August 31, 2021 at 11:14 pm #4964
I accepted that I was never going to finish Star Trek 25th anniversary (it was a busy month), so I decided to start Carmageddon a little early. And I have to admit I’m pleasantly surprised.
I should mention the big issue first. I could write an essay about that 90s to early 2000s shock/offensive humour, but suffice it to say it has not aged well.
HOWEVER, in Carmageddon I found it didn’t make me cringe like in some other games or TV shows; it just didn’t have the same effect on me it would have when I was a teenager. If you just replaced all the pedestrians with zombies or evil aliens or something, I don’t feel it would affect the quality of the game in any way.
That out of the way, I found myself really enjoying it so far. I never played it back in the day, and maybe only watched someone else play for a few minutes, so I’m going in pretty fresh. From pix’s magazine reviews I was worried the learning curve would be too steep, but I haven’t found that to be the case (probably because I’m playing on easy mode!)
For how badly the humour has aged, the gameplay feels surprisingly fresh. While it’s technically a racing game, you have way more freedom than any other racer I can think of. There are multiple ways you can win each map, and simply getting to the end first is purely optional.
I’m not hugely into racing games generally. I have the same opinion as I do with all sports games and fighting games. If it’s too “pure” an experience (ie, a totally realistic simulation) I find it boring – it needs to have gimmicks, and the more the better. And Carmageddon has gimmicks in spades. Weird powerups, crazy stunts, stupid cars, impressive crashes, unusual mechanics – it’s all there. And best of all, I feel I can do each map my own way. I don’t have to grind for hours, memorizing every turn and perfecting my grasp on the handling and physics (which are surprisingly fiddly) – I can just casually drive off and smash all my opponents into walls, because they’re distracted in some field mowing down pedestrians!
Again, I’m sure it gets more demanding at higher difficulties and later levels, but this is just my first impression as the title says.September 1, 2021 at 11:04 am #4972
I sneaked an early go on this as well, just to try and get the 3dfx version running. It runs ok for me on a Voodoo3, provided I run the DOS version from Win98 for some reason but I don’t have any cutscenes. I’m thinking I can live without them so I’m just going as is.
I finished this and the sequel back when they were new but haven’t been back since so don’t remember too many of the details. The first thing that struck me is that the manual has massive sections redded out (as per the attached image) and an insert page to replace them. The version I’ve got is the UK zombie version so I’m assuming this is to do with censorship. There was a massive fuss about the violence in the game when it came out. A new version got released with all the people turned into zombies and some of the cutscenes changed. This must have got coverage in magazines of the time it occurs to me – I’ll have a root around and see if I can find something. Patches were later released to put the blood back in. None of it makes any difference to the gameplay – it’s a lot of fuss over nothing as far as I’m concerned.
Either way, the game still plays really well. It’s very impressive for 1997. This came out a little before GTA1 yet it’s all full 3D instead of overhead. I love all the little details, like the stadium full of American football players you can mow down, or the humorous advertising billboards. The car physics feel spot on. The car even slides around more and cuts the grass up when driving in the stadium. I’m not that big on racing games myself but it doesn’t matter here when you get rewarded for just going off exploring provided you take out pedestrians while you are at it.
From what I can remember, the game carries on with more of the same the longer you play and doesn’t change things up all that much. It’s been a long time though and I don’t honestly remember anything of the levels other than getting to mow down cows at some point (possibly in the sequel?). It could get stale if so but will still be fun to dip in and out of I’m sure.
Attachments:September 1, 2021 at 11:12 am #4974
I’m glad you’re enjoying the game! It really is quite impressive for 1997. The maps are pretty huge for a 3D game from that era and it plays surprisingly smoothly.
I’m glad it’s running well for you, on what I suspect is real hardware. I wonder if people have the same experience with Dosbox. I’ve read it can be fiddly, but I’ve tried it myself a few years ago and found it running alright for me, so idk what others will make of it.September 1, 2021 at 11:17 am #4975
The game ran flawlessly for me straight away with no tweaking or anything. (Pentium I 166, Voodoo 1 card, pure DOS)
Well, apart from the MIDI music that is, but I think that has something to do with my system because it’s not the first game I’ve had problems with.September 1, 2021 at 11:21 am #4976
I wonder if I played this in Glide back in the day. I only got a Voodoo card in 1998, so perhaps I played this in software mode? Or maybe I went back to it. I really can’t remember.
Either way, the software mode looks pretty decent to me nowadays, so I’m not going to bother to try to run it with 3D acceleration now, although I think there are forks of Dosbox which allow this.September 1, 2021 at 10:30 pm #4997
Yeah, I found software mode surprisingly respectable, and runs quite smoothly too. It honestly doesn’t take much away from the experience.
