Maybe the Aussies, unlike the Brits, had sense of humour enough to understood what the game was really about. Carmageddon was grand guignol. It was never intended to be taken seriously. It offered an over-the-top horror catharsis just too plain silly to cause offence.
That's gotta hurt
And amid the sauce-splattered carnage, there was some impressive tech on display. Carmageddon sported clever physics modelling to manage the effect of jars, jumps, stunts and skids. It was one of the first driving games to implement sandboxed 3D game zones, allowing you to go anywhere you want within Bleak City, Devil's Canyon, Dusty Trails National Park and the Frosty Pass Ski Resort rather than clamp your car to the racetrack. This was Doom with cars.
That gave you an amazing freedom of manoeuvre, allowing you to pick your route to the checkpoints, and to avoid collisions or bring 'em on as the mood takes you. Mis-time a leap? Just go back and try again, then take a shortcut and win the race. Not too easy, that - the AI was smart enough to maintain a tough challenge.
Start your engines
And the racing wasn't bad, either, with bouts taking you around city streets and making you leap from roof to roof amid the skyscrapers. Misjudge the jump and you're either plummeting to ground level, or gaining bonus points for the unexpected stuntwork.
Glance at your avatar's face - aka Max Damage or Die Anna - in the ever-present rearview mirror at the top-left of the screen for the literally eyes-out-of-your-head effect of high-speed head-on collisions.
You could view the action through your car's window, or flip to a third-person viewpoint - changes of perspective players of today's driving games take for granted.
But it was the Mad Max prangs and the pedestrian roadkill that made Carmageddon the game it was: "berserk, absurd, epic and comical at the same time", as one reviewer nailed it back then. ®
Antique Code Show is published every two weeks on Wednesdays
Developer Stainless Games
Publisher Sales Curve International (SCi)
Year of release 1997
Platforms PC, Mac
More Retro Games
|Leisure Suit Larry||System Shock||The Dizzy Series||Rainbow Islands||Doom|
Making a new game
The Stainless crew have managed to get the rights back for the game and are making a new Carmageddon game :D
Also you can play the original carma + splat pack in 3dfx glory if you use one of the dosbox versions and various glide wrappers. Good times and even better ones ahead!!!
The BBFC were sadly too po-faced to realise that Carmageddon was basically an OTT game version of the 1975 "classic" Death Race 2000. I remember getting the Christmas-themed demo and later, the complete game, and being impressed at the work that went into the physics engine for allowing damage to the cars as well as the "drive anywhere you want" world design.
The soundtrack was also excellent - instrumental versions of a bunch of metal/industrial songs of the time including several tracks from Fear Factory's Demanufacture, IIRC. I have Carmageddon to thank for exposing me to FF, as it happens :)
Oddly enough, the more recent Carmageddon: TDR 2000 was in most senses a more refined or polished game but , to me at least, lacked to goofy charm of the original.
Times have changed...
This was a classic. I owned the complete uncensored game package (a "big" CD package which also contained all the expansions) and quite frankly; the carnage was plain out madness but the fun part was that the tracks / cities weren't all that bad either.
There was actually a lot to discover in most races; hidden pathways, huge bridges which put you /way/ above the city (the only question was always "how the heck do I get up there?") and sometimes you'd even travel over totally abstract sceneries (small islands only connected by a single road/bridge which were actually quite nicely setup). Or what to think about "How to get rid of the competition?", it was hilarious to see how some cars would still continue to run after they had been literally flattened :-)
Yes, it was carnage and total mayhem, but that's not all what made this game a classic IMO.
I always toyed with the idea to try and install Carmageddon sometime, even though the resolution is total bogus by today's standards. And then I got hold of Grand Theft Auto 4 which can really bring the "carmageddon experience" to a whole new level. As said; how times have changed...