13
May
Carmageddon-Icon

I was seven years old when Carmageddon first hit store shelves in 1997. Even if the game hadn't been widely banned and censored around the world, I still wouldn't have gotten my hands on it. The off-the-wall violence and bloodshed would have been a bit too much for my parents to permit me to play with good conscience. While leagues of long-time fans poured money into the Kickstarter campaign that allowed Stainless Games to port the game to Android in the first place, I am visiting the game for the first time. Thank you, Kickstarters, for giving me the chance. To anyone considering giving Carmageddon a try - don't think, just buy. It's $2 well spent.

Carmageddon-Banner

The Gameplay

Carmageddon plays like a Destruction Derby game where jumping the fence and running over the audience is fair game. It's what you get if you take Grand Theft Auto and strip out the guns. It resembles a zombie apocalypse where cars, not zombies, are the reason it sucks to still be alive. To cut a long story short, it's a pretty awesome game.

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The maim of the game is simple: each race can be won by driving through all of the checkpoints for a set number of laps, destroying the opposing racers, or killing all of the pedestrians on the map. If your time runs out, you lose the race. Time can be gained by running over pedestrians and smashing into opponents. Thanks to this dynamic, the clock generally won't run out if you choose to ignore the race entirely and turn it into an all-out brawl. Depending on which car you select and the track you're on, it's no more or less difficult to win by fighting than racing. Yet regardless of what your circumstances are, killing all of the pedestrians is tough. They're everywhere, and they have an annoying habit of moving out of the way when you try to run over them.

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As with any racing game, repetition is a problem. Carmageddon combats this by providing you with whopping 36 tracks and 30 cars. Reaching higher ranks allows you to unlock harder stages, and cars can be unlocked by "stealing" them (destroying them in races where they're marked as steal-worthy). Expect to make a sizable time commitment if you plan to unlock everything the old-fashioned way. If that's not your style, you can purchase all of the cars in-game for 99 cents. All of the maps can be purchased for the same price. Together, the car and map packs reduce the time needed to unlock most of the game's content to just a couple of clicks.

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Carmageddon is controlled via virtual buttons, and they work well enough. What frustrates me is the game's physics. It is so easy to turn too sharply or not turn sharp enough, and while I appreciate there being a certain level of skill required to navigate a track, backing up and driving around the pole I ran into shouldn't take me three tries. I've played a lot of racing games, and while I may have never been particularly stellar, I generally feel confident I could navigate a car through a basic driver's ed course. With Carmageddon's physics, no way. It's almost like they want you to crash. Wait...

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As you abuse your car throughout a race, the damage will be visible. Smoke with start to rise from under your hood, and if you're not too careful, the next collision will turn that smoke into fire. Your car's performance drops as you take damage, but you can issue repairs at any time by sacrificing some of your profit. Even after your car is totaled you can still drop enough prize money to get you back into the race, assuming you have enough.

The Other Stuff

Carmageddon looks like a 90s game. This is a straight port, so don't expect to be blown away. The cars and tracks are three dimensional, but the pedestrians and pick-ups consist of pixelated sprites. When you run over that umpteenth cow, it will burst into blood and crumple into a rotating corpse reminiscent of the original Doom.

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Short videos play after races that change depending on your performance, but they are a fuzzy mess. I'm almost glad I wasn't playing this game on a Nexus 10, for it would be a shame to waste such a gorgeous display on footage so grainy.  But if you're playing this on a smartphone, you may be better able to appreciate the bite-sized humor contained in each video.

The music is largely forgettable, but the sound effects add to the experience. Bystanders will scream, tires will screech, and your driver will cheer with joy as he or she launches across a gap in a broken bridge or plummets into a river.

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There's also an abundance of swearing. If you have sensitive ears or little kids nearby, you might not want to play with the volume up. You're not missing out on too much. I personally preferred to keep the sound low despite the quality of the sounds.

Should You Play It?

Carmageddon is bloody. Make no mistake: it lives up to every bit of its name. You will mow down entire teams of football players and hallways filled with scientists. You may choose to ignore pedestrians every now and then, but there will be times when you cannot afford to go another lap without stopping to plow into a dozen or so people. If you cannot stomach this premise, then you should skip over this game. There's no ignoring what Carmageddon is all about.

