hold you. A quick waggle of the left stick and you can free yourself though.

    Though the game is reasonably basic on the visuals side of things, it’s actually still quite compelling for a short while just seeing how much havoc you can create before it all gets a bit too samey and boredom creeps in.

    Elements of Destruction is also geared up for multiplayer fun, so you can either challenge a friend on LIVE to see who can destroy the most in the shortest time possible, or you can even engage in a bit of mad-scientist co-operative gameplay, teaming up to really show the world who’s boss.

    In some ways, this would’ve been the perfect title for 400 points, but at 800 points it gets a bit too mundane too quickly, and once you’ve begun to unlock the other destructive elements, or more powerful versions of the basic tornados and lightning bolts, it all feels a little unchallenging and the cracks really start to show in the title.

    At least it’s a step in the right direction though, bringing a little originality to the Xbox Live Arcade. It’s a little too short on long term appeal, and overpriced too but playing a lunatic science geek hell bent on bringing the world to its knees is always fun so some arcade fans may find a fair bit of enjoyment here.

    Score: 5/10

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