Carmageddon II: Carpocalypse Now

a game by Interplay Entertainment Corp.
Platform: PC
Editor Rating: 7/10, based on 2 reviews, 3 reviews are shown
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You may think you're a valuable human being, with thoughts, emotions, ambitions and desires, but as far as that oncoming vehicle is concerned, you're just a big bag of blood. Hit hard enough, you'll burst like an offal balloon, transformed from a blinking, thinking being into a sickening whirlwind of spiralling innards and marrowbone shrapnel. Roads are heartless tarmac racetracks ruled by four-wheeled metal boxes driven by barely sentient sales reps whose rationale for speeding rests entirely on the fact that they haven't suffered a fatal head-on crash... yet.

And who can blame them, since they're scarcely aware they're driving at all? They've got one ear tuned to Rubbish FM, and the other plugged into a mobile phone, and both sides of the road are littered with eye-catching hoardings designed to make passing motorists stop thinking about driving and start thinking about buying a new kind of breakfast cereal instead. Step out in front of one of these motorised sleepwalkers and your sole contribution to our national heritage is likely to amount to little more than just another harrowing statistic in an eerie public information film.

Still, at least no-one's deliberately trying to mow you down (touch wood). When you think about it, simply using a zebra crossing involves an incredible amount of trust on the part of the pedestrian. Would you feel safe walking in front of a man with a loaded gun? Of course not - yet a car could kill you just as easily. God be praised we're not living in the world of Carmageddon.

Carmageddon has made Stainless Software rich, an observation authenticated by the flash cars parked outside their increasingly cramped offices housed on the Isle of Wight. Carmageddon is a game in which you crash cars and run over pedestrians to score points. It's also incredibly gory. As anyone with a passing interest in gaming is aware, it ran into trouble with the BBFC (British Board of Film Censors), and was released in censored form. Fortunately for psychopaths everywhere, the BBFC's decision was subsequently overturned, and the game was restored to its full gory glory. And they did it all for a laugh. According to lead artist Neil Barnden: "It was a case of thinking of all the things you'd really like to do in a driving game - where you'd play something and think 'yeah, but if only you could do that then it would be fucking ace' - and then making it." They seem to laugh a lot at Stainless. Particularly when they're demonstrating Carmageddon II -Carpocalypse Now, their current work in progress. They laugh out loud, and they're not simply putting on a show for the benefit of PC. They're laughing because Carmageddon II is almost unbearably funny.

Crawling From The Wreckage

The talented development team behind Carmageddon II is headed by three main players. First there's Patrick Buckland, lead programmer, and the aforementioned Neil Barnden. For computer boffins, they're an unlikely looking duo. Patrick sports a lengthy wizard's beard; if he put on enough weight he could pose as a malevolent Santa Claus. Neil is stocky and shaven-headed., observing proceedings with the faindy detached amusement of an Amsterdam coffee shop attendant. If they turned up together on your doorstep i n the middle of a thunderstorm, you could be forgiven for anticipating an ugly incident involving a claw hammer. Fortunately, the only atrocities they commit are restricted to the small screen.

Anyone whose education was enlivened by the occasional illicit laugh at an obscene doodle scrawled on the back of an exercise book would get on well with Patrick and Neil. Naughty schoolboy giggling abounds as the pair demonstrate their latest meisterwork. A recent change to the code has enabled the team to start placing 'jointed' objects, such as articulated lorries, into the game. It sounds like a minor change, but it means that, for example, you can open the car door while driving, hence the current hilarity - Patrick weeps with laughter as he takes a pedestrian's arm off with a well-aimed swipe. So, guys, how does it feel to be responsible for probably the most tasteless game of all time?

Patrick takes offence: "Probably the most? I should hope it's the most tasteless game of all time, or else I'll be damned annoyed." Well, the first Carmageddon was exceptionally tasteless... how could this possibly be worse?

Neil points out the inclusion of extra animals, including elephants. "Elephants contain an enormous quantity of blood," he notes sagely. Patrick goes even further. "We've redefined the boundaries of bad taste," he boasts. "We thought we were going to go to Hell the first time; this time we're going to Hell with a special apartment reserved halfway up Satan's bottom."

Objects In Mirror Are Closer They They

Looking on is big cheese number three, development manager Mat Sullivan, an ex-Bultfrog employee and bona fide games enthusiast. During our visit, he enthuses at length about a variety of PC titles and is eager to hear our opinions on recent releases. Aside from appreciating the games themselves, he clearly likes to keep an eye on the competition. So what did he make of similarly anarchic car 'em up Grand Theft Auto?

"I didn't see what all the censorship fuss was about," he says. "It didn't make me want to go out and hurt anyone; well, not beyond the normal feelings of hatred I always have for the general public." And what about the game itself? "The missions were fun. If there's time, we'll be having missions in Carmageddon 11. Mot because GTA did, but because it would enable us to add features at a slower pace, rather than revealing everything the game has to offer on the first level."

