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Carmageddon
"The streets and roads are alive with a swarm of wandering Zombies with detachable limbs" Image Loading...
Developer: SCI
Distributor: SCI
Game Type: Action
Review Date: Oct 99
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Setting the Scene:
 
      Both Carmageddon 1 and 2 were released on PC amidst a storm of controversy, with calls to "ban this killer car game" from the media and the governments around the world. Both games then went on to prove their critics wrong by scooping a body bag full of awards around the globe.

The Playstation version offers new levels, missions and cars. Of course it wouldn't be Carmageddon without a few pedestrians to mutilate, therefore the streets and roads are alive with a swarm of wandering Zombies with detachable limbs. Now if this doesn't get those do-good'ers up in arms maybe letting a few stray animals loose on the streets will. Anyone for battered beef?

Genre:
 
      Carmageddon sees you pit your wits and wheels against 30 other maniac drivers over 30 massive race circuits in your quest to become the Prince of the Pile-up and the King of the carnage.
 
Sound and Vision:
 
Image Loading...      When I first began writing reviews for API, I vowed to remain constructive in criticism. Too many paper publications were simply throwing a few pictures and paragraphs together claiming how excellent/crap they rated a particular game, without explaining the reasons why.

Carmageddon is one of those games that makes you instantly want to switch off the console and go do something more worthwhile. Unfortunately my policy doesn't include this 'get out clause' leaving me with my greatest challenge yet... sticking with Carmageddon for more than five minutes and then being constructive. Here we go!

First impressions ARE very important and the Carmageddon intro falls short of the usual standard set by the majority of Playstation titles. In fact SCI should be commended for not going overboard and creating a false impression of the in-game visual content.

Image Loading... Once the game begins the sheer untidiness of the graphics immediately become evident as the camera swoops down from above and settles behind your misshapen car. Aerodynamics go out of the window as each vehicle on view has more corners than an octet of octagons. Meanwhile, they all bob up and down on the starting line 'attempting' to create the illusion that the engine is actually running.

I'm not quite sure what the opposite of pop-up is (pop-down??), but as soon as the announcer gets the race underway all the vehicles disappear from sight when barely a few lengths in front (I'm not talking gradually here either). Inching further down the track the reverse effect takes place (pop-up!) as barriers, buildings and road surface are suddenly thrown up in front of you, often requiring drastic braking action. Soon the rival vehicles have realized that you aren't keeping up with the pack and decide to about turn and come back for a multi-damaging head-on-collision. I wouldn't have minded this tactic had they been visible in the distance and not dropped on top of you at the very last second.

Image Loading...The scenery is constructed entirely from polygon's blocks, and unfortunately not all them join at the edges. Negotiating an opening creates not only a control problem (we'll get onto that later) but also a visual one. I lost track of the number of times that my vehicle jammed in the scenery when attempting to squeeze through a narrow tunnel or under a tight bridge. Quite often you can see several routes that look fun to travel along, such as the Hot-Rod loop-the-loop. Unfortunately negotiating access is just not worth the time and effort.

Scattered across these 3D 'drive anywhere' circuits are a multitude of pedestrian 'Zombies'. We all know that they really represent human beings, but mowing down innocent women and children would not be classed as fair game... therefore Zombies it is. These little polygon people wander aimlessly around the set and at least provide a wry smile with their reactions. When approached they will raise their little hands into the air and attempt to leap out of the way of your vehicle. The splattering effect as they are smashed into is probably the best part of the visuals from an otherwise messy graphical affair.
 
Playability:
 
      Now Carmageddon on PC must have had something special about it to get the acclaim that SCI insist it received. Or maybe it was all hype and publicity?

Image Loading... Carmageddon on Playstation has two specific modes of play. Head to Head is the split-screen two player game with three fun modes of play. First there's Car Crusher, a simple one-on-one fight to the death in any of the circuits that have been opened in the single player mode. Fox 'N' Hounds covers the same tracks, but the winner is the player with the most cash at the end of the race. Checkpoint Stampede is an honest race to each checkpoint.

The single player game is divided into groups. Five individual races must be completed within the time given to open up the final Group Mission. To win a race the player must complete the allocated number of laps, passing through all checkpoints, in the allowed time. The twist being that the given time is never long enough to complete the course. To combat this problem time bonuses must be collected during the race. These are hidden in colored barrels that litter the course. Of course the player doesn't know if they will receive a time bonus or a power-up until after the barrel has been collected. Additional time bonuses may be gained by mowing down a crowd of Zombies, or crashing into an enemy vehicle using only sufficient force as to not completely write-off your own transport.

Image Loading... Power-up's seem fairly random and include the usual turbo boosts and short periods of indestructibility but there are a few exclusive extras including the wonderfully titled Electro-Bastard Ray that fries every Zombie in the near vicinity. Each Zombie that is killed racks up a certain amount of money that is used to upgrade and repair your vehicle.

While concentrating on completing the race approximately five enemy vehicles do their best to slow you down and take you out of the race. They will line up and block routes, smash into and damage your vehicle, push your car off the circuit... in fact anything goes and the challenge is pretty tough.

Doesn't this all sounds like great fun? Well... it would be had the handling of the vehicles not been so abysmal. Pressing left on the D-pad is supposed to turn your vehicle in that general direction. At first nothing happens. Then, what must be a full second later, the car decides to react to your command. After barely five minutes play my thumb was getting so blistered with pressing down really hard on the D-pad just trying to get some sort of control over the damn vehicle. Using the analog pad removes this potential thumb injury, but it still suffers from the delay in reaction.

Worse still the viewing angle is as late as the 9 O'clock Express arriving on Platform 4 at 10:15am. Turning a corner is quite an event. Especially when the camera refuses point blank to remain behind the vehicle, only deciding to catch up with play when you are safely back on the straight and narrow. Another disgraceful bug that makes playing this game a real chore.

It's such a shame because many of the circuits have been so well designed. In fact gamers who got their rocks off on Twisted Metal 2 would be in Heaven playing in these crazy 'go anywhere' worlds. There is an abundance of rooftops to gain access to, and dozens of ramps that lead to a wealth of hidden goodies, but trying to line up with these slopes is sometimes impossible.

Do you want to know the craziest thing? After all the cursing and swearing... all the pain and suffering... following two whole days of Hell... I was still playing the game. Sad, isn't it? Perhaps SCI have cast some sort of spell.
 
Game Options:
 
      This is a 1 disk game for 1 or 2 Players. It is compatible with the standard (digital) joypad and the analog stick controls of the dual shock joypad. Games can be saved via memory card (1 block per save).

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Staff Opinions  
Martin: "Tut, tut, tut! Tut, tut, tut! Tut, tut, tut! Tut, tut, tut! Tut, tut, tut! Tut, tut, tut! Tut, tut, tut! Tut, tut, tut! Tut, tut, tut! Tut, tut, tut! Tut, tut, tut! Tut, tut, tut! Tut, tut, tut! Tut, tut, tut!

With an enormous tweak of the graphics engine, a complete redesign of the physics and possibly a huge amount of extra money Carmageddon could be a classic. As it stands... it's all hype.
Buy or rent?
Your choice. But don't say I didn't warn you!"
Graphics: 10/20
Playability: 25/50
Sound: 7/10
Lastability: 15/20
Overall: 57%
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Reader Opinions  
     

 
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