Numerous frustrations and too much repetition make the game hard to enjoy

User Rating: 5 | Carmageddon (German) PC

Initially, I found it hard to understand what the aim of Carmageddon was, and it wasn't even clear after reading other people's comments about the game or even the games' manual. Carmageddon uses a ranking system starting at 99, and you move up in rank via a series of six-car races through 36 circuits. Your rank dictates which of the 36 races you can enter and your rank increases by earning enough credits during a single race.

The 'race' ends when either one of the three victory conditions are met, or when the count-down timer has elapsed. The victory condition means you will increase in rank and can proceed, whereas failure means you will have to try again.

The three victory conditions are: complete the checkpoints and laps, destroy all cars, or kill all pedestrians. For the first victory condition, it plays more like a time-trial since your opponents don't have much interest in completing the laps. Instead, they like wreaking havoc and trying to crash into their opponents. Due to this, there is no concept of positions; you either finish the race or you don't. The second victory condition makes it play more like Destruction Derby which can be quite fun, and since that's what your opponents like to do; then they put up a fight. The third condition makes you feel like a serial killer, and good luck if you want to pursue this option since there are usually 400-500 pedestrians on the map; so it's gonna take some doing.

The pedestrians do attempt to get out of your way and it seems the various types of pedestrians have their own behaviour. Some dart to the sides, some dart backwards, some react early, some react late. Even the cows are pretty speedy at avoiding you.

The time-limits can feel quite strict on the normal difficulty. By killing pedestrians or crashing into cars, you are awarded with extra time. So even if you chose to race, it's basically mandatory to smash into cars or humans when you see a good opportunity to do so. On the easy difficulty, you get awarded with a significant amount of time, and there lies one of the biggest problems for me. Easy can be far too easy but normal can be too frustrating. Later on in your career though, Easy becomes very challenging too. I think some of the track ordering isn't perfect either. The second race is a very tough course. You have to brake hard so you don't fly off the hill and tip over, traverse some really tough jumps, and navigate a crazy loop-the-loop. It's definitely a silly choice to put this track second; there are some very simple tracks mid-way through which could have replaced this.

Another problem with the game is that it just takes far too long to make progress. If you are racing, there always seems one too many laps, and the final set of races have an insane amount of laps; 10-15, when you were bored after 6. Taking out all of the pedestrians seems an impossible task to me. Sometimes I was hitting all the pedestrians I could, going out of the way to maul them down but still only managed to get about 120. No way was I going to do another 300 of them. It seems silly to complain about lots of content, but 36 races just seems a chore to get through. Reducing the lap/pedestrian count would have reduced the grind.

The final problem I had was that your car has a tendency to flip. I put the brake to good use but still found myself spinning out of control far too often. There's plenty of ramps and you car is far too sensitive to flip, or just go nose-first on the descent, then toppling over. Add the fact that the other vehicles love to ram you, there plenty of times when they ram you as you are about to navigate a ramp. In a similar fashion, there's water that is sometimes mandatory to drive through. Obviously, this slows you down, but trying to accelerate usually lifts your front tyres from the road and trying to turn often flips your car. You waste loads of time, and then have to reset your vehicle, just to be forced to try again. Simply infuriating.

During your assaults on your opponents, and your inevitable collisions with walls, lampposts and cars, your vehicle will become damaged. There is a status screen which shows you the state of your car’s systems. This changes your vehicle's speed and cosmetic appearance. During the race, you earn money which can be used for on-the-fly repairs. You can even wrack up a temporary debt. If you flip your car, you can Recover your vehicle for the high price of 1,000. Money is awarded for passing check-points, killing pedestrians, stunts, attacking cars, smashing some barrels. Outside the races, you can buy better parts for your car and improve your Armour, Speed, or Damage. I would also have liked the ability to improve your car's brakes, since they are vital to maintain control of your vehicle.

Drivers can go off-road in order to take short-cuts, locate pedestrians, and find power-ups. Some of these are useful, like extra time, Free Repairs, Invulnerability, Pedestrians Shown On The Map, whereas some are actually a hindrance like Jelly Suspension, Pinball Mode, and Lunar Gravity.

Carmageddon's main selling point is the fact that you are encouraged to maul pedestrians. This was very controversial at the time which got the game heavily censored or outright banned in some countries. Much time has passed since its release and obviously now it seems quite tame in comparison to games like Grand Theft Auto. It still plays well enough today but it mainly feels like you are just messing about rather than accomplishing something. Personally, I think there's other vehicular combat games (with or without weapons) I've enjoyed more than this such as Vigilante 8, Rollcage, Destruction Derby, Burnout, and Split/Second. As for running over countless humanoids, I'd recommend Zombie Driver. There will be plenty of people that can enjoy Carmageddon and it's even been remade as Carmageddon Reincarnation (Early Access on Steam at the time of writing).