Carmageddon for PCs came out around the same time as the original Grand Theft Auto, the bird’s eye view version, remember that? I ended up playing Carmageddon more, not because it was a better game, but it was a little more addictive once you get behind the wheel running over pedestrians and smashing into your competition. Is the newly released iOS game just as addicting?
The iOS version of Carmageddon is a faithful reproduction of the PC game, clunkiness and all. The PC game was not a great driving simulator by any stretch, but that actually worked to its advantage. You could lose control of your car, or weave about and plow through pedestrians. Frankly, more authentic driving sims were so complicated it was too hard to stay on course anyway. You ended up staying in control of Carmageddon by working with the flaws.
The old controls of Carmageddon remain basically intact since the game can create touchscreen steering and acceleration/reverse. Just like using the left and right arrows on your keyboard to steer, you can now tap buttons on the left side of the screen to steer, while the right side of the screen has a gas pedal, brake (which also throws you into reverse) and a hand break for tight turning.
The iOS Carmageddon is equipped with tilt controls, like some of the top driving games. It’s an impressive adaptation for the port, but I don’t think it serves this type of driving game. If the driving is already jittery, tilting to accelerate or turn just makes you drive in circles (metaphorically speaking). You don’t actually go anywhere, let alone in circles, but you’re twisting your phone all around. Tapping the brake to suddenly throw in reverse is fine. Pulling your phone back to try to turn your car around is a pain and you just end up losing momentum.
As far as the game itself, the goal of each race is to kill all five of your competitors. It is a race, so you can probably win by crossing the finish line, but I've never seen any car actually finish a Carmageddon race. You either bash all the other cars to death or die trying. It’s basically a demolition derby, and most levels have plenty of pits where the cars can just back up and ram into each other.
You can also upgrade your cars and buy new ones as you level up, though the vehicle with which you begin seems perfectly capable of bashing any other car to hell. You can also repair your car on the fly. That may be cheating. I don’t think the other cars respawn as you’re tearing them apart, but I’m certainly keeping mine in tip top shape for ramming.
Throughout the courses, which all have vastly different environments and weather, any person or animal is fair game. Any time you brush into a pedestrian, even at slow speed, they splatter with ridiculous amounts of blood. Cows too. It’s fun. Not the slightest bit realistic, just a free for all death race. Hey, that’s pretty catchy. Someone should make a movie about some sort of race to the death where you run over people.
The graphics look the same as I remember, blocky but clear, with photo-realistic faces captured for your driver’s cockpit reactions. I mean, just look at that VGA rendered title screen! All the sounds from the original game remain, from the engine rumblings and crashes, to the swearing of your jostled driver. I forgot how profane Carmageddon was.
I love playing Carmageddon again. It’s not high art but it’s great fun. The only possible disadvantage for mobile gaming is that the races can take 15-20 minutes to completely bash up all the other cars. That might not be feasible if you’ve only got five minutes sitting in a waiting room somewhere, but plan accordingly and have fun on the death tracks.