Long before the likes of Grand Theft Auto 3 allowed players to cause chaos in open world urban settings, Carmageddon was riding through the most dangerous streets in gaming. Well, they were dangerous for the pedestrians, anyway.
Taking its cues from Death Race 2000, Carmageddon sat you behind the wheels of a series of ridiculous death machines, hell bent on destroying other racers and hapless citizens alike. There is no real story to play through, instead each ‘race’ takes part in various future hellhole settings, all of which are open to exploration, allowing you to take the carnage wherever you like
Every stage can be completed in one of three ways- complete a set amount of laps of the main track, destroy all of your opponents, or the super tough option of killing all of the pedestrians in the level. Killing all the people running around is really difficult, time consuming and frustrating. This is not only due to the fact that there are thousands of them in each stage, but because it is entirely possible for all the other racers to destroy each other long before you manage to wipe the level clean.
Reaching all the checkpoints is fairly easy, although the ridiculous nature of some of the tracks can cause frustration, so the best way to play is to go toe to toe with the enemy racers. The quickest way to destroy them is to simply ram them into submission, which can be tricky when there are five of you in a tight area. It is all too easy to get completely stuck on scenery and wrecked cars, thus requiring a recovery at the cost of 1000 credits. It can be incredibly frustrating, particularly on the higher difficulty settings.
On many stages you get the chance to steal an enemy car and add it to your collection. Now, I must warn you that some of these cars are utterly pointless, such as the waste of time that is the drag racer, which raises its front wheels every time you touch the accelerator, meaning you can’t turn at all, and shoots of at silly speeds. Still, it is fun to unlock all the cars, and gives you a reason to get through the levels, aside from the need to upgrade your car. Incidentally, all the upgrades you get are for all the cars, so feel free to upgrade without fear of wasting cash.
You get cash for ramming enemy cars, running people over, destroying barrels and performing ‘cunning stunts’. Ahem. Yes, there is a lot of swearing in the game, although it does seem to be cut back from the original, and when you combine this with the blood and guts of splattering people and passing cows, this really is not a game for kids, although the violence has definitely lost its ability to shock, as the pixelly 2D pedestrians really look like the blocky sprites they are.
The other thing that may put you off the game is the handling. Now, it has been much improved from the original, but there is a big learning curve. My advice is to keep the speed down unless you are ramming someone, don’t accelerate and turn at the same time, and steer clear of obstacles at all costs. Choosing a car that has decent handling is also paramount, but once you do get the hang of the somewhat awkward controls, you will be knocking other cars off cliffs, riding around on thin walkways and generally causing a lot of chaos.
The exploration and carnage elements of the game are really fun, and finding the right spots for silly stunts is a blast. Actually playing through the many missions is quite a frustrating chore, but once you have unlocked everything, then you are free to just have fun with Carmageddon.
The camera is still annoying, particularly for reversing, the steering is questionable and the violence and swearing may be off-putting for some. However, Carmageddon is one of the most fun games you can buy for iPhone. It always has been rough around the edges, but that is kind of the point- Carmageddon is pure, unadulterated carnage, and makes a fine mess on the pristine, principled iOS.