806th played so far

Genre: Driving
Platform: PC
Year of Release: 1998
Developer: Stainless Games
Publisher: Sales Curve Interactive/Interplay Entertainment

Carmageddon is one of those games that felt like a transition to adulthood for me. While we weren’t allowed to play – the violence and indulge in dark humour were too much for our parents – we got an illegal copy and I remember playing it while not telling my friends’ parents what we were actually playing. There was something exciting and naughty about it that made it even better.

A few years later, when I got a new system, it had the second game in the series – this one – installed on it, so of course I played it. By that point, my parents didn’t care as much and it was okay to play it – with some comments, but it was fine. I guess the world moved on, we got older, and it just didn’t feel as bad as presented. Twenty years on, more will have changed, but this is where we’ll see how that goes.

Our Thoughts

The first question to ask is whether Carmageddon II is a good racer? Whatever else the game may offer, it’s important that it does the basic gameplay well. The answer there is that as a racer on its own, it’s pretty standard. The game feels quite floaty, especially with your first car, and you don’t have a lot of grip (it’s pretty bad, to be honest, if this is meant to be average grip). It’s not impossible, but if you want to have the collisions this game has, it’s good for your car to have some weight to it. In a blast to the past, the game still uses a standard checkpoint system: go from point to point in the time allotted. What saves that is that the game is very generous with bonus time, so unless you go out of your way to be a good person, which isn’t easy in the game, you might run out.

Here’s the thing though: Racing around the track isn’t really the fun part of the game. Sadly some challenges require it, but when you can it’s not what you want to focus for. Another is to kill all the pedestrians in the level – the bit msot people objected to, but not something you want to do normally. They’re a quick source of extra time and money, but they get exhausting to find after a while.

More enjoyable, and what you’d want to do, is to waste your competitors. They’ll seek you out too, sometimes, which makes that more helpful, but it’s a lot of fun to find the different ways to waste them. More important, if you wreck another car, you get a chance to buy their car at the end. Getting a sturdier, heftier car really helped moe going forward – just to get more cars.

What makes finding the pedestrians more difficult, but chasing the cars more fun, is that the game’s levels are pretty big. Multiple courses use the same level layout with different routes and checkpoints. The areas still seem bigger than that and it feels like there are more secrets and easter eggs in there that can take a while to discover. It also makes it a lot more fun to wreck cars, as there are so many more places to go – even underwater if you want to, which has more there than you’d expect.

Final Thoughts

Carmageddon II isn’t a great racer. It’s fine, but feels too floaty to really work well as a racing game. Where it sets itself apart is in its violence and how much it indulges in it. It’s far from realistic, but that comedy is what makes it work. It’s crass, but goes far enough for it that it works here.