Carmageddon: Max Damage Review

Richard Walker

Carmageddon made a name for itself as one of the first games to court real controversy back in the day, with its rampant automotive violence tasking players with running over pedestrians for the sheer hell of it. Carmageddon: Max Damage preserves the series' legacy with thousands more 'peds' to smash into bits over the hood of your car, while wrecking other racers in a race for supremacy. Fans who remember the original and its follow-up fondly will no doubt hold a special place in their hearts for this new game.

Not much has changed in the last almost 20 years then, even if ratings boards haven't demanded green-blooded zombies for this one. And while Carmageddon: Max Damage proves to be a predictably solid, bloody chunk of entertaining ultra-violence, wearing its all-pervading, schlocky Death Race 2000 influences on its sleeve, it's also a bit of a car crash.

Yeah, this doesn't look like a fair match-up.

Its none-more British sense of humour, stuffed to the gills with some excellently offensive pun work and off-the-wall weaponry only takes the game so far, as the occasionally erratic camera, dodgy handling and shabby PS2-era visuals all combine to make for a disappointing whole. Some of the multiple modes on offer are also a chore, while Classic Carma proves to be the purest and most enjoyable mode that Max Damage has to offer.

Classic Carma is the crux of Carmageddon: Max Damage, putting you behind the wheel of your chosen death machine on a large map inhabited by idiotic peds who really ought to know better. You can then win the ensuing race by mowing down the hundreds of people in wheelchairs or on motorised scooters, pensioners with walking frames, folks riding bicycles, nuns, cows, dogs, sheep, penguins or pedestrians just milling around minding their own business.

Or you can achieve victory by legitimately racing through the checkpoints for several laps (boring!), or adopt my favourite (and easiest) method of simply wrecking every one of your rival racers. Destroying certain marked vehicles will also enable you to steal them, adding a new ride to your garage, making the Burnout way of racing undoubtedly the most enjoyable and rewarding. PowerUps or 'PUPs' as they're affectionately known in-game, also inject some extra hilarity to proceedings, with the likes of the bastard ray, anvil shot, mine shitting and more all ensuring the carnage doesn't purely involve ramming rivals and peds alike.

Less successful compared to Classic Carma are Checkpoint Stampede events where you fight off other drivers to collect 10 checkpoints against the clock, or Ped Rush, where you're scrambling to splatter a marked ped before the rest of your opponents. Then there's Death Race, in which first to the finish line wins and destroying rivals meaning stealing laps. Car Crusher is more enjoyable, but next to the wanton carnage of Classic Carma, the rest of what's on offer simply feels lacking by comparison. Fox 'n' Hounds, meanwhile, only serves to highlight how daft the single-player AI is.

Yet, if you want to progress and unlock everything, you're going to have to slog through the lot. And there's 16 chapters, all offering essentially the same thing over and over. It's not long before it gets a bit stale, the big puns shouted into your face as they hit the screen, arterial spray splattering the camera. Granted, the weapons and array of outrageous vehicles you'll acquire add some variety, but given how frustrating the handling model can be, Max Damage will stretch your patience somewhat.

Multiplayer doesn't exactly fare a whole lot better. It works well enough, but playing Carmageddon online is actually surprisingly dull. Car Crusher is a free-for-all in which you have to destroy your rivals, while Checkpoint Stampede and Death Race are the same as they are in single-player, except with human rivals competing to chase down randomly spawning checkpoints or racing for the finish line.

How hamburgers are made in Carmageddon land.

Fox 'n' Hounds mode proves to be Carmageddon's most enjoyable multiplayer component, working rather well as a twist on Cat and Mouse, in which players chase the Fox in a fast-paced and chaotic game of tag. It's infinitely better than it is in single-player against AI opponents. An absence of peds to splatter and a limit of only six players also hampers the multiplayer experience a great deal. In short, it's entirely dispensable stuff.

Mercifully, there are only a handful of achievements attached to Max Damage's perfunctory multiplayer, leaving the lion's share for the single-player campaign. A list that will require a lot of play time, you'll spend a lot of hours squishing pedestrians, winning races and racking up points to unlock the 16 levels, each comprising several races. Heap some grind-worthy challenges on top of that lot, and you have an achievement list that covers all the requisite bases and does a decent job of it too.

Severely lacking in polish, Carmageddon: Max Damage nonetheless manages to provide some enjoyable, dumb fun for a good few hours. Had Stainless Games spent some additional time tightening up the handling and just generally refining the entire experience, while pouring a little extra care and attention into the game's visuals, Carmageddon: Max Damage could have been so much more than just a shoddy and rather throwaway novelty. That said, there's not really anything out there quite like Carmageddon and if you're looking for something that'll help shut your brain off for a few hours, you could do a lot worse.

Carmageddon: Max Damage

Successfully preserving the spirit of Carmageddon, Max Damage is addictive and good fun. Unfortunately, it's also a hideous looking game, with a dodgy handling model and repetitive race types that add up to a frustrating, and ultimately disappointing whole. Carmageddon: Max Damage has a certain appeal, but if you don't get the game's uniquely sick sense of humour, you're going to hate it. Otherwise, you'll love it regardless, like an ugly dog with three legs or something.

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A mixture of metal music and electronica makes for an apt soundtrack selection, while the screams of splattered pedestrians are as they should be. Engine noises are decent too.


Max Damage's weakest aspect. Truly, its visuals are genuinely shabby, with texture pop-in, an overall muddiness to the aesthetics, and occasional frame rate choppiness. A shoddy mess, Carmageddon looks like crap.


Some vehicles, like Madam Scarlett's Shredlight, handle wonderfully, while others like Vlad's Annihilator are impossible to control. However, the handling overall isn't great, feeling a bit loose at times, making for a largely ungratifying driving experience. For squishing peds, though, it's serviceable.


Carmageddon: Max Damage has a lengthy campaign, Free Play mode and multiplayer, but it all becomes far too repetitious. Some race types are great fun, whereas others are a chore.


A solid list let down by some horrible grinding achievements, like the 'Up Your Carma' mission that demands completing every race, including each Classic Carma event in all three ways. That means running over thousands of peds, which will prove exceedingly boring.

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