When I was a little kid, my dad played a lot of car combat games. One was the original Twisted Metal and the other was Carmageddon. Upon first examination, it was just another racing game to me. However, when I looked deeper, I saw my first glimpse of an open-world racing game and video game ultra-violence. That’s all well and good in the 90’s, but in 2016, we’ve seen better.
Put simply, Carmageddon: Max Damage, which is a customized version of Carmageddon: Reincarnation for consoles, fails to recapture the series’ glory days. The free-roam maps are huge, but the game openly contradicts that design by requiring ultimate precision in a game that’s never been about that. Furthermore, the game also tells you to ignore all the cool stuff you see in a map just so you can grab a high score, one you can never attain, thanks to the rampantly frustrating AI in this game that is so much better than you, it’s unfair 9 times out of 10. In keeping with that frustration, the game also requires you to sit down for anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes per event.
Said events are unlocked via the game’s career mode, which shows you the various stages on display here. Some are straight races, which somehow makes the comical ultraviolence of the game boring; others are checkpoint-based; and a final mode that has all contestants trying to kill the same random person. Out of the varied selection, I think the game is at its best when it gives you the flexibility to hit the checkpoints, wipe everyone out, or killing the most pedestrians, as you’re allowed to actually experiment with the map and really get to know it. Unfortunately, this still doesn’t do enough for me to reconsider my stance.
Even worse, you’re left to sit there and twiddle your thumbs while you wait for minutes at a time, loading a level that looks like it could’ve been made on the PS Vita, which is readily apparent in the “Storage Vats” level. Sadly, not even the decidedly heavy metal soundtrack can save it, as it sounds like pure garbage, and that’s putting it lightly. Thankfully, though, you can just turn off the music entirely, or better yet, exit the game, ask your digital storefront for a refund, and forget you ever played it.
Not even the selection of cars can save it, unfortunately. Sure, there’s some nice joke cars based on pop culture, like the “Degoryun” aka the DeLorean from Back to the Future. The cars feel like they were put on a slip and slide, leaving you frustrated and angry every time you try and make a turn or try to hit a car. The power-ups are pretty decent, like the “pelvic thrust” that sends your enemies’ car several miles away, and there’s a bit of a game of risk and reward that I can at least appreciate.
Carmageddon: Max Damage feels like it was made in the late 90’s, which sounds great on paper, but not in action. Max Damage is the video game equivalent of throwing spaghetti at the wall and seeing what sticks.
Review code was provided by the publisher for the purposes of this review.