Let me take you back to a different age in gaming. Platformers were still all the rage, modern battlefields were nowhere to be seen and storming Normandy Beach was more popular than a Backstreet Boys concert. And then along came Carmageddon, skidding onto screens while tail-swiping pedestrians in an ocean of blood that upset mothers and eager politicians all around the world. The venerable racer and genocide simulator is back, this time on mobile devices. But does it still have charm, or is it a stark reminder of how far we’ve come in recent years?
There’s no denying just how gory Carmageddon is, even in this more desensitised day and age. Released originally in 1997, the game was a huge hit for its guilty pleasure of being able to digitally enact some road rage, and nothing has changed here.
There’s no green blood, no zombies and a lack of pedestrians on the iPad. They’re everywhere, all waiting to jump out of your way before you pile-drive slam them into a wall with the horses under your hood of bloody steel.
Developer Stainless Games has ported the entire title over, a quick 100 MB download that crams in multiple races, tracks, cars and gratuitous gore. Players still get to pick one of two racers, Max Damage or Die Anna, who’s FMV heads bob and weave with the slightest jostle of your car, as you take on the various tracks on offer.
Races can still be won in one of three ways, from actually completing a race, through to wiping out your opponents or killing everything you see. And they’re still gleefully fun to take part in. Players get the option to change their grid positions, but besides that, everything is pretty much open game.
At first, cars handle like a greasy egg in a frying pan, slipping and sliding everywhere, but once eventually mastered, pulling 180 degree turns and precise steering techniques becomes second nature. Steering and acceleration are all done on screen, although the placement of the controls can be problematic at times, causing inadvertent shifts and turns at the wrong time.
Cars are still destructible, and that includes whichever hot rod you’re currently cruising in, with touch screen gestures used to repair your vehicle, from points taken from dead pedestrians and destroyed foes. Power-ups and WTF-ups are still dotted around stages, from mega-turbo boosts, through to jelly suspension, explosive civvies and an instant handbrake, adding some spice to the road carnage.
The game is still challenging on higher difficulty levels, but it’s still so much damn good fun as well. The visuals, while dated, are smooth and precise, the sounds are splatteringly authentic and tracks are just massive playgrounds to cause all kinds of mayhem in.
For $2, or an extra buck depending on how hooked you are for some bonus content, it’s a pretty good package overall. There’s plenty of tracks on offer, and it makes for some nostalgic fun.
Carmageddon may not be a perfect port that suffers from slippery cars and some control issues, but when it comes to mobile racing with an excessively violent tone, it doesn’t disappoint. Plus your mother will probably still disapprove of you playing it.