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But if you've been playing games long enough to have already shed your moral fiber, you owe it to yourself to experience this piece of gaming history. The tracks and the cars are among the most diverse I have seen in a racing game, with each car handling differently and each track requiring a different racing style than the one before. There's no plot here or extensive cutscenes to distract you from racing. This game soars on the merits of its solid design.

Bertel King, Jr.
Born and raised in the rural South, Bertel knows what it's like to live without 4G LTE - or 3G, for that matter. He now lives in the City of Bridges, adjusting to the presence of actual snow. His phone of choice is the HTC One.

  • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

    "Son of a bitch."
    "Son of a bitch."
    "Son of a bitch."
    "Son of a bitch."
    "I'm coming to get ya!"
    "Son of a bitch."
    "Son of a bitch."
    "Son of a bitch."

    • Paul_Werner

      This is the exact reason why I went into the settings and turned off the sound for just the drivers

  • id242

    Splat Pack!

  • Jeff B

    "The music is largely forgettable" Instrumental versions of some of the best Fear Factory songs is a perfect soundtrack to this game.

    • Brandon Fletcher

      After playing the game for awhile, I was reminded how much I liked FF back in the day. I've been jamming out on Spotify all week!

  • http://twitter.com/xhaxol Vetal

    dumbest game i have ever wasted my time on. i got it free and deleted it after 20 min. "mindless mayhem" Key word is mindless.

    • Michael Panzer

      That's the point here... What did you expect? This game is for mindless fun and waste of time...

    • PhoenixPath

      Poor guy...

    • Brandon Fletcher

      It reels you back in after while, and becomes more addictive when you unlock better cars and car parts. Or, I could just be getting a serious nostalgia rush from it. Either way, good stuff.

    • Steve Williamson

      to young to remember the orginial?

    • Srikant Mishra

      What kind of games u enjoy?. For me, this is the most fun game in android till now

      • sproketz

        Yeah. Hands down the best driving game on android. Not from a graphics standpoint, but from a fun standpoint.

        I think it is on account of it being such a free-for-all. It's easy to rack up extra time on the clock and just mess around. The cars will only try to "race" you if you try to head to the finish line, otherwise they just try to take you out.

    • das

      guess you'd prefer barbie's horse adventures

  • Jadephyre

    I still have Carmageddon for PC, but since i'm too lazy to set up DOSBox, i'll have to make due with the Android-Version.

    I loved this game way back when, and I still do, one just has to enjoy the mindless fun and the hilarious amount of havoc you can wreak :D

  • PointZeroOne

    Played this to death back in the day and it's still just as much fun on the phone.

  • Steve Green

    7? Get off my lawn!!

  • superstepa

    I am pretty sure you can turn the driver voice off by swiping his/her icon off the screen

    • Baldyl0cks

      I swiped him away, but now cannot get him back. anyone else have this issue? clicking where he was does not work :(

  • primalxconvoy

    "... Carmageddon is controlled via virtual buttons, and they work well enough..."

    No they don't. They are atrocious. Especially the accelerometer controls.

    • http://www.modminecraft.com/ Nick Coad

      Maybe you're just terrible at the game, the controls were perfectly fine for me.

      • primalxconvoy

        Nope. Try again.

    • Elemetrix

      In what way are they atrocious? The game is designed to be digitally controlled. You have left and right then the pedals. On both my phone and tablet they scale well. I can't see how they wouldn't work.

      • sproketz

        I liked the ability to swap to an analog gas pedal in the settings. It gives you a ton more control and works like a slider with a rubber band attached to it.

        I tried the motion based tilt steering but that was a disaster.

        Would live to have the ability to hook up a bluetooth controller.

  • Matthew Fry

    Are you kidding me? 7 in 1997? Holy crap I feel old.

  • ebenexer

    Wait, some actually drives the laps, instead of destroying all other cars?

  • http://twitter.com/blahsum James Francis

    I'm loving it, but I do wish they added multiplayer. I also would have liked a tap button to recover, instead of using the menu. But it's awesome and vanilla Carmageddon at its finest.

    • Elemetrix

      Two finger tap the screen.