The original Carmageddon was banned in Brazil for inspiring road rage. Well, if you're the sort to play a game and apply those skills you've just cultivated to your real-life routine, then not only should you not come anywhere near Carmageddon II, but you should probably just be locked up somewhere safe. However, if you're not adverse to a little lowbrow humor and a lot of violence and mayhem, you'll find plenty of action and still more fun in the visually refined sequel.
You'll need to be at least a little mean-spirited to truly appreciate them, but Carmageddon II's graphics look good by any standards. The three dozen-odd cars are meticulously detailed and wildly creative: You get to drive and destroy everything from a tricked-out '70s low-rider sporting front-mounted jackhammers, to a muscle car crossed with a World War II prop plane, to a dragster, to a dune buggy, and much more. They're not real cars, but they look real enough, especially when you smash them (or into them) and they crumple and crack in all the right places. Then again, the cars in Carmageddon always did look good, although the same couldn't be said for their targets, the lowly pedestrians who were mere 2D sprites in the first game and didn't look right against the 3D cars. But now the pedestrians, comprising a cornucopia of humans and wildlife, join their hunters in the third dimension, which unlocks a world of gory, new opportunities for the player. They'll come apart at the seams, go flying through the air, burst into blood and guts, and worse as you careen into them in every which way, earning money for each and every kill. Were it not for the rather plain-looking tracks and a frame rate that can falter even on high-end systems, Carmageddon II would look entirely excellent.
Of course it's tasteless. But if the country can embrace a foul-mouthed and foul-mannered prime-time cartoon show, then it's ready for Carmageddon II. Besides, it's a funny game. You'll pick up dozens of different power-ups that affect the innocent bystanders in absurdly hilarious ways: They'll explode when hit, pop and fly away, dance in place, stumble like drunks, have huge heads, turn huge altogether, turn tiny, turn fat, turn tall, turn skinny, turn completely immortal - you name it. And the carnage is set to the perfectly appropriate music of the quintessential heavy metal band Iron Maiden, as well as a few guitar-heavy instrumental pieces that, while they aren't Maiden, aren't bad. Unfortunately, the other sound effects in the game are only fair, as pedestrian screams and steel wrenching against steel all start to get repetitive fast.
In any event, you'll probably be too wrapped up in the game to be bothered. Like the first game, you don't need to follow too many rules. You can race around the track past a series of checkpoints through several laps and end a race, but you'll often find it easier (and a lot more fun) to total all the enemy cars vying to do the same. Either objective is made both challenging and enjoyable thanks to the wacky hyperrealistic physics model behind the game that has cars careening through the air and against buildings and one another at the slightest invitation. You'll find yourself in all sorts of incredible and ridiculous wrecks, often with those hapless pedestrians at the center. Thankfully, you can magically repair or recover your car at the touch of a button, and for a price. And because the collisions rarely force you into a frustrating situation, and the physics model is so open-ended, and there are so many silly power-ups, Carmageddon II ends up being entertaining for a long time.
That's not to say it never gets annoying; because of the linear race progression, you'll sometimes get stuck on a timed mission objective that you'll have to replay until you get it right. But the game isn't all that difficult, and a little perseverance should get you past any roadblocks, metaphorical or not. What you're left with, then, is a game that isn't serious at all but instead offers a fun and colorful, albeit predominantly red, environment to drive across, through, or over. Carmageddon II isn't the most ambitious game you'll ever play, but chances are it'll be one of the more enjoyable games you've tried lately.