Carmageddon II: Carpocalypse Now
We covered this in lascivious detail last issue, and to be honest not much has changed since then. But hey, we're still just as excited. Cars being bent and broken in half, glass panels shattering left right and centre, and, best of all, pedestrians getting their limbs ripped clean off. It's not all gore, gore, gore, mind. We're also promised sturdier multiplayer options (including a bizarre-sounding 'vampire mode'), improved opponent AI, and a slew of brand new cars hogging the virtual forecourt. If the programmers have their way, you'll even get to mow down elephants and baby seals this time round. The whole shocking shebang promises to be an orgy of vehicular carnage for all the family, in other words (assuming each member of said family is aged 18 or over). Controversy is assured, and you can bet your glans Carmageddon II will be grist for the tabloid mill when it pokes its head over the parapet in time for Christmas. We can't wait.
Ever played Colin McRae Rally on the PlayStation? It's a superb, serious racing game with one hilarious feature: Colin McRae himself. He's well known in international rallying circles, but to the average player he means nothing, save the fact they named a game after him. Why Codemasters felt compelled to lay out cold, hard cash in exchange for the patronage of a complete unknown is anyone's guess: they could've called it Charles Dickens Rally instead and not had to pay anybody. Anyway, the point is this: McRae himself is a permanent fixture on the game's soundtrack. He Cplays' the role of the co-driver, muttering things like sharp right and straight ahead in a gruff Scots accent, with all the engaging charm of an RS232 interface lead. Despite this, for some reason he grows on you. And it would've been great to have him providing in-game commentary for Carmageddon II.
Accelerate... Sharp left... Plough through that window... Turn right... You've just killed a man... Over the ramp... Aim at the oncoming vehicle... Reverse into the screaming woman...
Mirror, Signal, Manoeuvre
Carmageddon 2 is completely, completely horrible. If real life were as horrible as this, the Samaritans would be out distributing razor blades and sleeping pills. It's far more horrible than the first Carmageddon, and since that's widely regarded as the single most horrible computer game of all time, this is quite an achievement. In fact, it's far more horrible than the word Chorrible' could ever imply, even if you scrawled it in blood on the wall of a torture chamber, then underlined it by nailing a row of severed fingers carefully into place beneath the dripping text.
But it's also horrible in a nice way, in that it's hilariously funny. Every five minutes, Carmageddon II will do something to make you and your friends guffaw like Hollywood villains - guaranteed. It's the direct gaming equivalent of played-for-laughs horror flicks like Bad Taste, Brain Dead and, most obviously, Death Race 2000. Abattoir slapstick is the order of the day. The on-screen action is so relentless in its breathtaking tastelessness that you can't help getting swept along.
For all its sanguine violence, Carmageddon irs raison d'etre is really quite touchingly simple: it just wants to make you laugh. That's all. The beauty of it is that the Cjokes' aren't scripted, they occur naturally around you during play. More on this later.
If for some mad reason you've never played the original Carmageddon, permit us to explain. It's a racing game that actively encourages you to do all the entertaining, time-wasting stuff you've always tried doing in all the other, sober racing games. Ever tried driving off the track?
In Carmageddon you spend more time off the track than on it. Fancied a head-on collision with the other cars? Head-on collisions are Carmageddorfs meat and drink. Wanted to veer off course and run over one of the spectators? Prepare for overkill.
The game consists of a series of all-out races around a set of wildly varied environments, encompassing everything from ski slopes to nuclear missile bases. There are three ways to win: a) the dullard's way (race through all the checkpoints before time runs out, a la Ridge Racer); b) the vandal's way (destroy the other cars by ramming them to bits); and c) the methodical serial killer's way (run over every single pedestrian in town). Ah, yes. Pedestrians.
