Deep down (deep deep down), I think we all secretly feel that meteorologists are messing with us. Those meteorologists out there reading this - they know it's true. In Elements of Destruction you play Marty, the crazed meteorologist. His boss, Miss Burns, has just fired him for too accurately predicting bad weather. Drew McCoy, who sees nothing but sunny days ahead, is his saccharine replacement. Marty does what any self-respecting meteorologist with a hobby in mad science would do in that situation: he uses his evil machine to control the weather and wreak havoc on an unsuspecting world.
Ultimately I will exercise my demons (exercise makes em' stronger, ya' know) with five different types of destruction: tornadoes, lightning storms, meteor storms, earthquakes and ice storms. Initially I'll be getting my evil on with just tornadoes and lightning. I know, I know - bring on the meteors, but you can cause lots of fires with tornadoes and lightning if you hit the right buildings.
Marty is quite a busy little guy. He has a different scenario of destruction planned for each day of the week. You'll see what your goals are as far as amount of property damage or percentage of buildings destroyed, what your time limit is, how fast you'd have to finish the scenario to win a medal and which storms you have at your disposal. I'm not sure who gives out medals to people based on how fast they destroy everything in sight. Maybe mad scientists and evil geniuses have yearly awards shows? Who knows?
The game is controlled pretty much entirely through the DS touch screen. You use the stylus to scroll the maps, summon your storm of choice, and draw a quick line on the screen to give the storm its direction. When you set buildings on fire with your storms, you are even able to fan the flames by blowing into the mic. Note that you can also use the arrow pad to scroll the map if you want to.
Each of the five storms has a power up option which is also controlled through the stylus. You'll see little spheres placed on the map that have images on them. Each type of storm has a different matching sphere. You need to drive the correct storm over the correct sphere to get the power up. If you drive the wrong storm over the sphere, the sphere is used and you don't get your power up.
While the touch screen is where you control your storms, the top screen has a lot of useful info. You'll see the map of the town and an indication of the health of the buildings. A green building is in great shape going on down to red for terrible shape and grey is destroyed. Little flashing dots will show you where your power ups are located. When the drones come into the picture, you'll also see their location on the map. You'll see your score, how close you are to meeting your objectives and finally, how much energy you have. Energy is important as you need energy to summon your storms. The more buildings you destroy, the more energy you get.
You'll want to be quick to go to those drones. The little buggers repair buildings that you've damaged with your storms. You have to destroy a drone with lightening to temporarily take it out of the picture.
I didn't appreciate it at the time, but the first day of my rampage was actually the easiest. All I had to do was keep two storms going and destroy as much of the city as possible, and even that took me a few tries. I had to get the hang of running two storms, planning their direction, and keeping an eye on the areas of the map that needed more pounding. Day two introduced the tornado zappers plus drones, and life got ugly, really fast.
Planning ahead is fairly important with the storms. Each storm starts with a given amount of energy. The storm will naturally deplete over time, and changing direction uses energy, too. Try not to let your storm run into the mountains. It is a definite storm killer. Those pesky residents try to interfere with your storms too. They build structures that trap given types of storms. On the second day the city was dotted with tornado trappers. I had to try and destroy those buildings with lightning before I could send in my tornados to continue my destruction.
If you have multiple people sharing a cartridge, you do have three save game slots. There's also a function to let you copy a game. I suppose that would be one way to compete against someone sharing the same DS. You could set each person to the same save and then compete to finish the level in the shortest amount of time. If you have multiple DS' available, you can try the official multiplayer mode. You can host a game for up to three other players, or join someone else's game. The multiplayer mode has two different game options. You can race to see who finishes the level first and you'll see in the top screen how each player is doing.
There is an unusual option in the tug-of-war game. When one player destroys a building, the same building goes to full health for all other players. The winner in that one is decided by which player has destroyed the most buildings when the time runs out.
The graphics were fine for what they needed to do. Happily you only see the storms and buildings and terrain. You don't have to actually see any terrified citizens. I don't think I could play the game at all if I had to see actual (virtual) people being affected by my storms. Yes, I'm probably over-thinking it, but that's me. The music does capture a kind of frantic/destruction feeling.
The whole 'destroying a city for fun' thing aside, I had a couple of other issues with the game. For me at least, it got a lot harder right away. I know that more experience and practice will help, but it is brutally hard at this point. The second major thing is that when I did meet the scenario goals, the level instantly ended and showed my score. I would have liked an option to continue beating on the city if I'd wanted. It's a little frustrating when you almost have a building down and the game is suddenly over - and not because you lost but because you won. In single player mode, there also isn't any 'free play' element. Each scenario has specific goals that you have to meet. There isn't an option to just load a city and jump on it.
Elements of Destruction is a little like when you unleash natural disasters on your creation in Sim City, except that in this case you're only concerned with the destruction. You're not going to have to fix anything later. I have to say it's the first game I've played that stars the evil machinations of a crazed meteorologist. If you've ever seen a little Hamlet and wondered what you could do with a couple of tornadoes and a meteor or three (and without any visits from the FBI), Elements of Destruction is a safe way to take your inner evil genius out for a spin.