If violent games encourage real world atrocities, why am I not making handbrake turns into old grannies, wheel spinning in their chest cavities only to shoot forward and send a cop splattered across my windscreen? Well, for one, the damage to my car would be catastrophic. I do not know what the Eagle, Hawk and other vehicles from Carmageddon are made of, but it ain’t from
. And being able to repair damage on
the fly - that is just pretty sweet. Kansas
Those sucking off the teat of nostalgia might often muse how things aren’t made like they used to. But there is no sentimentalism when declaring as much about Carmageddon. With the exception of its two sequels nobody has ever made a game like this road rage simulator - before or since. I recall that even the developers, writing in the CD booklet, refused to dedicate the game to their friends and family. They felt the game was just too disgusting. It’s a tongue-in-cheek commentary - I’m sure they were very happy to show people this gem. But Carma was special. Set in a presumably post-apocalyptic future (a theme the series took on from the second game onwards), you take part in street races, tearing around corners and trying to win. Typically arcade, a series of checkpoints made sure you stayed on the straight and narrow. Except, thanks to one of gaming’s first sandbox worlds, you didn’t need to. The only real loss condition was to run out of time.
How did one get time? Ram into your opponents and mow down pedestrians. To win you have to complete all the checkpoints, destroy all the other racers or take out all the pedestrians (which is pretty much impossible). Such actions also gain you cash, used to buy one of the three upgrades available. Depth is not Carmageddon’s strong suit: the upgrades are shallow, the driving mechanics infantile and the track designs pretty counter-intuitive (racing tracks, that is, not the fantastic Fear Factory soundtrack). The AI is retarded and forget the other racers catching up to you - they are sometimes just randomly transported to be somewhere nearby.
None of that is bad, since Carma is not out to endear you with racing. Insanity is the order of the day here - plowing into people, bouncing off walls, electrocuting the hell out of athletes on the football pitch... This is not a serious game: low-brow wordplay offer level names like ‘I Scream In the Sun’ and point-enhancing actions like the ‘Cunning Stunt Bonus’. Yes, you read right (and reread if you didn’t). Other bonuses include Piledriver (ram something into a wall) and my favourite, the “Nice Shot, Sir”, where you send an object flying into a pedestrian.
Carmageddon was insane fun in multiplayer (on the defunct IPX protocol) and ought to make a reappearance on Live and Steam. But maybe it isn’t possible to return to this kind of game, forged in the same era as when Doom and the original Grand Theft Autos were sowing even more insanity. God, I miss gaming in the Nineties. They really don’t make them like they used to. Suckle.