In Carma numero uno, pedestrians were represented by flat, animated sprites. For the sequel, they've made the leap into three dimensions, just like Quake marines. "So what? you may snort. Well, it actually makes a huge difference to the gameplay. In the original game, the hapless peds were mere window dressing as far as the physics engine was concerned. They might spin around in the air, or fall from the occasional skyscraper, but that was about it. Now, the same set of mathematical routines that decides where the cars end up after each collision can get to work on the people. Hit a ped at speed and they go flying. If they plough into another ped en route, they'll go flying too. Should one of them strike a wall as they hurtle through the air, it might be enough to knock their leg off. Or perhaps their head. And should their head come off, it might bounce around for a bit and then come to rest on the pavement, at which point another ped might even trip over it. It's all thanks to the laws of physics - the expert simulation of which make Carmageddon II what it is. The world created here may be insanely brutal, but it's also logical. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Every collision is absolutely spot on. Every single second of motion is utterly convincing and utterly lifelike. And having created an environment in which the laws of physics are recreated in nigh-on perfect detail, all the programmers need do is give you a whole bunch of fun stuff to play with.
You can see how most of the gaming elements got there: somebody thought "What if...?"
See that big hill over there? Well, what if we put some huge boulders on top of it so you can nudge them off with your car and they roll down the slope, squashing people and crushing the other cars?
What if we put in a power-up that makes the pedestrians float around as if they're filled with helium, so that when it runs out they rain down like overfilled bags of offal?"
What if we have a bit where you plough into a herd of elephants and...?
An Airbag Saved My Life
There isn't room to list all the ways in which Carma II improves on the original. The way the cars buckle, bend and slowly fall apart - sometimes even shear in half - is incredible. The levels are an immense improvement: more ambitious, packed with more features, designed with greater clarity and attractive palettes. There are missions. There are animals. There are hundreds more objects to crash into and plough through.
There's a small indicator at the bottom of the screen telling you the status of your nearest opponent - how damaged their car is, and what they're currently Cdoing' (illustrative examples being racing to checkpoint, "vowing to kill you and shitting himself). The replay camera is even better than ever: you can track the progress of any object, re-position the camera at will, even save your finest moments as movie files then upload them to the Internet.
You can smash through windows, crash through walls. There's a level that starts on an airport runway just as an immense jumbo jet is coming into land overhead...
Carma 2 does for Carmageddon what Doom did for Wolfenstein 3D; takes the concept and fine-tunes it, producing a game that is a ghoulish dream come true for fans of the original... and a kick in the cock for the critics.
We might like Carmageddon II, but the BBFC might not
We reviewed the full-on, no-holds-barred, raw, screaming, bloody-stumps-an'-all version of Carmageddon II. At the time of writing, however, it's still unclear whether this incarnation of the game will ever legally see the light of day in the UK. Publishers SCi are, unsurprisingly, anticipating a few problems with the BBFC - the film classification body which initially placed a halt on the gory version of the original Carmageddon.
The problem, it seems, is that the pedestrians are Cinnocent people'. Except of course, they're not. They're only graphics in a computer game.
Anyway, depending on which way things go, you'll be playing either Cred' Carma II or Cgreen' Carma II, Cgreen' being the version in which the pedestrians are replaced with shambling undead zombies (with green blood). It doesn't affect the gameplay (or the score) in the slightest, it's more of a Cmood' thing than anything else. Here at ZONE we don't mind the zombies too much; the game still retains its nihilistic, grisly appeal. But we do prefer the peds, which is why we hope the BBFC will pass it - with an 18 certificate.
And if they don't? Well, rest assured - someone's bound to post a patch on the Internet that transforms the zombies back into humans (we reckon some enterprising soul will do it within 24 hours of the game going on sale). You may not want it however as the feel of the zombie version lends the game a menacing air, with the zombies acting like zombies, and not like regular peds that gush green on impact.
Living in the future - it's a laugh, innit?
- It's a vast improvement on the first game. I like the new pedestrians and the way they act. I was about to run over a fat guy but he jumped off the road and plummeted into the water, where I saw him swimming for his life. Ace! I also like the power-ups - they're funnier than the ones in the original. It's too hard to kill people with the door though, I just like to use the repulsificator and stuff like that. Try this: slowly hit a ped till he gets on your roof, then use all your Kangaroo power-ups at once. Very cool.
