Carmageddon: Max Damage Review

Summary

Create carnage in a wide range of large open world environments and smaller battle arenas, with plenty of fun stuff to smash into, smash up, snap off and sling around. Explore city streets and country trails, arid deserts and icy wastelands all packed with juicy meatbags for your killing pleasure.

Price: £29.99 or your local equivalent

Developer: Stainless Games

Publisher: U&I Entertainment

Reviewed On: Xbox One


The Review

Select from over 30 metal mangling vehicles designed for the job in hand; wrecking opponents and killing pedestrians! Each has its own highly distinctive character with a deranged driver to match!  Decide whether to race, chase, or kill in a variety of Carmageddon events against AI opponents or online against the rest of the masses. Boasting over 90 entertaining power-ups that will help or hinder your game in some hilarious fashion. You’ll soon discover which ones maim your enemy, enhance your performance, or just screw things up.

Back in 1997 the original Carmageddon game was banned by the British Board of Film Censors in the UK. The game came under fire from people in the press for containing sequences in which pedestrians are run over by the player. The developer, Stainless Games, was forced to ‘recut’ the game with zombies instead of pedestrians and the game finally managed to successfully appeal against the bbfc to get rated but at the time it was the most controversial game ever made.

Fast forward to 2016 and times are different. Western society has bared witness to many unfavourable sequences in modern society such as Miley Cyrus on a wrecking ball so running over pedestrians, even the disabled in wheelchairs, doesn’t induce the same amount of shock and in fact is quite humorous. Gamers can now enjoy an action-packed combat racing title with a slapstick showcase of cartoon violence. What we have here is Carmageddon Max Damage, a cousin of 2015’s PC-offering Carmageddon Reincarnation that was funded via Kickstarter but this console re-launch brings with it around 40% more content.

The very first chapter drops you into a stadium city that seems to be a call-back to the original Carmageddon. The tutorial while introducing the mechanics also seems like a way to steer you towards the stadium to create some truly gory violence. Players can relish as they gruesomely cut down football jocks and cheerleaders. Don’t worry, on the outskirts of the stadium there’s plenty of people in wheelchairs or elderly people with walkers to cut down too. Hey, I guess we could call that equality in an industry where we say minorities so often don’t get represented properly.

The car is but one tool of destruction at your disposal. One of the greatest features that Carmageddon Max Damage boasts is the range of power-ups scattered across the multiple arenas. These power-ups give you all more powerful methods of mowing down pedestrians in comical fashion. Freeze other cars, slice people’s heads off, electrocute anyone that gets too close or call in the rapture. Each one is unique and will be sure to incite laughter, especially in the early stages of the game as you are first introduced to these power-ups.

The biggest thing this game has going for it is the dark humorous way in which you mercilessly mow down hundreds of pedestrian in comedic style. However, this doesn’t carry the game as well as it might have done back in 1997 when the game was swamped in controversy. Despite being a game in which you drive a car; Carmaggedon Max Damage feels more like a destruction simulator than anything resembling a driving simulator and that’s a good thing. It’s what differentiates Carmageddon in 2016 as it did back with the original.

Max Damage feels like it is tailor made for fans of the original. There are enough changes to justify the game being made but the core features are no different. Ergo, if Carmaggedon didn’t grab your attention back in 1997 then don’t expect this game to grab it either. For newcomers to the series such as myself, there’s definitely a rather steep learning curve. Although it’s by no means a game to be taken too seriously, I often felt the enemy AI too much of an annoyance even on the easier modes and the feeling of the driving mechanics and physics to be too playful and resulted in some frustrating moments in where I would find myself at the bottom of a pool of water or slipping into a mine.

Graphically the game isn’t going to blow anyone away. Textures look dated and character models are too often cloned and unoriginal but the saving grace here is that the game has a very clean presentation. There was little screen-tear apparent and the motion felt smooth. In a game where I want to soak up all the gory visuals on the screen it was welcome to see a clean presentation. The game ran smooth in my time with the game and that’s always a must in fast-paced games. Although there’s not exactly the most intensive graphics running here, it’s good to see that the hundreds of pedestrians and effects on screen don’t slow the game down too much.

Personally the game has drawn a lot of parallels with the recently released Mad Max Fury Road that released to critical acclaim. Whilst obviously not borrowing anything per se from that film, it felt like it captured the essence of it more than the official Mad Max video games recently released which only makes Carmageddon Max Damage more fun.

Overall, Carmageddon Max Damage definitely has unique appeal. I can’t say I’ve ever really played another game like it. It’s mercilessly violent but not for any malicious reasons; this is crude humour at its height in the video game space. The physics provide for some truly fun moments and you’ll find yourself reaching for that “record clip” button more than once. The game isn’t anything special in terms of graphical fidelity but the clean presentation is more than welcome. The game’s formula feels a bit dated but can still be great fun when played in short playtimes

Carmageddon

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