Missions, eh? Hmmm. So what else is new? Are there loads more cars? Neil pipes up first: "Yeah, lots more hot rods and fast things with blades, plus a half-tank/half-VW bus, bubble cars, a combine harvester, a wrecking ball crane, assorted heavy plant stuff and a wingless Stuka dive-bomber. My personal favourite is the very small car driven by a giant cow." Neil then demonstrates said vehicle on-screen. It beggars belief. "Another important point is that these cars are all designed in separate pieces, interjects Mat. "They can dent, crush and bend... we can break off any body panel and smash all the glass - all the windscreens, windows, headlights and everything. You can knock out an engine, and in rare cases even tear the entire car in half." Jesus! So, being car crash aficionados, do they enjoy watching those Police, Camera, Action-style 'rubberneck' TV programmes? Neil grins: "The best was one I saw in the States recently. It was called Surviving The Moment Of Impact II."

Putting The 'Sick' Into 'Physics'

One of the factors that made the original title such a joy to play was the attentive emulation of'real world' physics. Not surprisingly, the technology behind it has been improved for the sequel. "More things can collide at once than in the first Carmageddon explains Mat. "Everything's part of the 'world' and can affect everything else. You could push a pedestrian in front of your car, then brake, and the pedestrian would carry on sliding; then, say, hit another pedestrian and smash them both through a glass window."

Which should cheer us all up. Speaking of pedestrians, there are a whole bunch of improvements here. But first let's ask about the multi-player options. The original Carmageddon deathmatch mode was a tad flawed in that department.

"The only real failing was that the environments were too large," claims Patrick. "If the players understood that, they'd make a point of sticking together and the game was great. Otherwise, they tended to get lost, and I can see how it could've been frustrating. Carma going to have much tighter deathmatch arenas."

In Cold Blood

So, they may be responsible for the goriest game in history, but are they at all squeamish? Patrick looks contemplative; "I love good splatter movies - Bad Taste and Brain Dead are some of the best pieces of cinema ever made. Bui I can't stand real blood -particularly my own, which belongs inside my body where I can't see it." What about serial killers? Got any particular favourites? Patrick brightens up considerably: "Jeffrey Dahmer's my man! He had style: eating his victims, drilling into diem while they were alive..."

Woah, horsey! Woah! Does the fact that you live on an island contribute to this nihilistic sense of humour? Is everyone on the Isle of Wight like this? Patrick shrugs: "Well, there was a bit of witchcraft going on here a couple of years ago - people sacrificing goats and things." "Yeah, but then wc got bored with that so we set up a games company instead," adds Neil.

Everybody in the room laughs out loud. But we wouldn't like to give odds on whether or not he was joking...

Death Awaits

There's still a long way to go before Carmageddon II is ready for the nation's (disapproval. At the time of our visit, the team was beavering away in an attempt to get a special preview version ready for the E3 show in Atlanta. But you'll be able to savour the game in its full, glass-smashing, limb-wrenching, vehicle-buckling, gore-sodden glory later this year when we bring you an exclusive demo. Last year, your votes secured Carmageddon our Game Of The Year award. On the evidence we've seen thus far, Stainless just might manage the double.

To Bleed Or Not To Bleed?

If the censors decide, in their infinite wisdom, to clamp down on Caima IPs bloodfest, there's always Plan B, as Stainless reveal

Tlie version of Carmageddon IIwe saw was the 'full-blooded', uncensored version. At the time of writing, no decision had been made regarding its UK release. Obviously, while SCI are keen to avoid another confrontation with the BfiFC, they'd prefer to see the deep red 'director's cut' on the shelves. And so would we Past examples from the worfd of cinema suggest that the BBFC is capable of seeing the joke when It comes to 'comedic' gore - witness the aforementioned Brain Dead, which escaped uncut, or Paul Verhoeven's splatterific Starship Troopers, which was passed with a 15 certificate Like those films, Carmageddon II sets out to amuse rather than appal. But just in case the game falls foul of the censors, Stainless can adopt Plan B, as Mat Sullivan explains. "For the countries which censor games they see as violent, we're doing a version with cool-looking aliens or zombies instead of pedestrians. They'll behave exactly the same as the humans, but with different animations and green blood." Nice, but not as funny. Fingers crossed for the full-on, gristle-packed incarnation.

This Is Hard-Core

Carma II soars to new heights of tasteless ghoulishness. Excellent!

If you thought pedestrians had a raw deal In the first game, you're in for a shock with the second installment. For the sequel, each 'ped' is constructed from around 70 polygons -these are proper, three-dimensional people. And since Stainless are no longer dealing with dumb sprites, they are free to bless their creations with more realistic behaviour patterns: the new Improved peds can walk, swagger, trot or flee in a mad, arm-waving panic. Sometimes they even get down on their knees and beg for mercy. The naive fools. Want more? Well, here's another leap forward for stomach-churning technology: detachable body parts. Strike a glancing blow and you can tear somebody's leg clean off. Or send both their arms bouncing across your bonnet Or hurl them into a nearby lamp-post with enough force to decapitate them. A multiple pile-up in the centre of a crowded pavement often results in a swarm of bloodied limbs being tossed around like numbered balls in a lottery machine.