- At first glance it just looks like a slightly souped-up version of the first Carmageddon, but after you play it for a few minutes you realise it's got incredible depth and there's so much more you can do. The peds are so versatile. I like the groovin' peds, but my favourites are the helium-filled peds - knocking one down and watching them fly through space really made me laugh out loud. As for the cars, it's the repulsifier that I really enjoy. I managed to throw the truck up vertically when I had it against a wail, and managed to get it about 60 feet up in the air. So, a great improvement to the graphics engine but, more importantly, a lot of thought gone into the game and the content itself. Unlike Carmageddon, this gets better and better the more you play it. I've played this demo for almost as long as I played Carma I (okay, slight exaggeration) and I'm still discovering new things to do. I just can't wait to get my hands on the full version.
- I'm not sure what to make of it, really. I played it for quite a while and have gone back to it a few times, but it's not as good as I expected it to be. For a start, even with the new graphics engine Carmageddon 2 looks too similar to the other one, and there are other games which look much better. It's certainly gorier than the first one. One example is shooting down the road at 160 mph, driving past a dog and opening the doors and knocking the poor dog's head off. The new power-ups are pretty good, and the cars look better, but there aren't a whole lot of new features. And the Cpre-release' demo ran pretty slow on my P233. Hopefully the final game will be a bit better. But Carmageddon got boring after a few weeks because it got too samey, and I can see Carmageddon 2 going the same way.
- I played the Carmageddon II demo and I was less than impressed with it. It wasn't the content of the game that shocked me, it was the actual game itself. I mean, come on, what the hell are SCI doing to the public and higher governing bodies. It's these sorts of games that are gaining so much unprecedented bad press. SCI should take a real good look at this trash. Let's see now... Graphics: naff. And I mean raffl Speed: what speed? Driving Miss Daisy would be a better-suited title. Sounds: it sounded like they sampled some poor sod trying to hold back filling his pants after eating a bad curry. I'm not impressed. Gameplay: I have to admit, I found great pleasure in decapitating zombies. But isn't there some sort of race to win? What of the other contestants? I tended to see them once and that was it. I was left to rip zombies to shreds with a conked-out vehicle because I couldn't control it enough to miss the lampposts. At least I had a laugh when I finally got bored and headed full-pelt into the wall, only to see my car burst into flames. Shame on you all, SCI. If you're going to do a game that is almost certain to gain much hated abuse from governments and concerned parents, then let's make it a good game; one which is almost worth the bad press it's almost certain to attract. Gameplay is there, but it all looks so awful when compared to other 3Dfx and D3D delights of today. Visuals shouldn't really matter, but for a game that is so heavily based on ultra-violence it would be nice to actually see what you are destroying. Instead I got a whole load of crap graphics with awful sounds and no real idea as to what my real goal is, unless you count zombie-killing for points.''
By the time your piggy eyes peer at these words, Carmageddon II: Carpocalypse Now should be available in the shops - but only in its toned-down form. Unless, that is, the squabble developing between publishers SCi and the British Board of Film Classification has escalated into a full-scale war.
The trouble began several months ago, when SCi sent a four-minute demo version of the game for the board's approval. Weeks passed, during which SCi assumed members of the board were assessing the game's content, stroking their chins and pulling slightly concerned faces at the horror of it all.
In fact, that wasn't what was happening at all: instead, the BBFC hadn't been able to run the demo - because they didn't have a 3D accelerator card in their machine. To add to the confusion, the board neglected to inform SCi of the technical hitch - instead, the situation came to light during a telephone conversation between James Ferman, the BBFC's ex-head mekon, and Roger Bennett, from the games industry body ELSPA, several weeks after the demo was submitted.
Having sorted out their hardware problems, the board then announced it was calling in a group of psychologists to evaluate the game's potential for transforming people into crazed, nihilistic serial killers. This was the final straw for SCi, who did the metaphorical equivalent of turning a pub table over and threatening someone with a broken pint glass by announcing their intention to take the BBFC to court over the delays.
