Carmageddon: Reincarnation – Review
Thanks to the advent of Kickstarter it seems that games franchise long thought dead and buried are returning from their graves at an ever increasing rate. One such title was Carmageddon. Many a moon ago this racing/destruction game caused quite the stir due to the game’s over the top pedestrian crushing shenanigans. Luckily underneath the blood and guts was a super fun game that did away with a lot of traditional racing tropes and put mayhem at the forefront. The game was followed by 2 sequels, the 2nd of which was handed over to a new developer and as a result was completely terrible. Many thought that Carmageddon was relegated to the video grave yard due to this but all hope was not lost. Stainless Steel, the original developers managed to get the rights back to the name Carmageddon and thanks to the magic of crowdfunding the once king of video game controversy has returned in all of its gory glory.
For those that have never sampled Carmageddon’s brand of chaos the game is a racing game in only the loosest sense. Each event can be completed in one of three ways. The first is perhaps the simplest, race through the checkpoints and finish the event. The second is the most fun as it requires players to crash the other five cars in the event. Take all the opponents down and the event is completed. The final and most difficult task is to kill all of the pedestrians on the course. When most courses have about 500 people, cows, cats and dogs running around it is easy to see why it this route is not the easy one. All of this sounds simple but it is made more challenging by the timer countdown. If the timer hits zero it is game over. To get more time players must crash their opponents, perform crazy feats, drive over pick-ups or kill pedestrians. This causes the game to become a balancing act of chasing goals and ensuring there is enough time left to do so.
Reincarnation introduces some new race modes but these are simply side dishes to the classic Camageddon model. Perhaps the best thing about Reincarnation is the controls. Driving around in the game gives the feeling of teetering on the edge of control. Players constantly feel like they are just about to lose their grip on the road yet somehow they are still able to race through the course. It is this unique feeling that makes Carmageddon’s crazy modes work, something that a more traditional racing model wouldn’t allow. This borderline chaos is especially evident in the simple, yet robust, multiplayer mode. When 6 humans are burning around the track, trying to take each other out it is a beautiful medley of madness. Throw in a few of the wackier powerups found around the maps (Pinball mode anyone?) and things quickly revert into pure madness.
Perhaps Carmageddon: Reincarnation’s biggest problem is that it is almost exactly the same game players experienced all those years ago. Sure it looks much better and the addition of online multiplayer is certainly welcome but essentially it is the same thing many of us spent hours doing on our PCs way back when. Reincarnation is riding the nostalgia train for all it is worth and unfortunately this leaves it as something of a short burst game. Smashing through the 9 available maps is without doubt a load of fun but it is the sort of fun that might grow tiring in longer sessions.
The game also feels about two patches short of a full release. After a lengthy alpha and beta for kickstarter backers the game is now released as version 1.0 but it still certainly feels like there is a little bit more work to do. The graphics engine does get a little glitchy at times and it feels poorly optimised. Even when played on a machine that can handle The Witcher 3 and Crysis 3 without blinking there were instances of slowdown and framerate stutters unless the graphics options were turned down. The game is decent looking but certainly not pretty enough to cause those sort of problems. Hopefully it all gets fixed in a future update.
So is Carmageddon: Reincarnation worth a purchase? Well that depends largely on your views on the original game. If you didn’t like Carmageddon when it was first released then there is nothing here that is likely to change that opinion. However if you were a fan of its particular brand of carnage then there is an abundance to like with Reincarnation. Despite the fact it is best played in shot sessions there is quite a lot to like about what the developers have done here. Carmageddon is the gaming equivalent to your favourite naughty takeaway dish, full of empty calories and probably not great for you but on the right day it is oh so tasty.