bill-swift - March 5, 2014
Ah, Carmageddon. This unique little slice of outrage came at us all puns blazing (the sequel was rather brilliantly subtitled Carpocalypse Now) in 1997, and was discussed in hushed tones in schoolyards everywhere. If mom saw our youthful selves playing it, she may have shat herself, but prepubescent rebels had no effs to give about that.
This was many players' first introduction to the scourge that is ‘video game violence,' alongside the similarly blood-leaky Doom and such. But while the latter needed all its goretastic, what with the shooting-demons-in-the-gonads focus and all, what the hell happened here?
Carmageddon is a racing/vehicle combat title from Stainless Games. There is racing to be done, if you're so inclined, but it's more Grand Theft Auto than Mario Kart. Remember crushing those Elvis impersonators ‘neath your mighty wheels in GTA 2, and the ‘Elvis has left the building' message that would result? It was just channeling Carmageddon's spirit.
Yes indeed. It's all about the pedestrian-hunting, right here. As our omniscient overlord Wikipedia puts it, these rubber-buring contests are "...completed by either completing the course as one would a normal racing game, "wasting" (wrecking) all other race cars, or killing all pedestrians on the level." Needless to say, the first option is the loser option. Racing? In a racing game? Who the hell has time for that? Our ma didn't raise her no sissies. Be a man, and crush some bones.
So, anywho, you play as Max Damage or Die Anna or whichever of this gaggle of puntastic freaks takes your fancy. Your objective is to ascend through the ranks by winning in each stage, against a track full of CPU racers. Causing as much stomach-churning carnage as you can in the process, naturally. There's an ever-present time limit, and you can refuel the clock a little by mangling pedestrians on the asphalt or assaulting your fellow drivers.
Censored editions of the game provide a tenuous reason for doing so: these are not innocent bystanders. Hell no. These are SHAMBLING, GROIN-BITEY ZOMBIES. We're heroically saving the remnants of mankind from them, you see. In the year 2028, solar flares have contaminated the atmosphere, and converted much of the population into the undead. Because... that's a thing.
It was just some BS to explain the presence of these festering fiends. They were shoehorned in because their green blood was far less traumatic for Little Jimmy to witness. Then there were other versions featuring robots which ‘bled' oil when struck, but we won't go into that because it sucks. Still, in its 'real' form, Carmageddon is still among the most controversial games ever made. Which is enough to give it a kind of eternal allure.
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