[quote]To those of you about to die…
…we salute you![/quote]
The summer of 1997 was a largely a lonely one – it’s not easy when you’re as socially inept as I was back then. Between the odd bit of sunshine and occasional human contact, my time was consumed by the by-product of a strange bunch of chaps from the Isle of Wight with a Death Race fetish.
In retrospect, technically the game wasn’t up to much – yes, the race tracks were completely open, but the games protracted development cycle and DOS heritage meant it knew next to nothing of what passed for 3D acceleration at the time (not that I had such a ‘thing’ either), the cars handled like understeering drunken pigs, the blunt humour was terribad (even in the eyes of a 14-year old) and, when looked back on, it was horribly horrible repetitive.
What’s worse, I actually consciously made the decision to buy (ok, get my dad to buy) this over Theme Hospital!
But, all things considered, behind those drawn blue curtains, I was the one guiding low-poly, questionably-rendered automobiles towards poorly animated sprites representing grown men, scantily-clad women and old ladies with Zimmer frames (who were, of course, in the war).
Although, being British, I had to run down zombies. Thank you BBFC.
Jump forwards 15 years, the zombies are gone (granted, they were taken out a year after the original release courtesy of the add-on ‘Splat Pack’, thank you BBFC), a spanking new Carmageddon has been kick-started and I’m writing words here about a version of the same game running on a tiny slab of silicon, glass and stainless steel about 20 times more powerful and 100 times smaller than my crate of a PC circa 1997.
If you’ve played the original Carmageddon before (note – original, as in original PC release, not the sequels or console offshoots) then you’ve (literally) seen everything – drive an increasing menagerie of death machines around completely open race-tracks either (ideally) wasting all your opponents, hitting all the checkpoints (if you must) or killing all the pedestrians (largely impossible) whilst avoiding the auspicious eyes of the nations police in their armoured boxes of frustration.
The menus have been tidied up somewhat, with clearer hints about which cars can be stolen at your current rank, although the touch screen means there’s no disembodied hand mouse-cursor.
Once the racing begins, the touch-screen controls are configurable and responsive enough, but only in so far as the actual games handling model will allow – the majority of the cars are sluggish to respond when moving at speed, with more than slight changes of direction met with understeer & squealing tyres, followed by the inevitable tank slapper when you lift off to get some sort of purchase or change of direction going.
Again, if you’ve experienced Carmageddon before, you’ll understand this is how the game is designed and you quickly learn to work around the shortcomings.
One thing that has received the chop are the bespoke in-car dashboards (chase and bonnet only, sorry), but this has one side-effect – more cars are available to ‘officially’ unlock (in the original release, only cars that had dashboards were unlockable – the rest were enabled once the game was completed as ‘cheats’ – sort of a NG+ mode – including the massive ‘Suppressor’ Police Car).
All of the little tweaks pale compared to one genuinely-nice addition – the ability to record, edit and post your best races, most ostentatious cunning stunts (yep, they’re still there) and rampant wholesale American foot-to-ball team mutilation to Youtube with a few clicks. Not 15 years ago, mental stunts like the one below would have been consigned to either a few friends huddled around a fizzing CRT or anecdotes played out in school classrooms and playgrounds. Nowadays, a little editing and a short upload means they’re publicly available for the world to see.
TECHNOLOGY WAS MADE FOR THS!
Unfortunately, the ‘action cam’ can be a little sporadic, gratuitously focussing on pedestrian somersaulting corpses long after you’ve left the scene and sometimes behaving completely differently on the second ‘render’ pass of your film, but like the films that inspired the game, it’s not like your magnum opus is going to be anything more than ‘holy shit’ moment.
Carmageddon for iOS is a very faithful port of the original release, with almost all content surviving, ready for your delectable consumption, whether you should or shouldn’t be. I don’t think I’ve seen a more suitable ‘toilet break’ game on the platform in years, more so given the humour.
Disclosure – Carmageddon was downloaded from the App Store when initially released for free following the Kickstarter campaign.