Carmageddon: Max Damage (PlayStation 4) Review

By Josh Di Falco 05.12.2016

Review for Carmageddon: Max Damage on PlayStation 4

The Carmageddon series is notorious for its early roots, with the controversial arcade car racer debuting on the PC, inspired by the equally as violent film Death Race. After spawning two more sequels, with the releases expanding to home consoles, the series was dormant for eleven years, until the original developer Stainless Steel, picked up the rights to release a new game. After an original release on the PC, Carmageddon: Max Damage is back on consoles. This arcade racing game is full of pure vehicular carnage as cars race to the finish line, while splattering pedestrians onto their windshield in their high octane fuelled war machines.

Like the original games, each of the races is set in an open world area, loaded with iconic monuments and stadiums, while pedestrians roam the streets. Classic Carma mode has three different ways to win a race: either by being the first car to complete the laps by following checkpoints, killing all the pedestrians on the map, or by destroying all the opposition cars. The mode is fun and extremely satisfying, as pedestrians are ruthlessly slaughtered while cars are hell bent on destroying each other.

The maps are littered with power ups that cause all sorts of anarchy that have a humorous effect on pedestrians and the like. Certain power ups directly affect the driven car, by either giving an advantage such as temporary invincibility, or a disadvantage, like the car bouncing off the road like a basketball with no way to stop except to crash. The main issue with the way the power ups are handled is that there is no way of knowing what each one does before it is activated, leaving it up to trial and error. However, each one is enjoyable to play around with and as such; it is not such a big deal to discover how the race will be influenced by the next power up.

Screenshot for Carmageddon: Max Damage on PlayStation 4

Cash is earned by passing through checkpoints and running over pedestrians, which is then used to repair the car while the race is in progress. The repair-on-the-fly is a fun way to fix the car without having to cause a stoppage or a reset, and allows for the continuous playthrough without disrupting momentum. Or if the controlled car has flipped on its hood, a button prompt can cause it to rock from side to side in order to right itself again; or just to get the car back on the track. While each action costs money, the game has no qualms in sending the digital finances into the negatives in order to let the race flow.

While there is a campaign mode that unlocks additional tracks and cars, it is really just a continuous set of car races without any real means behind the carnage being displayed on screen. However, this is completely fine, as a story of sorts does not need to be present at all in this game. The issue arises though, with the different characters and their respective cars. With great work put in to try to individualise each character and what makes them, is not followed up with a basic form of introduction to each character for new players. Even the starting characters such as Max Damage and Die Anna have an iconic look to them that looks like something out of a Mad Max story, but the lack of any sort of introduction to them as a character removes the connection that could have been had between the player and the characters.

Screenshot for Carmageddon: Max Damage on PlayStation 4

The cars themselves look awesome, with a lot of creativity inspiring some outlandish designs. The best part about this is that each car can be modified at will, with weapons varying from spikes, blades and flamethrowers, to pincers at the front of the car and electro rays and a hood-mounted buzz saw. These characteristics help to individualise each car and their racer, and provide a lot of humorous deaths and kills as well.

The animation design is impressive, with the collision detection providing a respectable amount of crashes and bumps. While it tries to be an arcade driver, sometimes the cars can fly off the racetrack at the slightest clip of a car or an obstacle or even a pothole in the road. This causes plenty of infuriating moments of fighting the controls to try to get the car back in control. On top of this, the roads seem to be layered in ice, as sliding is prominent at nearly every single turn. Considering the entire game is built around driving a car, most of the experience is spent fighting with the controls to get the car to perform as expected from an arcade racing title.

Screenshot for Carmageddon: Max Damage on PlayStation 4

There does not seem to be any way to lose the races either. With an on-screen countdown clock that goes up with each checkpoint that is passed, an expired time is the only real threat to the race. Considering that destroying all the opponents' cars results in completing the mission, they can constantly total the controlled car, which will just result in a "respawn" on the track again, with no real loss to the player. While that's nothing new for the franchise, and is probably expected from long-time fans of the series who just wish to race around the maps without having to worry about failing with every explosion, this still impacts on the overall adrenaline rush that is normally associated with having to fight for their life.

The load times between each stage is also highly unacceptable for a game of this calibre, considering that the graphics are not as high scaled as other games. Nor should the map and pedestrians even require that much time to load up poorly rendered environments that are hard on the eyes. There are noticeable glitches that cause the screen to freeze, and they seemingly happen to occur when the screen is cluttered with multiple cars in the midst of a crash, while pedestrians seem to fade in and out of the setting at will, while they sometimes freeze in a pose upon being hit. Some roads also contained a graphical road, with no physical solid for the car to drive on, causing the car to fall through the "dead" section into the blue world below thus causing a restart.

Screenshot for Carmageddon: Max Damage on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

5/10
Rated 5 out of 10

Average

The main attraction to Carmageddon: Max Damage is the variety in running over pedestrians while also ramming into opponents' cars. While there are five more game modes that are just different variations of the formula, the graphical limitations hold the game back from what it could've been. Carmageddon: Max Damage is a perfect throwback to fans of the series wishing to take another nostalgic hit, but there is nothing here to draw newcomers into the franchise. It feels more like a glorified side story of a larger Grand Theft Auto title, which makes it difficult to justify a purchase, coupled with the roughness of the gameplay and the animations.

Developer

Stainless Games

Publisher

Stainless Games

Genre

Driving

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  5/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

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