On Friday, the most notorious racing title makes its return to the gaming world. Developed by Stainless Gaming, Carmageddon took the community by storm in 1997 when it released its gruesome but strangely entertaining vehicular combat saga inspired by 1975’s Death Race 2000.
In it, players had to completely obliterate their opponents, run over pedestrians and occasionally race against one another to the finish line … if they didn’t kill each other first.
Now, some 16 years after Carmageddon TDR 2000, the team is back with a new edition, Carmageddon: Max Damage, set to be released on July 8. Let’s take a look at the editions that got this franchise started off in the first place:
1997 – Carmageddon
Developed by Stainless Games and published by SCi (Now Square Enix) and Interplay (responsible for Fallout and MDK), the first edition of Carmageddon was released to PC on the DOS system and was eventually ported to Windows, Macintosh, Playstation and the Game Boy Colour. Due to its bloody and gruesome imagery, made possible by the revolutionary Argonaut BRender physics engine, the game was permanently banned in Germany and Brazil, while the UK forced the developers to swap human pedestrians out with zombies and robots to make it appear more humane. Countries in which it met the requirements awarded it with a mature content rating for ages 18 and up.
Carmageddon wasn’t revolutionary in terms of vehicular combat gaming as Death Rally, Interstate ’76 and Vigilante 8 had all appeared around the same time and were arguably better. Despite having a decent rendering engine, the graphics and playability of Carmageddon were shockingly bad but the media provided it with favourable reviews because of its new and controversial persona. Sadly, the ports to other consoles were not executed in good fashion and in this respect, the game failed. Other than that, Carmageddon managed to sell two million copies, which was something to be proud of in 1997.
1998 – Carmageddon II: Carpocalypse Now
Building on the success of its last game, Stainless Games joined forces with SCi once again to hit the market with an even bigger and messier Carmageddon. This was Carpocalypse Now and it boasted more maps, freedom, cars and, of course, gore. On top of it all, they even got Iron Maiden to compose the soundtrack as it was the perfect genre to play for a vehicular combat game.
The game was filled with Easter eggs and references to pop culture as it made use of a character based on Sylvester Stallone (the star of Death Race 2000), a cop car seen in The Blues Brothers and even some competitive racing cars that were on the track at the time. Stainless MD, Patrick Buckland, was driving a purple TVR Cerbera at the time, which is what inspired him to include it in the game without the manufacturer’s permission. Despite the automaker not being happy about this, it was left in anyway, with a slap on the wrist serving as punishment. Much like the previous game, it was well received by critics.
2000 – Carmageddon TDR 2000
Total Destruction Racing. This was the game that many believed killed the franchise, largely because Stainless Games was not involved in its development as SCi thought it would be a better idea to give Torus Games a shot (famous at the time for licensed ventures such as Jurassic Park and Hello Kitty). It was criticised because of its lack of innovation and, ironically, due to the decision to play it safe. The game looked and felt mediocre and the gameplay itself was said to be boring and frustrating. Iron Maiden was also nowhere to be seen. This failure saw Carmageddon TDR 2000 achieve poor sales and inevitably put a nail in the coffin for any future titles.
2014 – Carmageddon Reincarnation
In 2011, Stainless Games had come up with the money to buy the Carmageddon licence back from Square Enix, but not enough was left to actually develop the game, which is why they were forced to launch a crowd-funding campaign on Kickstarter. It was a huge success at it was able to raise around $625 000, a significantly higher number than the required $400 000 which was reached in just 10 days.
Carmageddon Reincarnation was somewhat of a concept to allow fans to get a taste of what was to come. And due to its incomplete nature it was not well received. The updated version of this game now features some software fixes developed from user feedback and debugging which, ultimately, made a massive difference to the reception.
Reincarnation will become redundant once Max Damage is released as it is essentially the final product for the Xbox One and PS4. If you wish to run through the previous titles you can purchase a digital copy from GOG.
Preorders for Max Damage are available on the Xbox and PSN stores.