However, I skipped over the early 3D accelerated era back in the day, and I haven’t given the Voodoo card in this machine much of a workout, so I’m using this game as a good way to experience what I missed out on! (And isn’t that what this club is all about?)September 5, 2021 at 12:14 pm #5043
I’ve had another look at it and got this running in DOS with a Voodoo3 and with the cutscenes this time. To cut a long story short, there is a different Voodoo2 patch I had to use + that patch doesn’t seem to like EMM386 at all but it’s fine if I remove it altogether.September 5, 2021 at 12:33 pm #5044
Speaking of graphics: it’s also possible to play the game in SVGA software mode if you start it with the “-hires” argument.
It’s too choppy for me in Dosbox, so I’ll just play the chunky low res version. But if you’ve got fast hardware, it might be worth a look. It’s really nice and crisp!
You can also press + and – to increase/decrease the game window size, which can improve the framerate a bit.September 24, 2021 at 9:16 am #5097
I’ve been working away at this all month, very nearly beaten the game now. It’s been a fun one to revisit and held up surprisingly well. Some of the mechanics feel kind of broken though and I have some gripes. I’ve stuck with normal difficulty the whole way and aspects of the game that should have added depth just don’t work. The car part upgrades appear to become available with rank but every time new parts become available, I’ve already enough cash to buy all of them so the choice of what to buy is meaningless. Cash maxes out at 999,999 and I’ve reached that long before I have anything to spend it on.
Similarly, there is some mechanic where you get to drive your opponents cars by occasionally stealing them when taking them out during a race. Not sure if this is simply random but I’ve made it to the end of the game without getting a car I could seriously consider over the default. I only ever seem to get the underpowered ones making that aspect of the game almost worthless also. I’d love to have driven the bulldozer around or the car with the pedestrian zapping ray built in.
I’ve also noticed that the game is cheating heavily with the opponents. As soon as they get a small distance away from you on the map, it’s clearly not tracking what they are doing in any meaningful way, they aren’t taking out pedestrians, they can go through walls, etc.. They literally warp around the map – it doesn’t matter if they were upside down with no possible escape last time you saw them. I’ve needed a basic understanding of these quirks to make it through the later levels.
All of this is kind of understandable but there was definitely improvement to be made in Carmageddon 2. This game has been huge though, no way I’m going on to the sequel right now. It’s easily been the most time I’ve put into any DGC game to finish it. Despite that I’ve not gotten bored. The new levels, powerups and opponents just keep on coming. I do notice that most of the levels are effectively variants of each other – a new course on the same map. The maps are so huge I’ve been fine with this. I can see why Carmageddon got all the praise it did at the time – it’s almost a classic and still loads of fun but going back to it now I expect even its own sequel made this first game somewhat obsolete. Still not tried the new Carmageddon that got released within the last few years, might have to give that a go some time.
rnlfKeymasterPodcasterSeptember 24, 2021 at 9:46 pm #5098
Okay, here’s my verdict: It’s okay fun for a while, but nothing to keep me occupied for more than a couple hours.
Not sure how to get new cars (got one in about 20 races I did, that one was crap, so no idea). Opponents get stuck (they can’t recover, apparently) but once you drive away from them, the game seems to lose track of them, as Pix already mentioned, but it’s actually good, because otherwise sometimes opponents would be stuck underwater or something so you couldn’t possible wreck them.
Driving is painful in the game. Cars are either super slidey or don’t turn at all. Ever tried driving with the side of your car stuck to a wall and trying to steer away from it? Not possible, because (presumably), the back of the car would push against the wall, which the physics engine seems to prohibit. The only solution is to drive backward and turn away from the wall, very annoying.
Hitting opponents with this sliding car is super difficult and it’s not really clear to me, how hard or often you need to hit them to take them out either.
So the game doesn’t work as a racing game (racing is 100% optional anyway, as AI never seems to go through checkpoints) or as a fighting game because it’s so hard to hit, which is very sad (also, doesn’t AI repair? Why can I hit them more often then they can hit me).
On top of that, races are just more of the same over and over again, there’s hardly any progression except new parts becoming available or the occasional car you get. Worked my way through 60 ranks or so without anything new happening.
That said, the game has a lot of style. The entire psychopaths driving a death race is pretty well done and I’m a big fan of the whole way “Die Anna” and “Max Damage” are designed.
The graphics are pretty cool. Not top notch for the time, but some nice detail in there, like stickers on the tires and turning wheels, cool car designs.
The music is exactly my cup of tea, very fitting, too.
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