That most tasteless of pedestrian-smashing driving games, Carmageddon, is back for another lap of gut-wrenching, bloody destruction. If you thought the original game was sickening, hold onto your stomach, because the sequel, Carmageddon II, is worse. Of course, for those of you who loved the over-the-top gore of the first game, this would be a good thing.
In essence, Carmageddon II has the same basic gameplay as the original Carmageddon. Ostensibly, this is a racing game where you compete with other cars. The tracks are in all kinds of environments, except for proper race tracks of course. Since the tracks are in heavily populated areas though, there are scads of obstacles in your path. I guess you have no choice but to plow through those pesky pedestrians in your way because, hell, you have a race to win. But, once you get your first taste of blood, there is no going back, so if you want, you can drive off the bloody path and devote yourself full-time to exploring the entire level looking for more plump pedestrians to kill, animals to run over, or property to wreck.
Perhaps the designers even know that the real draw of Carmageddon is the destruction and not the racing, because you get money, lots of money, from running over people, animals, and property. Cash flows in quite freely as you pulverize idle grannies, cops, and clowns. Take out multiple pedestrians and you get more money. The cash is very important because as you bang up others, your car gets banged up as well. Pretty soon, your car will be but a shell of its former self, limping across streets and thoroughfares. To get your vehicle back to top form, you'll need to cash in your blood money. Just a click of the button and your money automatically translates into repairs.
To both better render the carnage and show the damage to your vehicle, Interplay turned to an all-new, full 3D engine for Carmageddon II. While the first Carmageddon was 2D, with somewhat pixelated graphics, this version has a much better visual appeal. The graphics are clean and bright, although they aren't stunning like in Unreal. The engine does manage to pack lots of objects on a screen, while maintaining a good frame rate. So the action is fast and packed. The new 3D environment means there are more interactive objects, like drawbridges, destructible walls, pits, glass windows to shatter, roller coasters, and ski ramps. Levels not only stretch far to the left and right, but they also now dip and rise for more three-dimensional terrain.
What else will the 3D engine enable? For starters, your car now more realistically reflects the damage done to it. You can see the front bumper bend and crumple after it strikes a pedestrian, or the side doors sheer away after grating across the side of a runaway elephant. Or you'll see the whole top side of the car bend and warp after the car rolls over. Your windows will shatter after jarring impacts, and chunks of the car will break and then swing off. You'll also see working brake lights so you know when to stop after tailgating your opponent. The 3D engine also makes the death and destruction much more grisly and realistic. Pedestrians fall before your wheels with sickening fluidity. The way a man's head bounces off your hood as you cut him in half will make you cringe as you almost feel the weight of the head denting the hood. I hate to say it, but the carnage looks better than in the original.
Carmageddon II will offer tons of environments in which you can race and kill. There is an airport level, an Indy race track, a ski village, ruins of a nuked city, a desert, a junkyard, ball games and sporting events, and even an aircraft carrier. The types of objects you'll encounter here will fit in the environment... most of the time. I did see two elephants stopping traffic in one urban level, but they can be disposed of with enough vehicular force. You'll encounter two types of cannon fodder: people and animals. You'll see what you'd expect from the first Carmageddon, as well as gang members, cops, soldiers, lumber jacks, clowns, and tramps. The animals you'll slaughter will include the aforementioned elephants, polar bears, penguins, deer, pigs, "abdominal" snowmen, goats, lambs, rottweilers, and sheep. This is only a partial list that Interplay supplied me; there should be even more hapless victims to kill. And just in case simply running over or hitting these poor souls and pets isn't enough, there will be 90 power-ups at your disposal. These will include rear-attached giant maces, mines, flamethrowers, and oil slicks. There will be plenty of ways to kill people and destroy enemy cars.
There is something sick and disturbing about Carmageddon II. It doesn't help that the game now looks more realistic and the graphics more discernable than in the original. As I played and watched this beta copy of the game, I couldn't help but cringe at every blow struck. Yet, for those who enjoyed the original, I can't help but think that this is a better game in every way. You'll get your chance to be reviled or impressed when the game releases later this year.