“The arrival of Carmageddon: Max Damage on current gen consoles sees the latest instalment explode onto screens with power-up fuelled destruction that will have pedestrians running and pedalling for their lives, as players engage in brutal battles with fellow drivers, resulting in endless hours of violent and hilarious fun.
As Max Damage, homicidal driver of the Eagle R in the Carmageddon series, you go head-to-head in a host of frantic race events. Using your car’s weaponry and devastating PowerUps, you deal out devastation and punishment to opponents and the local population alike, tearing across a wide variety of free-roaming environments.”
Carmageddon is one of those games I was desperate to play when I was younger, but never actually got the chance to. I’d like to say it was because the game looked like a solid racer, but I’d be lying – I just wanted to mow down pedestrians. At least I’m being honest.
The series saw a revival in 2014 in the form of Carmageddon: Reincarnation, but now console gamers get to take part in the pedestrian killing, ultra destructive, super gruesome, car destroying action too thanks to the release of Carmageddon: Max Damage.
Don’t go expecting some grand context behind the destructive killing of Carmageddon: Max Damage. This isn’t a game where you’re aiming to become the ‘number one racing driver’ – it’s simply all about killing and thrilling with your deadly four-wheeled automobile.
Most levels task you with completing one of three simple goals: complete five laps of a set track, destroy all other racers, or mow down all the pedestrians in a level. Alternatively you could just explore every nook and cranny of each area, though you’ll have to cause some chaos if only to keep the in-game timer ticking.
There are a few other modes you’ll encounter throughout the game though, including the likes of standard races as well as checkpoint capture events where you compete with other drivers to collect a certain amount of checkpoints. The checkpoints can consist of floating markers or, fittingly, innocent pedestrians who just want to get on with their life. You won’t feel any guilt in Carmageddon: Max Damage though, even if you are wiping out groups of nuns…
The extra challenges are a neat addition and change the gameplay up, plus they offer a real incentive to wipe out your opponents – every time you destroy a rival racer you either steal their points or a lap they’ve completed of the race.
Of course, you’ll suffer extreme damage yourself during the game – at one point my car was completely sliced in half. Fortunately you can repair your car on the fly with the press of a button, though it’ll cost you some of your in-game points to do so. The alternative is driving with half your car missing, which is actually pretty satisfying but not the most effective means of playing through the game. You’ll suffer a ton of damage though, be it at the hands of your rival drivers or simply by colliding with the environment. I lost count of the amount of times I’d smashed my car apart due to my own bad driving…
I didn’t always feel that my bad driving was down to me though, with the controls of Carmageddon: Max Damage quite tricky to get on with initially. After you’ve played it for awhile you’ll start getting used to it, though it never feels wholly satisfying nor do you ever feel fully in control. It doesn’t help that rival drivers actively pursue you either – it’s difficult enough to drive around and hit hard turns, but when you’ve got other drivers ramming you into walls at any given opportunity it can make the experience all the more daunting.
Although the controls of the game aren’t the best, they won’t stop you unleashing hell throughout each level. Levels are huge and full to the brim with neat areas to explore and cool stunts to pull off. In the first level alone there are buildings you can literally drive up the walls of, a huge football stadium with cheerleaders and football stars to take out, a ton of huge ramps that let you jump from building to building, as well as a huge wave advertisement that lets you pull off a huge death-defying jump across a 360 degree loop. No matter where you are or what you’re doing, you’ll never be bored in Carmageddon: Max Damage.
Whilst the levels are well designed, they’re not a visual spectacle – I’d go as far as saying the game looks like an early last-gen game. The draw distances aren’t that great either, though fortunately the game doesn’t need to be a visual marvel to be enjoyed.
Carmageddon: Max Damage isn’t all about running pedestrians over though, arming you with plenty of weapons and power-ups to unleash max damage (see what I did there) on all of your foes. You do have to watch out though, as some can be more of a hindrance to you; you don’t want to find a power-up that slices your car in half for example, or sends you flying half-way across the map. Of course, when they work in your favour it can be pretty amusing – two of my favourite power ups would see pedestrians explode into a grizzly mess as I drove through them, whilst another would send them all into a dancing spree. Sure, it’s ridiculous, but it’s also pretty hilarious too.
The weapons are well varied and typically insane too, with my two favourites being the ‘mine shitter’ that simply drops mines, and the ‘opponent ejaculator’ that launches your opponents out of their car. I think it’s more that the weapon names tickled me as opposed to the quality of the weapon themselves, but still, all of the weapons in the game are satisfying to use.
One issue with the game that was particularly noticeable was the load times. Whilst levels were big and events typically lasted long, the load time beforehand would leave you waiting for quite a while. At times I actually wondered if the game would load at all with the loading bar seemingly freezing in place. Fortunately I didn’t encounter a single crash within the game… well… besides the ones between cars anyway.
Carmageddon: Max Damage features multiplayer that’ll let you smash your opponents apart on the online battlefield, but unfortunately there’s absolutely no form of local multiplayer. After playing through the game with friends in single player it was a real disappointment that there was no split-screen options, especially given that the destructive and silly nature of the game would compliment some competitive local multiplayer destruction.
Whilst Carmageddon: Max Damage certainly provides plenty of goofy fun, it has to be recognised as an absurdly violent game. If you don’t like the idea of smashing down innocent pedestrians and watching their remains fly everywhere, then the game may not be for you. The game even makes a joke of it too, with the phrase ‘mercy killing’ covering the screen when you run over an old person. It doesn’t end at old people either, with disabled people and nuns falling victim to Carmageddon: Max Damage’s ultra-violent ways.
I wouldn’t recommend Carmageddon: Max Damage to someone who wanted a racing experience – they’ll feel nothing but disappointment with the actual driving mechanics of the game. On the other hand, if you’re looking for something chaotic, silly and downright insane, then you’d certainly welcome it with open arms.
It may not look like much and it can certainly be a pain to control, but Carmageddon: Max Damage will offer plenty of fun and laughs to the right kind of gamer. Playing it with friends is even better, with the absurdity of the game all the more welcome when part of a group, even if you can’t actually play it in local multiplayer.
I’d never call Carmageddon: Max Damage a particularly great game by any means, but with such an abundance of destruction and carnage on offer I’m sure no one will really complain.