Carmageddon is one of those games where its production history and subsequent controversy almost overshadow the actual game itself. It was originally designed back in 1997 as a companion game to a remake of the movie Death Race2000, but when that movie never happened, the game developers decided to keep on making the game on their own. In keeping with the theme of the movie, Carmageddon was an ultra-violent car racing game where the players would score points for running over pedestrians, performing super crazy stunts and destroying the other racers.
Decried by many for its, at the time, extreme violence, it was banned in the UK and other countries for its gory animations and buckets of blood. Over the years it has received a few sequels and has become something of a cult-classic. Now the game has been ported to iOS. Is it as much fun now as it was back in the day? In a word: kinda.
Run, businessman, run.
If you’ve been following our coverage of the game over the weeks, then you’ve got a pretty good idea as to what you’ve got in store for you. You race your car through 36 giant and insane race-tracks that have been turned into killing fields. Your goal, obviously, is to win each race, but how you do that is up to you. You can win the race in the traditional way, or you can win it by crushing all of your opponents into street-pizza or turning all of the wayward citizens wandering the streets into roadkill. The last way is the hardest as there are lots of people to mow over and they rudely try to get out of the way of your angry driving. There are also cows to run over. Lots and lots of cows.
The game gives you incentives to keep playing and finds all sorts of energetic ways to keep you in the race. There are a bunch of achievements, you get points and cash for performing crazy and absurd stunts (you’re really gonna smile when you perform a PileDriver), the people flail around like ducks at a shooting gallery just begging to be run over, and there’s a disturbing sense of glee when you smash an opposing racer into a land mine.
Interestingly, Nabokov coined this phrase.
As you burn through the races, you unlock new cars by destroying them on the field, and you also unlock lots of ways to customize your rolling killing machines. During races you win money to buy things in the shop and you can load up your car with roll-cages, giant spikes and huge engines. The bigger and better your car, the more vehicular mayhem you can cause.
Paramount to any driving game are the controls, and this is where Carmageddon falters a bit. There are three different control modes, digital, analog and tilt. They’re serviceable at best and terrible at worst. The digital controls give you buttons for steering and gas and brakes, while analog uses sliders for these functions. One thing we thought was really cool is that you can combine the different control aspects however you like. So say you want to use the tilt controls for steering and the analog controls for acceleration, it’s just a simple matter of changing these in the menu. This kind of customization is great and provides a way for players to find a control scheme that works for them.
Extra pepperoni, please.
Unfortunately, the cars can sometimes control like rudderless battleships. At times you’ll find yourself spinning out, wandering off the track, running into things, and generally losing control. Now granted, careening into other cars, bulldozing gawkers and zipping all over the place is part of the fun of this game, but you at least want to be able to control when you do this as opposed to feeling like the game is sometimes taking control away from you.
The analog controls are particularly annoying. Here, you slide your fingers left and right to steer and up and down for acceleration and braking. Unfortunately, the game also uses swiping right to open the map and swiping left to activate the Action Replay option. So while using analog we found ourselves accidentally opening the map or Action Replay screens quite a bit. We think the digital controls are the best, but again they’re merely the lesser of the evils.
Carmageddon is a really fun game, but it’s hampered by some bad controls and the fact that it really hasn’t been updated in any way for modern gamers. It’s basically a straight port. But if you can get around the games flaws you’ll find yourself with plenty to do and maybe even a devilish grin on your face as you smash through two and four-legged targets and exploding cars with gore running down your windshield.