|If Roger Corman had asked George A. Romero how to make a more
poltically correct Death Race 2000 the result would be Carmageddon. All of the gore
without any of the guilt. In the future the undead rule the surface and humans live in the
Earth's orbit. Only a few thrill seekers are brave enough to visit the Earth's surface and
race the zombie infested streets. Carmageddon is a race game where the race is the least
important part of the game. This game is the equivalent of a Sunday drive for homicidal
maniacs; the destination is less important than the journey and the maiming done along the
way. The tracks are designed to be won in one of three ways: be first to complete all the
laps, destroy the other drivers, or run over all of the zombies. None of the other drivers
are all that concerned with the race; they exist only to ram into you.
If your goal is to just get through the game, it is easy enough to complete the tracks, but the game developers are hoping you'll savor the experience of flattening zombies or crashing into your opponents. The problem is that the levels are so big and the zombies are so numerous that the quest to squash them all too soon becomes tedious. If you're partial to ramming into your opponents it can be difficult to find them if they are in faster vehicles than you. If you are partial to destroying your opponents you can collect power ups for your car like bombs, or oil slicks, but they're difficult to aim at your opponents.
There are a few elements of the game that are particularly frustrating; for instance, there is a compass in the top left of your screen to guide you to checkpoints along the track. The compass ends up getting obscured a lot by buildings on the city tracks. This can be really annoying if you just want to get through the game. I wasn't too fond of the vehicle controls either. It is hard to make subtle turns, especially when trying to ram into opponents. It also would have been nice to see a link mode with this.
Where the game really shines is in the choice of vehicles and in the size of the racing environments. There are over 15 vehicles to choose from; everything from a police car to an industrial plow. The heavier the vehicle the more hits it can take, but the slower it'll go. Personal favorite: combine harvester with its wide front end. Each individual track is quite large, and there are over 30 tracks on this game. They have managed to pack a lot of game into such a small package. There are a few nice flourishes in the game like the zombies who get caught on your bumper and end up being dragged a couple of blocks.
If the controls were a little smoother and the compass wasn't so easily obscured this could easily be a four star game. The vehicle options, the size of the tracks, and a plethora of zombies are enough for at least a casual recommendation. So, if you're suffering form a guilt complex for trying to run over those pedestrians in Crazy Taxi, Carmageddon might be the game for you. There's no guilt in running over jaywalkers when they are trying to eat your brain.