Carmageddon: Max Damage hasn’t been an easy game to review. Not in the slightest. On one hand, I really do enjoy the mindless killing of fat hookers, cripples, nuns, dogs, and all the rest, but on the other hand, the game runs like turd and just isn’t that enjoyable for more than a few minutes at a time.
Let’s start with the positives: the gameplay is pretty funny for the most part, and the lengthy single-player offering is more than you’d get from most full-priced AAA releases. However, a AAA release this is not. No, Carmageddon: Max Damage is a certified B release, and the B stands for ‘budget.’
There’s a wealth of locations to drive around in, and each one offers a handful of various events. Pretty standard, then, though the ability to mow down the aforementioned members of society does give it a bit of spice. To progress through the game you need to collect points. To collect points you need to kill, race, kill some more, and then, if you feel like it, race some more. Oh, and kill. Don’t forget the killing.
Driving through the first location wasn’t the best first impression the game could have presented to me: the city was a bland, lifeless hell hole devoid of all life and colour. A bleak town that just needed to be painted red with blood. Lovely. Thankfully some of the locations in the latter stages of the game looked pretty nice, though nothing stood out as being particularly memorable.
One of the first things I noticed was just how not-next-gen the game looked. We’ve been spoiled with glamourous releases since the PS4 came out but Carmageddon: Max Damage doesn’t aim to please the eye. The graphics are, in a word, poor. It looks like a game that would have been considered ‘alright’ back in the middle of the PS3’s era, but those days are long gone and we should expect something a little higher quality.
Environments look flat and uninspired, while pedestrians are about as basic as the developers could get away with before people scream “stick men?!! WTF!” At least the vehicles don’t look half bad, and considering the damage they take that gets rendered as it happens, they could look a lot worse, but it’s still not up to scratch, really. For a franchise that was once dripping in controversy due to it’s at the time realistic portrayal of vehicular violence, it’s a bit of a let-down that the modern version actually looks quite tame when compared to some of the other stuff out on the market.
Unfortunately it’s not just the graphics that are a let down in the technical department; the frame-rate is piss poor and fluctuates every few seconds. Cars don’t ever feel like they’re in your complete control and the frame-rate flying around really doesn’t help matters. Trying to pull off anything more complex than driving in a straight line often sees your vehicle careening out of control, spinning around with limbs, heads, and wheelchairs flying in the air. OK, that sounds better than it is, but when you’re in the middle of a race, it’s not an ideal situation.
Ah, actually, it doesn’t really matter because the A.I of the opposing drivers is particularly terrible. Some events give you the choice to either go for the checkpoints, annihilate the other drivers, or kill a target number of civilians, while other events demand that you stick to the route provided and just race. It’s during these sections of the game that the A.I just flat-out gives up and just goes off on its own adventure. Out of the 10 or so races that I’ve played through (multiple times, may I add) I was never in any real danger of being beaten. I could lose control of the car, smash into a street light, burn up in flames, and still be a lap ahead of the competition due to said competition being on a roof. No, I’m not even joking. And yes, it was mildly amusing.
Despite the technical shortcomings and the poor car controls that feel like they’re being thrown across ice, Carmageddon: Max Damage does at least manage to entertain, even if that entertainment is punctuated by frustration and awful load times; you can be sat staring at the loading screen for almost two minutes in some cases.
. It’s a game filled with humour – most of it very, very crude – and little in-jokes that fans of the franchise will appreciate. There’s some fun to be had once you get a hang on the dodgy controls, but for some that may prove more frustrating than it’s really worth.
Carmageddon: Max Damage Review - PS4
Carmageddon: Max Damage has the bare essentials in play to be a decent game but is hampered by the poor execution. It's a lenghty game that'll provide more than a few bangs for your buck, but you may find yourself banging your own head in eventually.
Maybe a few updates in the future could smooth over the underlying problems, but as it stands it's on-par with Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 5 - a B game that had its day and has had its good name dragged through the mud.
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