Thursday, 24 May 2012

PC Capers: Carmageddon (SCi - 1997)

6 combatants. Motors revving. The race official raises the flag, the cars motors sounding like lions roaring. The flag lowers, and the cars speed off, running over the race official. Turning the first corner, one of the racers plows into a gang of people, another hits a traffic light and sends it into the direction of another group, whilst the car gets crumpled like a piece of paper. Another gets blown up, while one goes off a cliff. Two left, ramming each other, while a mine comes into view. The red car, an Eagle Mk.I, rams the 4X4 into the mine, sending it whirling into the air, leaving the Eagle Mk.I the only survivor. This is Carmageddon.

Created by Stainless Software, and published by SCi, Carmageddon was supposed to be an official game, first of Mad Max, first released in 1979, then of the cult movie 'Death Race 2000', which was released in 1975, and starred David Carradine and Sylvester Stallone. In the movie, the racers got points for running over people, whilst racing from one side of America to the other, in a race called the 'Transcontinental Road Race'. After the deal fell through, it was decided to keep the basic premise, but have tracks, laps and weapons thrown into the mix. The tracks themselves range from mine shafts, to cities, to seaside areas. One other element added was the Police presence on various tracks: run over locals in front of a Police van, and it would come after you, until it stopped you. It's armour was tough, and could only be defeated by using the power-up Solid Granite Car. Because of it's subject matter, the game was at first banned by the ratings board but, after a while, it eventually passed with an 18 certificate, whereas in Australia and Germany, it got banned outright (until it was re-edited with zombies, and a password lock).

To kick things off, the game is gory, hence all the controversy around it. I mean, driving around, running people over isn't exactly FIFA Soccer, but even through it's intestine-stained exterior, it's a fun game. The graphics in it's super-duper, Xtra-3D suped-up version are still great. In software mode, it looks good, but it does hurt the eyes after a while. Each car model has hit points, and smashing into a wall in the various places causes that piece to crumple, so in that respect, it's realistic, same as the handling. Meanwhile, the pedestrians are all 2D sprite affairs, but are animated well, and even have accompanying screams when you run them over. Plus, you can also run over cows. Yes, that's right: Cows. You know: they who give us steaks, mince and McDonalds. In the top left hand corner,you've got the Prat-Cam. It shows your driver's ugly mug, as you race through the pedestrians, and they give different expressions whenever they do anything (they even bite their tongue when you use the Instant Handbrake!), but it all adds to the humour of it all.

The game still plays well, even after all this time. You can race, and go through the checkpoints. can smash into other racers and take them out, or run over all the peds, or a mixture of all three. You don't even have to stick to the track, and can even go and explore the whole area, finding more peds and power ups. The areas themselves are massive, and the track layouts vary with each track, and also as you go up the ranks. An expansion pack, called Max Splat Pack, was released a while later, which added new areas & tracks and new racers. A sequel was released a few years later, and expanded on the game, and while a good game, it was let down by the missions you had to do in ridiculous time limits. TDR 2000: Carmageddon 3 was just piss poor. It looked like a dog, it played like rubbish, and is contender for Crap Game Corner.

Still as great to play, and as irrelevant as ever, Carmageddon is one of the best racers you'll ever play. Go do some Cunning Stunt Bonuses, some Piledriver Bonuses, and some Nice Shots, Sir.

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