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Game #3716
Hall of Belated Fame Inductee  Carmageddon    View all Top Dogs in this genre
Action   Driving

Rating: 8.92 (1053 votes)

Carmageddon box cover

Carmageddon screenshot
One of the best over-the-top action games ever made, Carmageddon is a revolutionary driving game that sets new standards in violent games, and is one of the truly timeless driving masterpieces. Steve Bauman of Computer Games magazine says it all in his review:

"The debate over whether passively experiencing or actively participating in a violent act on your PC has any influence whatsoever on gamers will likely be renewed with the release of Carmageddon, a hyper-violent driving game. It combines driving and manslaughter in such a way that could be disturbing if it wasn't so completely exaggerated and cartoon-y.

But we're talking about games, not psychology. The structure of Carmageddon is like most arcade race games - run a race, get money and upgrade your car. Each race features six cars. There is a timer that counts down; when it hits zero, the race is over. Unlike most race games, the way you increase the timer is not by reaching different stages, but instead by damaging other cars, or more often than not, running over pedestrians. If the thought of killing people makes you squeamish, pretend the guys in suits are your ex-boss, the men or women in bathing suits are Calvin Klein models, the punker dudes are whiny Gen-X'ers, and perhaps most gratifying of all, the guys in white suits are those dancing idiots in the Intel MMX commercials. Play that funky music, disemboweled boy.

There are three different ways to win a race: you can win it outright, by completing an X number of laps; or by destroying all of your opponents; or killing every pedestrian in the environment (the latter is unlikely, considering there can be more than 500 in a race). For particularly inspiring deaths, you may be awarded bonuses for "extra style" or "artistic impression". The tracks have a lot of jumps and hills, and the inevitable flips and spins can result in a "cunning style bonus". Power-ups range from the typical (full repairs, extra time) to the bizarre (a "jelly" suspension or the "pedestrian extro-bastard ray").

Violence aside, racing games are all about physics, and Carmageddon has a perfect driving feel. With a racing game, whether it feels realistic or not is more important than whether it's actually realistic, and the models for all of the vehicles in the game are perfect. Each car has a completely different feel, with the small cars having tight turning radii and good handling, while the big, heavy cars turn slowly and tend to oversteer at the merest hint of a turn.

As good as the car models are, it's the game world that really shines. The environment for each race is enormous and free-form. You can drive anywhere, with few limits (if you want to finish a race, you might want to stay on the marked portions of the track); and where most racing games are content with 3-8 tracks, Carmageddon gives you a remarkably generous 36 tracks. Observant drivers will recognize some of the environments as being duplicates, though the actual routes through the areas are different.

If you like Destruction Derby, you ain't seen nothing at all! Visible, dynamic damage and the most amazing high-speed accidents make for a racing experience that is unlike anything ever seen on the PC.

No game is perfect, and Carmageddon has a lot of flaws that can be considered fairly serious depending on the gamer. The game ships with both a DOS and Windows 95 version, and the latter version is a bit on the sluggish side (an understatement - it basically sucks). A high-resolution mode is only available with the DOS version, and can only be accessed via a command-line switch... Finally, purveyors of perfect 3D, the ones who'd rather talk about draw-in and such than play a game, will find a lot to complain about.

Overall, though, the gameplay wins out, even in low-resolution VGA mode (some of us don't necessarily view this as a detriment). Lesser games would have been content with playing up the killing angle and ignoring the gameplay (see the upcoming game Postal), but the makers of Carmageddon have instead fashioned a brilliantly over-the-top racing game, one that would have been well-received even without the violence. A number of flaws that have nothing to do with its violent content keep it from receiving a higher score, but if you enjoy arcade racing games, Carmageddon is one of, if not the, best on the market." A definitely hall of belated fame entrant. You can also download from here Carmageddon Splat Pack, the official add-on pack that adds a lot of new tracks, cars, and 3Dfx support.

Aside from the '98 sequel Carmageddon II: Carpocalypse that was basically Carma 1 but better, and another lackluster one not by the same team, there is now a brand new (as of writing this) release by the old Stainless people that promises to be a lot of fun once certain technical issues have been sorted, and another version of the same that ships for PS4 and Xbox1. See the Carmageddon community hub for more info!

Reviewed by: Underdogs
Designer: Neil Branden & Patrick Buckland
Developer: Stainless Games
Publisher: Interplay
Year: 1997
Software Copyright: Stainless Games
System Requirements: DOS
Where to get it:
Related Links:  
If you like this game, try: Destruction Derby, Insane, Quarantine

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