Ready Steady Splat: Carmageddon Leaves Early Access

I have a soft spot for Carmageddon and I fear that the Kickstarted Reincarnation [official site] is going to steamroll over that soft spot and turn it into a gloopy red mess at the side of the road. After a prolonged stint as an Early Access title, Stainless Games’ rebooted Deathracer launched yesterday. I’ve only played briefly – although I spent a few hours with earlier versions – and while I’m not hindered by the performance issues that continue to affect many, Reincarnation hasn’t reignited my love for the series. Maybe my tastes have changed since my teenage years and maybe Carmageddon hasn’t changed enough.

It really does play an awful lot like Carmageddon II, which was the best in the series and the last decent entry before development responsibilities passed to Torus Games for the disappointing Carmageddon TDR 2000. My main memories of that one focus on the incoherent future-city map designs and seemingly invincible police response vehicles that bullied me into crannies and kept me trapped there for ages.

Carmageddon II was legitimately great though, right? I remember hunting down a patch to turn the green gore red long before the official Blood Pack was available. This was in 1998 when the internet was made of string and piles of AOL CDs. I was committed.

Of course, what seemed like a proper good mature bit of game back then seems like the most immature bag of nonsense now, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be fun. I like plenty of daft gory things and Reincarnation is certainly a daft gory thing. It’s also a pitch perfect remake/reboot. Perhaps too perfect because playing it feels like taking a road trip back to the nineties. Clearly, it’s a more attractive game than its predecessor, which is almost twenty years old, but I certainly remember Carmageddon II looking better than this. The widely reported performance issues – which made the game almost unplayable for me when it first arrived on Early Access – don’t seem to be the stuttering of computers pushed to their limits by incredibly detailed, enormous worlds.

The physics are floaty, as Carmageddon physics have always been, and the game is at its best when the racing and killing come together. Treating the maps as open environments in which to hunt every pedestrian and secret was occasionally diverting in the old games but the rare moments when all of the AI cars were sticking to the track rather than meandering about were glorious. Nudging an opponent offroad and watching as he spiralled into a chasm, guts hanging from his bonnet. Good times. That might happen once or twice in the new game as well.

All of this is to say that Carmageddon Reincarnation is now available and that it may be too faithful to its predecessors. I might take a closer look next week.

23 Comments

  1. RaoulDuke says:

    It is very similiar, but I think thats good in this case, they plan to do sequels, so they should save the game-changing ideas for those games, rather than make some new concept, totally unlike Carma 1/2. Draw in the old fans with, basically a shiny new version of Carpocalypse Now and then use the revenue from that.

    The optimization does seem quite bad, even at release [3700k@4.2Ghz, 970SC@1329Mhz + 16GB RAM and I get 40-60fps@ max settings+1080p on big maps, but 50-60fps on the same settings on the smaller levels/arenas] but i’m sure they’ll tweak it as time goes by, its certainly playable, but driving games, especially open world, silly-physics + super speed flying through the air REALLY benefits from a solid 60fps, even more so than an FPS, in this case.

    ALTHOUGH, they did add collectibles + plenty of new power-ups, which of course makes it feel a lot fresher than you are making out. The game is a very simple formula, so adding new power-ups actually adds many new “ways to play”. The pedestrian dismemberment is improved as well, ped splitting!!! Take that cow, you udder fool.

  2. jgthespy says:

    I kind of regretted kickstarting this after playing the early access version but I’m actually having a lot of fun with the finished game. It’s still pretty rough but Carmageddon has always been pretty rough. I love all of the new powerups and they make for a very fun demolition derby game. The checkpoint and pedestrian dash levels are fun too. The only thing that’s annoying so far is the death race levels. Racing is not and has never been fun in these games. Luckily, you don’t have to play them if you don’t want to.

    • Silverchain says:

      Same here, I wasn’t that impressed while it was in EA but I’ve just tried the release version and had good fun.

