Mayhem – the Xbox 360’s hidden region-free racer

Evolved Games are a publisher who are no longer around. When you look at their back catalogue it’s no surprise as to why – their biggest release was Terminator Salvation, which is often referred to as being one of this generation’s worst movie tie-in.

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Smash and crash racer Mayhem was the last title the publisher released, arriving so late in the day that not only did it not make it out to Europe, but it’s not even mentioned on their website.

We’re not going to bend the truth here – it’s is a pretty run of the mill racer. A poor man’s DiRT if you will. It is however one the few Xbox 360 titles that’s region-free, and can be found on eBay for around £10-£15. It’s also recommended for those looking for a Gamerscore boost. It takes just over four hours to see everything on offer, with most races being so straightforward that they can be beaten on first attempt.

Incidentally, a PlayStation 3 version also exists and likewise is loaded with easy to acquire trophies.

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It’s the art direction that caught our eye at first. A colour palate formed of predominantly black and white worked well in Mad World and in the movie Sin City, as the only other colour used was red which really helped to highlight the strong use of blood and gore. It also tied in brilliantly with Sin City’s roots. Although Mayhem’s menus are based around comic books, there’s not a drop of blood when playing, so it’s a little odd that they went with this visual style. Chances are that had something to do with the fact that it could be played in 3D, via the free glasses found inside the case.

Even with a 3D mode, it’s easy to get the impression that developers Left Field – who are best known for Excitebike 64, Nitrobike on Wii and a handful of Nintendo-exclusive basketball titles – intended Mayhem to be a pretty big budget release, but when only Evolved Games showed interest in it those plans were scaled down somewhat.

This would explain the game’s shortness and also the fact that it’s one of the most casual racers of recent times. Take the destruction arena matches for example. When ramming the opposition they simply freeze on the spot (or become ‘shocked’, as the game puts it) allowing them to be shoved off the edge of the area with relative ease.

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Track design isn’t too bad at least – one is set inside a multi-story car park where it’s possible to go careering off the roof, and there’s a fair bit of variety between stages including elimination races. One nice touch that we liked was the way your driver waves farewell to the opposition when shoving them over the edge of an arena. In fact, that’s just about the only nice touch.

Mayhem, then, is something of a curio – a little known game that’s not terrible but clearly a victim of a minuscule budget. Hopefully by publishing this article a few more people will be aware of its existence, and should need call for a short and occasionally fun racer, know that Mayhem will fit that bill.

Matt Gander

Matt is Games Asylum's most prolific writer, having produced a non-stop stream of articles since 2001. A retro collector and bargain hunter, his knowledge has been found in the pages of tree-based publication Retro Gamer.

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