"This repeat performance of last year's delaying tactics can only be a result of severe 'sour grapes' at the BBFC for losing the appeal last year," scowled SCi's Jane Cavanagh, referring to the eventual overturning of the "ban" on the blood-drenched version of the original Carmageddon. The BBFC, meanwhile, refused to be drawn on the issue.
The spat lit the fuse for a media debate on gaming violence. As ever, most commentators made the common mistake of assuming computer games are played exclusively by dribbling, knock-kneed schoolboys, neglecting to notice the real obscenity at the heart of Carpocalypse Now. the woerui neavy metal act Iron Maiden are now included on the soundtrack. Several tracks from the tumultuous rockers' ouevre will now hit your ears like a shower of shit each time you play.
"If any computer game shares our philosophy on life, without a doubt this is the one," burbled the Maiden's lead clown, Blaze Bayley, nonsensically.
The sequel to last year's game of the year Is better in every way thanks to a new game engine and more focused gameplay. Although racing is in many ways the last thing on the agenda, few driving games can boast such an immediate sense of fun, coupled with unrivalled accessibility and visual splendour.
As in the original, the cars buckle, bend and fall apart with unrivalled attention to detail, except that this time it looks and feels even better. When you first play Carmageddon you spend at least a couple of hours just smashing up the cars and laughing - it's that sort of game. There are loads of different machines to choose from, each with their own strengths and weaknesses, plus some rather cool 'comedy' cars. Unfortunately, the cars don't handle as well as one would hope. The original game suffered from similar symptoms, and it still feels very much as though the turning circle of each car just isn't tight enough. That said, there are so many cars to choose from that you're bound to find one you like.
This time around, the tracks are better constructed and on the whole well-conceived. Unlike before, they're grouped together, and as well as winning each race by completing the set number of laps the quickest, killing all the peds or destroying all the other vehicles, there are some excellent and highly imaginative 'special' stages that you must complete before you progress to the next level. The addition of a map and directional pointers helps immeasurably, and overall the tweaks that developers Stainless have added make it even more playable than before.
Multiplayer Carmageddonms fun for a limited time, but ultimately proved frustrating because the tracks were just too big, making it difficult for players to find each other. Multiplayer Carma II is much better thanks to the addition of smaller, dedicated multiplayer levels, which are ideal for both one-on-one duels and multiplayer smash 'em ups.
Originality And Fun Factor
In many ways, Carmageddon 2 is like a breath of fresh air for racing game fans. The main thrust may not be on racing, but it does focus on how well you control your car in various, often ludicrous situations over varied and challenging terrain, and that makes a nice change. It looks great, it's immense fun to play, and although racing purists may find it a tad too OTT, few will be able to resist its laugh-out-loud charm.
What we thought
"Carmageadon II is completely, completely horrible. If real life were as horrible as this, the Samaritans would be out distributing razor blades and sleeping pills."
What you think
- "I agree with most of the things in your review - great courses, superb peds and fantastic power-ups - but SCi have not improved upon all of the basic errors of the first game which have made it so frustrating. The worst thing is the camera angle, which Is utter shite. Reverse and the camera spins around; crawl forward and then the camera only moves part of the way back. In network play the opponent can drive off the other way while the camera is arsing around pointing the wrong way. In addition to this, the frequency with which the car ends up on its roof is uncanny, and the way the car gets stuck on stupid edges is unforgivable."
- "Having snapped up a copy straight away, I can only say that Carmageddon 2 is nothing short of phenomenal. The intro sets the scene instantly, and the pumping soundtrack is perfectly suited to the game (thanks to Iron Maiden). "Starting the game itself and playing for only a few minutes, you can tell it improves on its predecessor in almost every respect. The inclusion of missions (though they were very frustrating) between the massive levels is testimony to the game's true depth. One example Is the way I pushed the overturned dragster is front of a speeding train, and watched with delight as it buckled and split when one half collided with an oncoming tunnel! "Like the original, I cannot stop playing It - it's just too addictive. The selection of cars is excellent, and some of the power-ups are hilarious. And the physics of the world are spot on - ploughing through shoppers slows and jolts the car as the corpses clog up the wheels and smash the windscreen. The handling of the cars is quite sluggish but very realistic. "Stainless can only be praised for creating such a believable world. The graphics themselves are pretty impressive, though a bit simplistic in places, despite having just purchased a 3D card with the game to play it in all its glory. Another graphical problem is that I find the green blood a little off-putting. The idea of tearing up warm, pink flesh would enhance the grisly pleasure derived no end, but I suppose this cannot be helped."
