Sunday, February 5, 2012

Carmageddon Carpocalypse Now

Carmageddon 2
Carmageddon 2: Carpocalypse Now
by Interplay Productions
Platform:   Mac
4.8 out of 5 stars(6)

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The original Carmageddon was banned in Brazil for inspiring road rage. Well, if you're the sort to play a game and apply those skills you've just cultivated to your real-life routine, then not only should you not come anywhere near Carmageddon II, but you should probably just be locked up somewhere safe. However, if you're not adverse to a little lowbrow humor and a lot of violence and mayhem, you'll find plenty of action and still more fun in the visually refined sequel.

You'll need to be at least a little mean-spirited to truly appreciate them, but Carmageddon II's graphics look good by any standards. The three dozen-odd cars are meticulously detailed and wildly creative: You get to drive and destroy everything from a tricked-out '70s low-rider sporting front-mounted jackhammers, to a muscle car crossed with a World War II prop plane, to a dragster, to a dune buggy, and much more. They're not real cars, but they look real enough, especially when you smash them (or into them) and they crumple and crack in all the right places. Then again, the cars in Carmageddon always did look good, although the same couldn't be said for their targets, the lowly pedestrians who were mere 2D sprites in the first game and didn't look right against the 3D cars. But now the pedestrians, comprising a cornucopia of humans and wildlife, join their hunters in the third dimension, which unlocks a world of gory, new opportunities for the player. They'll come apart at the seams, go flying through the air, burst into blood and guts, and worse as you careen into them in every which way, earning money for each and every kill. Were it not for the rather plain-looking tracks and a frame rate that can falter even on high-end systems, Carmageddon II would look entirely excellent.

Of course it's tasteless. But if the country can embrace a foul-mouthed and foul-mannered prime-time cartoon show, then it's ready for Carmageddon II. Besides, it's a funny game. You'll pick up dozens of different power-ups that affect the innocent bystanders in absurdly hilarious ways: They'll explode when hit, pop and fly away, dance in place, stumble like drunks, have huge heads, turn huge altogether, turn tiny, turn fat, turn tall, turn skinny, turn completely immortal - you name it. And the carnage is set to the perfectly appropriate music of the quintessential heavy metal band Iron Maiden, as well as a few guitar-heavy instrumental pieces that, while they aren't Maiden, aren't bad. Unfortunately, the other sound effects in the game are only fair, as pedestrian screams and steel wrenching against steel all start to get repetitive fast.

In any event, you'll probably be too wrapped up in the game to be bothered. Like the first game, you don't need to follow too many rules. You can race around the track past a series of checkpoints through several laps and end a race, but you'll often find it easier (and a lot more fun) to total all the enemy cars vying to do the same. Either objective is made both challenging and enjoyable thanks to the wacky hyperrealistic physics model behind the game that has cars careening through the air and against buildings and one another at the slightest invitation. You'll find yourself in all sorts of incredible and ridiculous wrecks, often with those hapless pedestrians at the center. Thankfully, you can magically repair or recover your car at the touch of a button, and for a price. And because the collisions rarely force you into a frustrating situation, and the physics model is so open-ended, and there are so many silly power-ups, Carmageddon II ends up being entertaining for a long time.

That's not to say it never gets annoying; because of the linear race progression, you'll sometimes get stuck on a timed mission objective that you'll have to replay until you get it right. But the game isn't all that difficult, and a little perseverance should get you past any roadblocks, metaphorical or not. What you're left with, then, is a game that isn't serious at all but instead offers a fun and colorful, albeit predominantly red, environment to drive across, through, or over. Carmageddon II isn't the most ambitious game you'll ever play, but chances are it'll be one of the more enjoyable games you've tried lately.--Greg Kasavin
--Copyright ©1998 GameSpot Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of GameSpot is prohibited.

The original Carmageddon was a hit with both Mac and PC gamers. Interplay's sequel, Carmageddon 2: Carpocalypse Now, offers improved gameplay with extended playing time, more open arenas, and better car upgrades, but doesn't change the original drive-by hit-and-run formula.

Carmageddon 2 is about one thing: smashing stuff up. You may be smashing people, cars, dogs, or buildings, but it all boils down to smashing. To provide structure to the game, the developer requires the player to attempt to complete a race circuit before time runs out. But it doesn't really matter if you do this or not, because you can pick up lots of time extensions, and the best way to win is to smash other players' cars to pieces.

You pick up cash for repairs, upgrades, and new vehicles by reaching checkpoints on the circuit and by slaughtering pedestrians. A simple hit-and-run move gives you $200, but do a little flashy driving such as a sideswipe, clipping pedestrians with a door, or pile-driving them into a building, and you can easily rack up $700 or $800 for the kill (sharpen your driving skills and you'll get more bucks per bang). The characters aren't even re-motely realistic, but the few polygons that seem real dismember quite nicely.

Although politically incorrect and mindlessly violent, Carmageddon 2 is a fun game that people will enjoy playing - remember, it's just a game. Built-in acceleration hardware suffices, but for a better visual experience, a Rage 128 or 3dfx card is mandatory. -- Rick Sanchez

Good News: Supports Rage II, Rage Pro, Rage 128, and 3dfx chip sets. Multiplayer mode supports up to eight players. There's no other game like it on the Mac.

Bad News: Poor control. Low frame rates. Multiplayer mode is limited to LANs.

©1999 MacAddict

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