The classic gory car series is back, though it doesn't feel quite as edgy anymore. You'll find the typical juvenile humour the series is known for, such as the 'four skins' pack you get for pre-ordering, and a hidden 'smelly bush' to find in every level. And who could forget running over innocent people and animals? It’s the type of humour and violent content that stopped shocking us since Grand Theft Auto blew up back in the PS2 era.
Instead being a straight racing game, Carmageddon Max Damage lets you play it however you want. Racing killing all the other opponents, or just driving around aimlessly… the choice is yours. The only problem with that is that without defined goals, I wasn't sure what exactly the game wanted me to do. I drove around for ages, running over any living creature in my path. I suppose it is a similar setup to the open-world Tony Hawk games, in that each level will have things to do and hidden stuff to find. All the same, more defined goals certainly wouldn't hurt, as I felt like I was aimlessly driving in circles. The driving isn't all that thrilling either, as the controls are rather clunky. That seems to be a staple of the series, though, maybe it’s on purpose.
Like many of the games I previewed at E3 this year, Carmageddon had frame rate problems, which is surprising considering I played the PS4 version of the game. I have little faith that these will be stabilized by the time the game releases in just a couple of weeks on July 8. Not only that, but there doesn't seem to be a valid excuse for these issues as the graphics are bland, looking like something from early last generation, so that makes the frame rate all that more perplexing.
I get that the developers are going for shock value, but it all just comes across as tacky, tasteless and dull at this point. The car I was given to drive had blades down the middle which could be used to rip NPCs in half. This carnage wasn’t just limited to humans, either, as I also hit a bear, an alien, and lots of dogs. While slicing a bear in half with a car isn't something I can say I've done in any other game, I couldn't find much joy in doing it. At this point, we are all so desensitized to video game violence that it just isn't shocking or surprising.
Carmageddon used to be one of the most controversial video game series out there. But in 2016, it just doesn't feel like the franchise has evolved enough to keep up with other violent video games of its time. The latest installments of Mortal Kombat and Doom are gorier than ever, and yet, Carmageddon is doing the same things it has done since the '90s, only looking marginally better with the same old tired gameplay.