PS4 Review: Carmageddon: Max Damage

Carma, carma, carma-chameleon!

I briefly played the original Carmageddon back in 2000, but it was the highly censored version where pedestrians were replaced as zombies and somehow had the brains to jump away from your oncoming car, although running them over was still fun…I would have loved to play the uncensored version but never got the chance…until now.
Carmageddon: Max Damage is the latest title in the series from original developer Stainless Studios, who re-acquired the rights to the franchise and after a successful Kickstarter campaign released the game. It began life on PC as Carmageddon: Reincarnation before the Max Damage version for PS4 and Xbox One. After a long hiatus, does the series still have what it takes to shock and please gamers?

There are a good number of modes and a decent size career mode to be found, while the classic mode races can be completed by either killing a set number of pedestrians, taking out all the opponents vehicles or simply win the race. Everything you do adds time onto the countdown clock, so running down all the peds shouldn’t be too challenging, just time consuming.

Death Race is your standard race where you must come first, but if you are car is wrecked then you will lose the laps you’ve done, but the opposite is also true so you can steal them or take them back. Ped Chase is a race to run over a specific pedestrian, rinse and repeat. Checkpoint Stampede is a rush to random checkpoints on the course, which can be brutal as opponents will do anything to stop you from reaching it first.
Fox ‘n’ Hounds is basically a game of Cat and Mouse, where you will either have to avoid all other drivers chasing you or catch the car that is eluding you all. Finally, Car Crusher is the mode where you will try and take out as many rivals as possible. All in all, there’s a nice combination of modes to be found.

Steering is tricky, although vehicles with improved handling can be unlocked through the course of the game. Each type of event will require a specific type of car if you want to succeed, so it’s deciding what car will do what you need it to. You can repair your vehicle with a few taps of the Triangle button, while Square will reset you to a safe location. There are power-ups to collect that you can use against opponents or peds if you feel like it, these can vary from weapons to getting peds to throw themselves at you for a limited time.

Visually, Max Damage isn’t the greatest looking game out there. It’s got that classic Arcade look to it, but doesn’t seem to have evolved much from that. There’s a nice variety of racing environments including Bleak City, Frosty Pass, MagNuChem, Dusty Trails and Devils Canyon, each with their own unique look and feel. It would have been nice to have more, but the ones here are pretty big in terms of scale.

The Verdict

Carmageddon: Max Damage is a nice revival of a controversial, yet enjoyable series. It’s crude and just plain nuts most of the time. It’s never going to win Racer of the Year, but it’s enjoyable in short bursts. It may look dated in comparison to today’s racers, but there’s no other game like Carmageddon and there’s unlikely to be any others either. Definitely one for the fans and I’m sure newcomers will like it if they go in with low expectations.

Score: 7.0