The self described driving game ‘for the chemically imbalanced’.


Did a Stegosaurus mate with a Volkswagen?

For the uninitiated, playing Carmageddon is like being a Death Race 2000 character. Eight cars race through a locale full of unsuspecting pedestrians. When the race begins, you’re confronted with a timer that constantly ticks toward zero; if it gets there, you lose. That’s not much of a problem, though, because you add time to it by mowing down pedestrians and trashing your opponents’ vehicles. You even get bonuses for thinking of creative ways to do it, like power-sliding through a crowd of innocent bystanders, or performing stunts.

Victory is achieved by obliterating all of your opponents, killing everyone, or – if you absolutely must – completing the race. Overall, however, the game is more about mindless destruction than clean organized racing – other than feeding the timer, there are no rules. On the technical side Carmageddon features some very cool physics, including a deformation system. Trash your car long enough and you’ll eventually see pieces fly off and the body get twisted. The same goes for opponent cars. Each vehicle handles and looks differently, and every single one is hilariously designed with that hint of creative sadism in mind.

The levels are huge and open-ended. You can drive anywhere for miles before finally getting stopped by a barrier (a useful automap function lets you know exactly where you are). The tracks have a lot of jumps and hills to show off the car physics, and if you’re skilled enough you can perform stunt jumps that reward you with credits. The levels are designed with fun in mind, so it won’t take long before you find a ramp or two. Power-ups are scattered all around, and they range from the simple (extra credits, extra time) to the truly bizarre (suicidal pedestrians, lunar gravity, the dreaded pinball mode).

So with all of this awesomeness to go around, is there anything wrong with Carmageddon? Yes, there is. For one thing, you’ll probably be stuck driving with your stock car through the entire ‘campaign’ races – all 99 of them – which can become surprisingly boring. Some of the other cars are drivable, but to get them you have to destroy them during a race, and even then you only get a small chance of the car being added to your garage. Only 9 out of Carma’s 30 cars can be grabbed this way.

11_1Carma uses the ‘stealworthy’ system of awarding the player with new cars, and it’s not very reliable. Picture playing through Carma’s 99 levels and wasting every opponent driver on each map. All of that mass carnage amounts to 495 kills, out of which I barely got 7 vehicles, the majority of them no better than my stock car. To get every car in the race you have to complete the entire game, but by that time you probably won’t care enough anyway.

The driving AI has its ups and downs. For one thing fellow racers are really easy to piss off. Gently budge into their car and you’ll be hounded for the rest of the race. Towards the end they completely hate you, ganging up on your car each time. But Carmageddon is a fun, dark game of roadside destruction all the same. You’ll love every bit of it despite its limitations.

System Requirements: Windows 98, 64 MB RAM, 2MB Video, 120 MB HDD, MS-DOS

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