Game review: when it comes to stress relief, Carmageddon: Max Damage delivers

Another throwback to the ’90s, Max Damage is so over the top that you don’t really notice its flaws, even when they rear their blood-soaked heads

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 28 July, 2016, 9:02am
UPDATED : Thursday, 28 July, 2016, 9:01am

Carmageddon: Max Damage

Stainless Games

3/5 stars

There’s a bit of a ’90s resurgence going on recently – Ninja Turtles, Independence Day, Power Rangers, awful punk bands – so it kind of makes sense that desperate developers would dust off long-forgotten franchises and give them a new coat of virtual paint. Carmageddon was a lot of fun back in 1997 – gladiatorial-like vehicular mayhem spread over huge maps, where one of your few goals was to smash any given target with your ridiculously powerful killer car.

Carmageddon: Max Damage (available for PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One) might be an awful name, but it’s not half bad given the quality of most 1990s-influenced products flooding the market these days. Sure, it lacks the freshness of the original, the maps might be a little too large in the current sandbox era, and some of the AI can be frustrating at times, but when it comes down to getting rid of stress and just straight-up relieving any aggression, Max Damage delivers.

The concept is fairly simple: you win races by either coming first over the finish line (boring), destroying all rival cars (fun, but difficult) or slaughtering every pedestrian on screen (strangely cathartic). Playing the latter option gets particularly creative as the game continues, as the game provides a wide variety of weapons and mods that range from the ridiculous to the downright revolting: head-exploding mechanisms that turn little old ladies in wheelchairs into a pink mist, physics-defying vacuums that soak up every screaming nobody into the hood of your car, not to mention a variety of vehicular add-ons, including blades, spikes and flame throwers.

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It’s all so over the top that you don’t really notice when the flaws rear their blood-soaked heads: for example, the driving mechanics in this driving game are surprisingly poor, not to mention the incredible number of glitches, but it’s easy to write those off as part of the package.

Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be and most critics are giving Max Damage a pretty hard time considering the bloated state of games these days. It’s filled with flaws, without a doubt, but there’s no denying the cathartic nature of it all: nothing but you, limitless roads, a ridiculous car and an endless number of squishable pedestrians to get rid of that aggression.