But wait, It gets better the victims don't always die outright Yep, sometimes the unfortunate peds will pick themselves up off the ground - missing limbs and all - and desperately start hopping away, their severed veins spewing goblets of blood from the freshly tom stumps, just like the Black Knight from Monty Python And The Holy Grail. We wouldn't believe it If we hadn't seen It with our own eyes. It's a nightmare of ghoulish obscenity. And It's f**king hilarious.

Download Carmageddon II: Carpocalypse Now

PC

System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP

Game Reviews

The story behind Carmageddon 2 involves a...oh,come on,like you actually need a plot to support the sequel to the nastiest racing game in the history of man? Just get in your car and do whatever it takes to win the futuristic road rally.. .even if that means crushing opponents' cars or running over dozens of innocent bystanders in the process.

This time, those pedestrians are fully polygonal; they'll jump, dance, flee, even beg for mercy--and their limbs fly off when you strike them at high speeds.You can plow into them with 40 different cars, which now feature windshields that shatter and doors that fly open.Watch for 90 different power-ups, particle effects, huge levels (including an airport a ski resort and an amusement park) and native 3D card support The repetitive sounds and graphic pop-up, however, need work before this road warrior is ready to roll.

Overview

Drive. Kill. Win. That's just about all there is to Carmageddon II: Carpocalypse Now. This ultra-violent racing game places you in the driver's seat against opponents with only one thing on their minds -- win at any cost. All the pedestrian-splattering action of the original Carmageddon is here, with additional carnage-enhancing features that will leave you either screaming for mercy or screaming for more.

Gameplay, Controls, Interface

Blood and gore -- that's what it's all about. There's not a socially redeeming quality to be found. But if you want fast-paced racing action that doesn't care about rules of the road, Carpocalypse Now will give it to you. Everything that made the original Carmageddon such a wonderful (and demented) game is still present. The physics model is among the best found in arcade racing games -- only high-end racing simulators can match it. Enemy drivers react to your actions, hold grudges and even anticipate your moves, rather than just roaring along at top speed. Pedestrians run screaming when you approach. Bits of cars and scenery go careening away from collisions. All the carnage Carmageddon fans expect is here, and everything is stepped up a notch.

There are lots of cool racing environments in the game, ranging from ski slopes and amusement parks to an aircraft carrier called the USS Lewinsky. Each area has unique features. I particularly enjoyed racing around the airport runways, trying to take out a 747. Each environment is visited several times throughout the game, but each time the track layout or goals are different. This makes exploring much more important, as secrets and shortcuts you find in one race may be vital to completing a later challenge in the allotted time.

New to the sequel are goal-specific missions that range from destroying radar towers to killing specific pedestrians. The goal missions are grouped with the standard races -- to complete each group of tracks, you must win all three races and the goal-based scenario. The missions help to break up the races add some variety to the game, but many of them are challenging enough that players may become frustrated trying to complete them so they can move on.

There are also plenty of new powerups in the game. You can now get additional pedestrian and car crushing 'weaponry'? ranging from a huge spiked ball that trails behind you to spring-loaded launchers that fling opponents across the map. There are even new powerups that affect the way the pedestrians look or react. Some change them into stick figures; others will put them into slow motion. There's even one that turns them all suicidal so they run at your car instead of away from it.

Graphics

Carpocalypse Now is built around a redesigned 3D engine that is much better than before. The game takes advantage of some cool effects available in today's 3D accelerators, but falls short of the eye candy offered in other 3D games. The 3D models for the cars and damage effects and debris are well done, and the death and dismemberment of the polygon-based pedestrians has been lovingly detailed. (I already said it was a sick and twisted game, didn't I?)

Audio

The music, which includes tracks from Iron Maiden, is a heart-pounding rush of heavy metal that goes great with the on-screen mayhem. Add to that the screeching of torn metal, crunching of broken glass and squealing of tires and you've got a mix that's guaranteed to stand your hair on end.

System Requirements

Pentium 200 (P2-266 or faster recommended), 32 MB RAM, 4X CD-ROM drive, 3D accelerator recommended

Parental Warning

Carmageddon was touted as one of the most violent and disturbing games ever. Carpocalyse Now more than lives up to its predecessor -- this is a very sick and twisted game. The game is rated M (Mature) for violence, blood and gore. About the only place where this game is less offensive than the original is with language -- Carpocalypse Now doesn't have anywhere near the swearing.

Bottom Line

I like the original Carmageddon -- and we spent many evenings around our offices smashing into each other. Even with all the improvements in Carpocalyse Now, I just didn't enjoy the game quite as much as I expected. The new race modes were fun, but not engrossing enough to get me as hooked as I was on the original. The game does continue the gory Deathrace 2000-style carnage of its predecessor in grand fashion, but it just didn't score quite as high overall in my book. With more realism in the violence this title is definitely not for young gamers or the faint of heart, but if blood and gore doesn't bother you and all-out mayhem is your style then take a look.