There was a golden age in gaming, a time where copyright and intellectual property laws were hazy for PC games. This time allowed small PC developers to essentially rip off films without any comeuppance and at the same time rise up the ranks in the consumers eyes. During this era we had such classics as Rowdy Roddy Piper’s film They Live get large chunks stolen and put into Duke Nukem 3D “I’m here to chew gum and kick ass, damn I’m all out of gum”. And we also saw Stainless Games lift the concept and point system from the 1970’s film Death Race. Well look who’s back risking law suits with a re-release of Carmageddon on iOS.
Carmageddon is essentially a racing game, where you and 5 other people drive your car around cities and mountains and other locations and first one to cross the finishing line wins. However there are other ways you can win, you could for example spend all your time not chasing after the finish line but instead chasing after your opponents, crashing into them, and sending their cars flying into a wall. If you manage to destroy all the other cars you win, this isn’t Mario Kart, this game features blood, death and crumpled heaps of metal flaming. Finally there is one last way to win. As I mentioned the game is set in cities, and what else do you find in cities other than skyscrapers and corporations? People, lots of people. If you manage to find every single person and destroy them all then you win. This may sound relatively simple but the first level of the game holds over 500 civilians just wandering around probably thinking about what they’re going to have for dinner.
Carmageddon is a classic game and one that all true gamers should have played at some point in their life. If nothing else this was one of the first major game controversies I can recall. As an industry there had been various issues in terms of violence in games like Doom and people going mental after playing Quake for too long but Carmageddon was essentially forced to make edits to their game. In 1997 the sight of pixelated blood flying out of the corpses of apparently innocent civilians was too much to stand in the UK and other European countries. The developers begged the BBFC to reconsider and even asked to be given an 18 rating, something very few people actively seek out as it closes off a lot of the market. The compromise was that the game would be allowed to be sold in the UK if they changed the pedestrians to zombies, to do this the developers did one small change, they changed the blood from red to green. And with that the game was allowed to be released and gamers all cheered or jeered depending on their stance on green blood. Months later Stainless got the BBFC to change their mind and Carmageddon was released with beautiful crimson fluid.
The version on iOS is the original with very few changes made. We’re blessed with the red blood meaning that Apple is more forgiving than the BBFC or the more likely option is that we’re painfully desensitised to blood 15 years later. Where changes have been made they’ve been done with an eye to the platform. The menus have all been updated with shiny HD graphics, which is slightly jarring when you go into a race and the graphics are the same as the 1997 release. The touch screen controls actually work, this is something that surprises me no end as I find touch screen controls actually work on very few games. Carmageddon however is simple to play straight from the countdown to the race. It’s obvious which is accelerate and break and the left and right pedals on the bottom left of the screen don’t obstruct any view. Had I bothered to look I’m sure I could have found some instructions but I didn’t and one element threw me completely. On my first race I had taken out all cars apart from a monster truck with a drill attached to the front. As I neared the end of the race I realised I had no idea where this truck was, until it flew into my side and sent me soaring through the air and landing on my roof. I had no idea how to flip my car and no idea how to repair it. It turns out that two finger tap on the screen resets and pressing the car damage meter in the top right repairs damage. For the first race some on screen tips would have been helpful for new players.
Overall this game is a kick in the head with steel capped nostalgia. It looks, feels and drives like the original and for any port from any age onto iOS this is an impressive feat in itself. The violence isn’t as shocking and the graphics aren’t amazing but the gameplay is simple fun. The game would have benefited with the addition of multiplayer as I know of many people who would have loved a six person race in this world. But as a stand alone single player remake this game is faithful to where it came from and at the same time made the adjustments to the platform and the time it’s being re-released in. If you didn’t play the game on PC or console back in the 90’s you should really give this game a go to see where many violent sandbox games got their inspirations today, and hell just play it because it has achievements titled “Cunning Stunt” and “Twattage”.
+Fun and with blood!
+In keeping with the original
-The original didn’t exactly look great
+Engine noises and crashes take you back to the 90’s without being offensive to your senses
SCORE – 8/10