E3 2016: Carmegeddon: Max Damage Works and is Awesome

Having been a fan of Carmegeddon ever since the original PC demo released back in ’97, I found myself disappointed with the recent rebirth of the series, Reincarnation. Not because of the bad pun. Those are appreciated with gusto around these parts. More because I could not play it. Despite a rig that met the requirements, I could not play it with an acceptable framerate. Chalking this up to my aging hardware not being configured properly, I deleted the title, and moved on to other things.

Turns out I was wrong, and Stainless Games knows it. There was an issue with the final build of Reincarnation, and the upcoming enhanced edition, known as Max Damage, is the apology/make good. They are so concerned with making it up to their fans that the updated version will be automatically given free to owners of Reincarnation. This is a very respectable step in my book. Even more so that this new edition plays exactly as it should.

Carmegeddon Max Damage 1

My hands on time with Max Damage was on the PlayStation 4 edition. The one race vertical slice I was given put me in command of the titular Max Damage, driving the Eagle. This car is the most famous of the Carmegeddon series, being that it’s bright red, sporty, and has a buzz saw running along the top. When the race started, I tore off the line, screaming through the desert. Taking corners was easy for me, painful for the pedestrians as I powerslid to broadside full groups of them, earning “Artistic Impression” points and bonus time to the race clock. Soon, though, I fell into my favorite way to play from the past: wreck the hell out of the competition.

The demolition derby type stuff is just as fun as it was in the ’90s, in case anyone was worried that it wouldn’t age well. Between ambushing opponents that are doing their own thing and getting into jousting matches, the play is similar but smoother than before. The damage modeling has been taken over the top, too. At one point, I was too aggressive and tried to chase down an opponent that was currently running to my left. Apparently, I was doing this on a set of train tracks, something I learned when a train came barreling down, cutting my vehicle clean in half.

Carmegeddon Max Damage 2

While I was able to still move despite being half the man I used to be, the quick repair function is still present. During my play, I used this to rebuild, pieces flying back from all over the map to slam into place on my vehicle. The effect is akin to Tony Stark being chased by his Iron Man suit parts. Suffice it to say, this was cool and almost as satisfying as dismantling an opponent.

The famous power ups were present in my race as well. Being as this is a direct continuation of the original series, many of them are detrimental when misused. The two major ones I came across were the pogo one, and one that turns the vehicle into stone. The pogo one is classic, causing the driver who picked it up to bounce across the environment with minimal control. Cruddy when the player doesn’t know how to handle it, but enjoyable when the player is able to Mario jump an opponent. The granite one would have been great if I had picked it up. Instead, I had pushed a crippled car into it. It changed, but I didn’t realize how. Backing up, and driving back into the foe in hopes of finishing it off, I quickly discovered what had happened. At this point, the developer advised me that this move was not a wise one, as I was holding down the repair button and complimenting his observational skills.

Carmegeddon Max Damage 3

Much too soon, though, the race was over by way of elimination. I was victorious. As this was a “classic” Carmegeddon race, I could also have won via hitting the checkpoints or running down pedestrians in gory fashion. Had I not been forced to leave so that the next person could have a turn, I would have rerun the same race again. Considering that “classic” is only one of the numerous race types, along with the myriad vehicle types that handle differently, and 90+ powerups, Carmegeddon: Max Damage looks to have the legs needed to have staying power. That is, until I run it down just to get a boost on my timer.