Carmageddon Hands-On Preview with Video

To help raise additional funding for the development of Carmageddon: Reincarnation, the Stainless Games team has been hard at work porting the original Carmageddon to iOS devices. With this ‘fun-sized’ version just weeks away from release, we went down to the Eurogamer Expo to check out how well the ‘˜97 PC classic transitions to mobile platforms.

For those not familiar with the original title, you may initially see Carmageddon for iOS as just a singleplayer, timed racing game that seems to encourage a good amount of reckless driving. You can certainly play the game with this in mind and complete races by making it to the finish line without running out of time. However, if you want to make it that far, you’ll need to commit yourself to crashing into your opposition and running over plenty of helpless pedestrians, in order to put extra time on the clock.

Carmageddon is all about destruction. You can go as far as hunting down every pedestrian in a level to win the race, but that’s usually quite tricky unless you know the track inside and out. Instead, our preferred approach is to wreck all of the other cars that are competing and claim victory because there’s simply nobody else left to race with. You’ll probably want to stick close to the track for the sake of checkpoints, but expect to often find yourself off course, battling other vehicles and splattering cattle. Yup.

It was never going to be a question of whether or not Carmageddon is a fun game. The original title was very well received, despite (or maybe helped by) the controversy surrounding the levels of blood and gore. Just look at the amount of support surrounding the Kickstarter campaign for Reincarnation, and you’ll get an idea of the number of people who still remember this series fondly. No, the real question is whether or not this is a game that plays well with touch controls.

Thankfully, it looks like Stainless Games has done a pretty stellar job here. By default, you’ll steer with your left thumb by tapping and holding left or right; while the gas pedal, foot brake and handbrake are over on the bottom right. However you can switch your steering to tilt control, or if you’re happy with the touch buttons– but not their placement– they can be rearranged to your liking. This is the level of customization that we wish more games implemented, and it went a long way to alleviating our concerns over the move from keyboard to touchscreen.

Repairing damage to your vehicle is done by tapping the icon in the top-right; a two-fingered tap will take you back to the last checkpoint; while swiping left and right brings up a full-screen map, or an instant-replay. It all makes sense, and although the game definitely benefits from the larger screen of the iPad, Carmageddon feels comfortable on all devices.

Our experience on the show floor was limited to just two cars and three different races, but the full version promises 36 levels and up to 30 playable vehicles. These cars can be unlocked through in-app purchase, but we were assured by the team that all of them can eventually be obtained just by playing the game. As long as you can win races and wreck lots of cars, that is.

Carmageddon for iOS manages to walk the line between maintaining that visual style of the original game, while making sure players aren’t immediately turned off by outdated graphics. We may be guilty of looking at the game through slightly nostalgia-tinted glasses, but that in itself shows that this new version has captured the essence of the original Carmageddon. It’s difficult to predict how the game will translate to younger gamers, but if you played it 15 years ago and enjoyed it, you’ll probably get a kick from the iOS version too.

Carmageddon will soon be available on the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. According to our interview with Lead Designer, Simone McDermott– which you can watch below– the game has been submitted to the App Store and could be released within the next three weeks. As a thank you to Kickstarter supporters, Carmageddon will initially be free to download for a period of 24 hours, before being priced at $1.99.

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