Most of Carmageddon His fairly straightforward, really - learn the tracks and kill an inordinate number of innocent civilians. However, it's not all foot to the floor and blood streaks on the door. The missions can cause problems, and it's mainly those stages we're concentrating on here. So belt up and get a grip.
Mission By Mission Walkthrough
The first three races before the mission act as a warm-up. The other cars are lightweight, and pedestrians and animals are abundant. Explore, get used to the car, and remember: the more peds dead, the more time you get. Try to visit the bank - crashing into the vault rewards you with some top-quality gear. If you fancy practicing some high-speed manoeuvres, slip on to Beaver City's ample orbital.
Rocky Too is a sprawling level with masses of tricks to try. Extra Power enables you to push massive rocks on to other cars, and the Wall Climber makes your tyres stick to any surface - ceilings and all. It won't take long to reach the Boulder Dash mission, and when you do, just take it easy. Tumbling over edges doesn't help time-wise, so just get round those bends. Try to aim for under a minute per lap. Oh, and you get no extra time for killing on missions, so don't bother.
At first it seems that the antennae are impossible to reach. That's utter rubbish. Pick the Eagle Mk III (that's if you've accumulated enough credits to have a choice) and just follow the ramps - generally speaking they point in the right direction. Most jumps require a take-off speed of around 80mph. Hit the right rhythm, and bounce from one rooftop to the next like a rubber ball.
This mission teaches you a very important skill: the ability to control your jumping so you can land in very enclosed areas. As the game progresses, you find that of all the skills, this is by far the most important.
The Home Sweet Groan race takes place in Max's junkyard. In the middle of the stage is his home, and it's around here that you find plenty of contraptions with which to deliver swift death to your adversaries. Have fun, see who can be lured into Max's lair, and then nail 'em!
The race in the quarry can be precarious, as it's sometimes hard to find peds, and the other contestants bash you around quite badly. Try to make the most of the ample time bonuses, and power-ups lurking behind or on crates and boxes. Usually they're not too far from the actual circuit, so taking a small diversion is often worth your while. On the mission stage, loonies from a local mental home are on the loose. There are 22 patients in all, and you have to squish all of them. It's probably best to go for the larger groups first, and then pick up the stragglers later. We've marked their exact locations on the map, so it shouldn't be too much of a problem. As for those irritating nutters on the roof, just bounce up to them with Kangaroo Dower-uos or somethino similar.
There are quite a few handy power-ups near the start to help you on this mission, but by far the best antidote to this little predicament is the Solid Granite Car. It should be lurking just outside the glass-fronted building near the start point.
When you've got it, head straight for the truck which should by now be charging directly for you at high speed. Go for the head-on collision and you should seriously hurt him. He'll probably head off into the junkyard after that, so follow him, grab as many useful power-ups as you can, and keep twatting the life out of him. It's advisable to go for a vehicle other than the Eagle Mk III for all this, because the heavier the car, the more damage you inflict on your opponent. As long as you keep up a fairly relentless assault, the time limit shouldn't be a problem.
The In Cold Blood mission is a toughie. The snow makes you slide all over the place, the track is hard to see, and most of the race takes place on the side of a mountain, meaning that you spend most of the race at a 90-degree angle. Well, you're halfway through the game now, so what do you expect? The best advice, as for most of the missions, is to just take it easy. Keep your speed at around a hundred miles an hour - travel any faster and you're a dead man.
Always keep a beady eye on your mini-map, making sure you never stray too far from the circuit, and avoid getting any big air. When it comes to the ski jump, try and hit the ramp at about 50mph - the car should stay level, thus averting any nasty Eddie The Eagle-type landings. Stay out of the way of the many quarter pipes too, as they can really slow you down.
