Carmageddon: Max Damage PS4 Review
Publisher: Stainless Games Developer: Stainless Games Genre: Racing Players: 1-6
Age Rating: 18+ Other console/handheld formats: Xbox One
When Carmageddon was released on the likes of the PlayStation and N64 in 2000, these console versions weren’t very well received at all. Carmageddon: Max Damage is actually the first Carmageddon game to be released on consoles since 2000, and is based on Carmageddon: Reincarnation, which was first released on the PC back in 2013.
Carmageddon: Reincarnation came into existence thanks to the original developer Stainless Games getting the rights back to the series, and also thanks to Kickstarter backers, who helped raise over $600,000 to aid the development of the game. Carmageddon: Max Damage is an updated version of Reincarnation, and is said to feature 40% new content.
I can’t comment on the content in comparison to Reincarnation, but what I can say is that, with over 30 vehicles, over 90 power-ups, 5 locations, a lengthy career mode, and lots and lots of pedestrians (or Peds, as Carmageddon has always preferred to call them) to mow down, Max Damage does feature a wealth of content, which makes the game feel like good value for money, if nothing else.
The career mode has 16 chapters to work through, and lots and lots of chaos and destruction can be enjoyed against the crazy AI. Collectable tokens can also be used to upgrade your vehicles between events, and it’s possible to unlock new vehicles for your garage by destroying them in particular events.
The career mode would be lengthy enough, but it’s made even more so by the fact that further events can only be unlocked by earning enough points, which can take quite a bit of time, and you often find yourself having to replay events to earn more points. Events remain enjoyable, but it still feels like a slightly cheap way in which to extend the longevity of the career mode, particularly as events could have been unlocked a lot sooner than they are. Unlocked events in the career mode can then be played in other modes. As for those all important points, they are earned through various ways in each event, although they can also be lost by purchasing power-ups, as well as by instantly carrying out repairs to your vehicle, which is satisfying in the way that the parts that have fallen off your car magically reattach themselves.
Another fairly negative point is the vehicle handling, which is a bit heavier than it could have been, and sometimes makes the vehicles seem too stubborn to turn around corners properly. Don’t get me wrong, the controls are hardly tank-like and the handling is certainly better than the ridiculously slippy handling that was present in Carmageddon 64, but it can hardly be called the most welcoming vehicle handling in the world; it does actually require some patience. The AI also comes across as too bully-like at times, and they stick to your back-end like glue from time to time, which does tend to make them overly annoying and as if they are reading every button you press. Be aware, your AI opponents are definitely out to get you.
Some of the content of the game is also rather questionable and is sure to offend someone out there. Carmageddon has long been a controversial series that has been ruffling feathers for years now, and it was the hit and run murders of pedestrians that got many people’s attention in the first place, but these days it may be the use of words such as Spastic, which will really cause some offense. I’m not easily offended, but should a word that describes disadvantaged people really be bandied about in such a way for entertainment purposes? It’s very questionable to say the least.
Carmageddon: Max Damage features 6 different events. There’s the Classic Carma of course, which gives you the opportunity to win the race, destroy all your opponents, or kill all the Peds to win the event. Death Race is normal lap racing, but the twist here is that destroying opponents steals laps. Checkpoint Stampede and Ped Chase are similar in the way that you are racing to reach something before your opponents do. In the case of Checkpoint Stampede, it’s getting to the checkpoints before your opponents do, while Ped Chase has you knocking down marked pedestrians. Finally, Fox ‘N’ Hounds has you evading opponents until the timer reaches zero, and Car Crusher is all about the destruction of opponents to earn points.
Speaking of destruction, Max Damage has it in spades. Various parts of vehicles drop off as they are bumped about, and it’s even possible to rip vehicles in two, which isn’t only immensely satisfying but also proves the level of destruction that is possible in the game. The damage is definitely the most impressive thing about the bland visuals, which, on the whole, certainly don’t impress and look really quite ancient. Like I mentioned, at least the vehicle damage and destruction improves things somewhat, as do the ragdoll physics whenever Peds meet a bloody demise beneath your wheels or on your bonnet.
Despite the bland visuals, another thing that makes the game more interesting are the environments, which are designed well enough for plenty of chaos and craziness. Racing through American Football stadiums, city streets, and along a dangerous canyon injects the game with plenty of soul, particularly when you are also able to ride up buildings and even UFO’s. The comedic power-ups also add some personality to the game, with returning classic pick-ups as well as some brand new ones. Some of the pick-ups are used as soon as you come across them, while others can be used at a time of your own choosing. Pick-ups can grant you weapons such as anvils to use against opposing vehicles, and there’s others that often causes amusing things to happen to the Peds such as making them suicidal or to dance as if they haven’t got a single care in the world, allowing for easier kills. You may even find that some of the pick-ups will be negative towards your own vehicle, possibly making you more fragile, turning your vehicle’s suspension jelly-like, and there’s another one that even gives you a ball and chain to drag along behind you, slowing you down for the duration that it is attached to your vehicle. With over 90 to discover, there’s certainly an impressive number of power-ups in the game and for you to play around with to your heart’s content.
Other than the career mode, Carmageddon: Max Damage has a Freeplay mode and a multiplayer mode. It’s a shame that the game doesn’t feature any form of split screen play, but the online multiplayer for up to six players is a hugely enjoyable way to play the game, although it can hardly be called a very active online game right now, with what seems to be a rather small community. The absence of any Peds in multiplayer mode also remains rather odd to say the least and, being a Carmageddon game, they’re always missed whenever they’re not there to behave in an amusing manner or to be squished under speeding and unforgiving vehicle wheels.
Carmageddon: Max Damage has its fair share of issues, particularly in the enjoyable but overly padded career mode, heavy and sometimes unresponsive vehicle handling, lacklustre visuals, and some of the game’s content may also be questionable and is sure to offend some people as well. Flaws aside though, Max Damage is also an enjoyably chaotic game with a likeable and dark sense of humour as well as a pleasing amount of content to play around with.