  3. Zallgrin says:

    Oh, my sweet sweet childhood… I sure missed this game. Does Carmageddon still have a map with a rollercoaster track that allows you to make a full loop if you drive fast enough?

  4. satan says:

    This is ridiculous.

    It’s only May and already I’m so swamped with amazing new games that I’m having to put off buying Carmageddon.

  5. elevown says:

    Some bits of the trailer are in reverse right? Its hard to tell – i mean cars can drive backwards – but it looks like some bits would only be possible if they were playing backwards.

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      Backwards, you say? link to youtube.com

    • LaurieCheers says:

      Are you referring to the shot at 1:22? It seems to be playing forward to me, just a couple of cars driving in reverse gear. Some of the weird physics you see in the trailer comes from power-ups. Maybe that’s what’s confusing you?

  6. Siresly says:

    I’ve only played briefly – although I spent a few hours with earlier versions – and while I’m not hindered by the performance issues that continue to affect many, Reincarnation hasn’t reignited my love for the series. Maybe my tastes have changed since my teenage years and maybe Carmageddon hasn’t changed enough.

    Yup.
    It’s weird being presented with a new version of this thing you really liked back in the day, and your reaction is just kind of…”Yup. This is certainly Carmageddon.” Only played it for like 15 minutes. It doesn’t seem bad. It’s basically exactly what I remember Carmageddon 2 looking and feeling like. I’m sure there’s physics garbage and other stupidity you can make happen and have fun with.

    Plopped in my old 570 as I wait for my burned up 780 to get replaced, but still, a game looking like this should not be freeze-stuttering the way this does on occasion. Believe I had everything off or low but AA, 1080p.

  7. XhomeB says:

    My impressions: it’s captures the spirit of Carmageddon perfectly, but my oh my WHY DOES IT RUN SO TERRIBLY WHILE LOOKING BEYOND DATED AND UGLY.
    Inexcusable.

    • XhomeB says:

      “it captures”. Where’s the edit button? *shakes fist*

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      Rublore says:

      Keep in mind it’s a small team with what is certainly not the world’s largest budget. Making everything look absolutely amazing and still run well… that takes more cash than they have, I’m willing to bet. Now, if they could just get it running well for all the people currently reporting problems…

  8. airmikee says:

    “but I certainly remember Carmageddon II looking better than this.”

    The problem rests entirely within your memory then. Youtube has plenty of evidence if you need to remember what Carmageddon II actually looked like without the memory fog tricking you.

    • klops says:

      You could read that quoted sentence again and check which word from that sentence was originally written with “CTRL + i”?

    • Skeletor68 says:

      I read that as the memory frog

  9. melnificent says:

    It’s slightly better performance wise. But some levels can finish a fresh mug of tea before it loads. Add in the variable framerate and it’s a real surprise that it’s left early access.

    Still, it is carmageddon and I’ve been enjoying it despite the technical issues.

  10. PancakeWizard says:

    I backed this and can”t wait to try it, but I promised myself I’d wait for at least one post-release patch for KS games.

  11. Spacewalk says:

    I’m glad to hear that it hasn’t changed enough because all I ever wanted was a re-upholstered Carmageddon. Just as long as it doesn’t have those terrible missions from Carmageddon II that I had to cheat to get past because I couldn’t stand them.

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      Rublore says:

      The lead designer of Carma II (and Reincarnation) has since apologised for the missions. They aren’t in this one.

  12. Michael Fogg says:

    From what I’ve seen from some videos this is all driving in circles around artistically uninspired maps, with the ‘peds’ ambling lethargically about, without any sense of speed and forward momentum. Doesn’t look promising.

  13. jodtee says:

    How awesome it would be to combine such a game with the destruction engine oft red faction…

  14. Slazia says:

    Quite enjoying this. Would like to get some multiplayer together with RANDOM CARS! Makes things far more interesting as people take it less seriously if they can’t choose.