The real trick to this stage is finding the shortcuts. The many hairpin turns give you ample opportunity, and if you look carefully you can see narrow passageways and crevices that your car can easily slip into.
In terms of vehicles to use, go for something small and manoeuvrable, or maybe one of the large-wheeled machines on offer - at least then you can obtain some grip on the slippery surface.
The Runway Runaway race can be full of surprises, especially if you head into the airport terminal. If you drive up the stairs there are some duty free shops, and on the roofs of those there are some power and armour bonuses. This group of races concludes with an excellent - and easy - mission.
First of all, select a fast, agile car (something like the Eagle, perhaps?), and simply belt around the fairground at top speed killing everything in sight. A lot of the clowns can only be reached through well-timed jumps. For example: the two on top of the tower in the middle of the fairground can be decapitated if you hit the take-off ramp at the right speed (around 100 mph).
Watch out though, because some of the clowns don't die at the first attempt. They may be fat, but they're often quite nimble, and sometimes glance off a bumper attempting to escape. Make sure you go back and finish them off, and only leave the scene of an 'accident' after dismemberment has taken place.
There are only four air traffic controllers to kill on the Control Freak mission, but look where they are - right at the top of the tower. It takes some practice, but it seems the only real way to reach these well-guarded enemies is to use the airport 'props' as ramps to jump up to the tower. If you're very lucky you can smash straight through the glass.
However, another method is to find a Slaughter Mortar and fire into the control tower to kill them. Alternatively, grab one of those tail things and see if you can smash the windows with that. Of all the levels, this one seems to be down to luck rather than judgement but, as always, if you improvise you can't really fail. The time limit is the real enemy here, so don't hang about when you first start.
Solid Granite Car power-ups are strewn all over the USS Lewinsky. Use these to make short work of the gun turrets; any left over can be demolished by picking up the mutant tail thingy near the start. When the turrets on the top deck have been destroyed, head below deck as quickly as possible. There are more turrets here - wipe these out using the same technique. The core of the ship can be dispatched in the same way. When you've done all that, head up to the top deck and kill the admiral.
You need a medium-sized, tough car because you're often caught up in explosions. Anything small and defenceless is going to be annihilated in these situations, so make the right choice.
This is the first time you face opponents on a mission stage and they don't mess about. Their vehicles are massive and they know how to use them. Being rammed into one of the many cliff faces is a common occurrence here, so make sure you keep moving constantly. You can combat their tactics by selecting a fairly large car yourself. The only trouble is that you have to decide how much speed you're willing to sacrifice, as the time limit here is again tight.
To destroy the oil wells, slowly drive into the nearby black boxes. The wells can be levelled in any order, but it's probably best to go for the ones in wide open areas first; wait until the field has thinned out a bit before heading off into the frantic zones.
The second race is superb. In true Blues Brothers spirit, choose a fast car and set about confusing the feds. Try to get two or three to chase you around, then pick up a Kangaroo power-up (or something of the that ilk), go flat out towards a brick wall and jump at the last moment. Any police chasing you crash into the wall and die. This hectic city stage is bursting with similar cunning tricks, so don't be afraid to let your despicable mind run riot.
After the fun comes the horror - the final stage. This is probably the only really linear level in the entire game, and to be frank it's a bit of a shock to find. Prepare for this stage by picking the fastest car available. After that the key to this stage is opening the blast doors. Basically, any canisters you see knocking around must be destroyed - blowing them up opens various blast doors around the silo. The first few are obvious, they encircle some kind of dome. But after that they're not so easy to find, especially with the cruel time limit imposed. But follow the route, destroy everything you see and it all becomes apparent. All you need is speed and a good memory-master that combination and you complete the game. Well done. All you have to do now is wait for Carmageddon III.
Download Carmageddon II: Carpocalypse Now
Systems: Windows 9x, Windows 2000 Windows XP, Vista, Win 7, Win 8, Win 10.
Game features:Single game mode
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