Carmaggedon: Max Damage reviewPrice:
PC (free if you own Carmaggedon: Reincarnation), Xbox One, PS4
A bold statement, but a true one: Carmageddon: Max Damage is the worst game I've played this year.
Let me explain. It's been a long time since I've played a game as utterly pointless as Carmageddon: Max Damage. It’s a 'racing' game only because you're nominally in control of poorly handling cars. Carmageddon: Max Damage feels like a hangover to an age of gaming that has long been left behind, and this game is a strong advocate for leaving the past exactly where it is.
Carmageddon: Max Damage looks and feels like a dinosaur, and the most obvious indicator of its lack of quality is its ridiculous sense of 'humour'. Lots of fans of the 'classic' series will step forwards and say that it's part of the culture of the series, that it's only there to make fans happy. The thing is, what might have felt edgy in 1997 just feels dated and puerile now - not that I'm sure most of these jokes would ever have been considered funny. This is a game that asks you to derive humour from running over screaming pedestrians in wheelchairs, or from the words 'up the arse' being smeared across your screen after you hit the back of another car.
After finishing and filing this review, I found a set of tokens that seem to spell out different slang terms for a vagina, a challenge entitled 'Taking the Clunge'. This one was 'Ham Kebab'. I put my head in my hands.
I'm not so politically correct that I can't enjoy a bit of black humour. It's just that this comes across less like Frankie Boyle being a bit over the top and more like Nigel Farage after one too many lunchtime pints, desperately telling tired jokes from 20 years ago in the hope of bullying you into a single smirk.
'It's just the tone
', I whispered to myself, trying to enjoy the actual meat and potatoes of the game. It's a driving game, the focus on smashing into things and wild power-ups seems like it could fit perfectly - there's a lot of space in the racing market right now for a game that isn't taking itself too seriously. Sadly, it’s unbearably obvious that Carmageddon: Max Damage isn't the game to fill it. You need two things to make an arcade driving game: cars that handle well, and AI that's challenging. Sadly, I've had trouble keeping cars in Carmageddon: Max Damage heading in a straight direction. The cars have an authority problem, you see; whenever you try to tell them what to do, they'll spin out of control and careen into the nearest bunch of pedestrians. Luckily, the AI is completely incompetent, often driving in circles as they head with no real purpose other than crashing into you or each other.
There's a mix of different game types on offer, a mix of objective and race-based modes. It's when you're racing that Carmageddon: Max Damage is at its worst. The objective based modes can occasionally even be fun. As the AI circles slowly towards the objective, if you can't keep your car on track then you can catch up on your points by wrecking the enemy cars.