A one-of-a-kind franchise
Stainless Games is once again pushing the boundaries with its latest installment of their classical vehicular combat franchise Carmageddon. The first Carmageddon game was released in the late 90s and was known for its open-world environments, crude and offensive humour, and over-the-top violence. With the release of Carmageddon: Max Damage on the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, this latest installment explodes onto your screen with power-up fuelled destruction and brutal battles with rival drivers in full HD.
As Max Damage, a homicidal driver of the Eagle R, you will go head-to-head in some of the most frantic race events that adds up to endless hours of violent and hilarious fun. Carmageddon: Max Damage takes the franchise to a completely new level with a massive single-player campaign, a wide assortment of vehicles, entertaining power-ups that deal out punishment to your opponents, and various different game modes. Get ready to rev your engine and blast off from the start line as you cause maximum vehicular carnage across free-roaming environments in Carmageddon: Max Damage.
Platform: Xbox One, PlayStation 4
Release Date: July 8, 2016
Developer: Stainless Games
Publisher: U & I Entertainment, LLC
Genre: Vehicular combat
Modes: Single-player, multiplayer
ESRB Rating: M (Mature 17+)
Rise through the Carmageddon ranks
When you first start Carmageddon: Max Damage’s career mode, you’ll initially only have the choice of choosing from two different drivers/cars to cause mayhem and maximum destruction. The first driver you can choose from is Max Damage, driver of the Eagle R designed for rammin’ and slammin’, he is the only driver to appear in every Carmageddon game. Next up is Die Anna, driver of the fast, but no so tough bright yellow, mid-engine supercar called the Hawk R. Initially, it does not really matter which driver/car you choose, as your first event is essentially a tutorial that will get you familiar with controls and driving mechanics of the game.
The majority of Carmageddon: Max Damage’s events thoughout its 16-tier career mode require you to complete a specific goal in order to advance. These goals to advance can range from completing a certain number of laps around a track to mowing down a specific number of designated pedestrian bystanders to wrecking your opponent’s vehicles.
Upgrading your vehicle during this mode is essential to remain competitive, and requires you to collect upgrade tokens that are placed throughout the many different events. Additionally, you can increase the number of vehicles available in your garage by wrecking whichever one the game highlights as stealworthy in any given event. While obtaining these vehicles is fairly easy, sometimes you will have to sacrifice winning an event in order to expand your garage.
Nevertheless, it is in Carmageddon: Max Damage’s Classic Carma events where I had some of the most fun with the game. The Classic Carma event, contained in every tier of the career mode, allows you to choose how you want to play and complete the event. Although you do start with a time limit to complete the event, it is easily extendible by collecting time extending items, and taking down a variety of pedestrians. I enjoyed the freedom to run rampant, do whatever I wanted to in the game’s open environments, and search every nook and cranny. Some of the local shops you’ll stumble upon such as Saggie Maggies will have you chuckling and shaking your head.
Vehicular destruction with more carnage than ever before
Carmageddon: Max Damage is all about destruction, annihilating your opponents and your surrounding environment. The controls are never overly complex but at times controlling your vehicle requires you to oversteer to compensate for the loose controls. Additionally, I did find it difficult to maneuver around some of the game’s indoor environments, which can be a source of frustration especially when chasing randomly placed checkpoints.
As you traverse the game’s open environments and engage in combat with your opponents, your car will inevitably incur damage, which as a result will severely affect the way it controls. Luckily, you can repair your car on the fly by using credits that you obtain and earn throughout the game. Just by holding a button, you’ll have dents buffed out and parts that have been smashed off flying through the air to reattach themselves.
Here is a little hint, by mowing down pedestrians as you are repairing your car, you’ll earn valuable bonus points. Something else to note, your AI opponents can detect that your car is damaged, and will be more aggressive towards you trying to put you out of commission. Carmageddon: Max Damage features an impressive amount of power-ups that are available to use. Power-ups range from shooting anvils to operating a vacuum that sucks up pedestrians to giant springs that send your enemies flying in the air. While I didn’t really find any of these power-ups to be truly innovative or impressive, with over 90 power-ups there is enough variety that makes using them enjoyable.
At times, the in game camera in Carmageddon: Max Damage can be frustrating. For example, when you try to back up your car, the camera will jerk around and never give you a clear view of what is behind you. Fortunately, you don’t have to backup that often so it’s not much of an issue.
Real-time vehicle damage accompanied with a varied soundtrack
In blunt terms, Carmageddon: Max Damage’s graphics leave a bit to be desired. Although, compared to previous games on the PC, PlayStation, Nintendo 64, and Game Boy Colour, Carmageddon: Max Damage is visually superior. The game runs at 1080p on the PlayStation 4, 900p on the Xbox One, and at 30fps on both consoles making it the best-looking game yet in the franchise.
I was quite impressed with Carmageddon: Max Damage’s real time vehicle damage—take a hit from the side and your car will deform. If you are in a big enough collision, watch as the wheels fly off and the front of your car compresses upon impact.
Additionally, I really enjoyed Carmageddon: Max Damage’s soundtrack. It features a variety of different genres mixed together that really gets the juices flowing when mowing down your enemies. Combined with the zany sound effects and puns by the minute, Carmageddon: Max Damage offers a unique soundtrack that I was pleasantly surprised by.
Multiplayer motoring mayhem
With Carmageddon: Max Damage you can take the carnage online with up to five online opponents in four online event types. My first event that I participated in was Death Race; the objective was to be the first to complete all the laps around the course. The twist with Death Race is that by wrecking your opponents you can steal laps from them. This unique twist made for some very enjoyable matches that saw my opponents lose the lead several times.
The next online mode that I participated in was called Checkpoint Stampede. Here you must beat your opponents to checkpoints to win the game. While it was fun at first, this mode quickly lost its appeal for me and became repetitive. Next up was my favourite event, Car Crusher, the premise is simple; destroy your opponents to win points while avoiding damage to your vehicle. Finally, my second favourite online event type—Fox ‘n’ Hounds. In this mode, the “fox” must evade the “hounds” until the timer runs out. It was fun working together with other online players hunting down the “fox” as they tried to evade our attacks.
Freeplay and replay modes
Carmageddon: Max Damage features a Freeplay mode that allows you to play with no rules, no limits, and is pure fun. Unlocked by completing levels in Career mode, you can use this mode to test out and experiment with the many different power-ups, and hone your skills for combat. The best part about this mode is that you can down this all on your own time with no worry of a time limit.
Additionally, you can relive your best Carmageddon: Max Damage gameplay moments with the games built in action replay mode. Here you use multiple different cameras, replay options, and your consoles built in DVR to create highlight reels to share online.
It’s clear to see that Carmageddon: Max Damage is an evolution in the franchise with its open environments, vast amount of power-ups, and an impressive amount of vehicles to unlock and choose from. While the first few hours of gameplay may seem tedious and repetitive, as you unlock more vehicles and gain the use of more power-ups, the experience gets better. The controls can be finicky at times, making it hard to perform precise movements needed to mow down pedestrians or pickup power-ups. However, for the most part Carmageddon: Max Damage’s positives outweigh the negatives.
If you are a fan of the Carmageddon franchise then you are going to love what Carmageddon: Max Damage has to offer. On the other hand, if you are new to the franchise and are looking for a decent game with pure vehicular carnage and hours of fun, then give Carmageddon: Max Damage a try.
+ Wide Selection of vehicles to unlock and play as
+ Fun to play
+ Lengthy career mode
+ Entertaining adult humour
– Long loading times between levels
– Controls can be finicky
– Uninspiring visuals
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 3.5/5
Overall Rating 3.5/5 (70%)