Carmageddon! Once upon a time, that sort of nihilistic wanton violence was cool and edgy, and a heck of a lot of fun. I remember spending hours mowing down pedestrians with a maniacal grin upon my face, cackling at the death and carnage my still terrible driving skills wrought.
There’s a new one out today. Carmageddon: Max Damage is a Throwback to a less enlightened – perhaps less sensitive – age. But have games, and the people who play them grown up since then? Perhaps. This game certainly hasn’t. Like Duke Nukem, this game is such a product of the 90’s that it probably should have stayed there.
What do critics think of the new Carmageddon. Spoiler: Not a lot.
Carmageddon: Max Damage is one of the cheaper console games on the market, but that alone doesn’t warrant a recommendation. The poor presentation, long load times, and clunky driving don’t do it any favours either. This is one game you can safely avoid.
Max Damage is an ugly game. You could argue that the developers at Stainless Games have deliberately targeted a retro look, but that doesn’t prevent it from looking drab, empty, poorly textured, low poly, and a bit of a mess. And it takes ages to load each stage. The frame rate also struggles to maintain 30fps, which is shocking given that this is truly on a visual level of a low-grade PS3 release that never made it to retail stores.
I quickly got over being shocked about the content in Carmageddon: Max Damage. It’s a game that’s designed to push buttons and get people up in arms, no matter if they are genuinely bothered by it or not. This misjudged swagger, evident across every part of the experience, could blind you from the game buried underneath, but don’t let it. This is yet another cash-in designed to pull the wool over your eyes. Poor games don’t deserve your attention, no matter how much you liked something in the past.
Carmageddon’s revival gets off to a sloppy start, though it gradually gets better with perseverance. Drawbacks such as the fickle handling and the so-so presentation become easier to overlook, but those first few hours can be a major slog. Swapping out AI racers for real life opponents will no doubt help to alleviate some of its issues, but even then, Max Damage doesn’t manage to propel this much-loved franchise back past the growing pool of troubled combat racers.
The structure and play of the Carmegeddon titles have always centered around being a beautiful mess; Max Damage is no different. The folks over at Stainless Games obviously “get it” in ways that developers of other goofy racers never did. While this game is a reworking of Reincarnation, this should actually be viewed as the final form of that less than stellar outing. So much so that owners of that title should find this added to their library at no charge. For console gamers or those approaching this fresh, this is an easy recommendation. It’s fun and just the right kind of depraved.
Carmageddon: Max Damage is a fairly unattractive game. There’s not a whole lot of detail to the environments, and inconsistent textures and regular pop-in mar the experience – none of which is helped by the slow down and hyperactive physics. Perhaps luckily for Stainless Games, no one is going to buy Carmageddon expecting a straight racing game to rival Forza or even Need for Speed. They’re buying it for balls-out mayhem, ultra violence, irreverent humour and, above all, catharsis. Sweet, blood-soaked, unashamedly offensive catharsis – and Carmageddon: Max Damage has all of the above in spades.