The concept of running over people and animals for fun is demented, and the amount of blood spilled in Carmageddon 2: Carpocalypse Now is downright insane. It's a game any reasonable person would want to hate, but there's an appeal here that can't be denied. There are many clever vehicles, the levels are fun, and the physics engine is simply amazing. For those not bothered by a game based solely on vehicular manslaughter, this is a worthy addition to any gaming library.
The storyline closely resembles the original Carmageddon -- the race is on and it's every driver for him or herself. Races can be finished in the traditional and somewhat boring manner of chasing checkpoints or drivers can try to kill each other by ramming other cars until they explode. Another option is to run down the entire populace (people and animals referred to as "peds") to finish a race. It is automotive mayhem from the drop of the checkered flag.
This sequel shows a graduation in graphics and gore. Polygon "peds" and cars have replaced the pixilated 2D violence of the first game, providing the programmers with more flexibility with fatalities. Pedestrians now fly apart in a smear of arms, legs and heads with disgusting grace. The cars also show realistic damage as windows smash, fenders fall off and spectacular crashes often end up with the entire car sheared in half. Those faint of heart and weak of stomach need not apply.
There are occasional graphic glitches (e.g., late draw-in, body part clipping and so forth) but nothing that wrecks gameplay. The consideration given to the original physics engine continues to shine and the realism lies almost perfectly between Ford's crash tests and Speed Racer's wipeouts. Drivers may choose to ignore inflicting damage upon others in favor of spectacular wipeouts and mind-boggling jumps. The amusement park level is especially suited for this purpose with loops, jumps, and a roller coaster track. Cars can power slide, make bootleg U-turns, and leave long patches of skid marks.
As if the tweaked physics engine and sadistic gameplay isn't enough, Stainless Software has included a multitude of power-ups to intensify the homicidal experience. Expect variations in gravity, a host of anti-ped and anti-vehicle weapons and many others that change the face of the game for a limited time. The effects are not only wacky and unique but are also stackable. Hitting a "ped" after acquiring Dismemberfest and Pinball mode power-ups causes miscellaneous body parts to bounce crazily down the road.
After every three races, there are special levels with different goals such as destroying radar towers by jumping from building to building, killing a set of "peds" infected with a virus or destroying an enormous dump truck, which becomes available later. While the normal races are time bound, players can rack up more time by killing opponents or people. The special levels, however, can become frustrating due to the set time limit. After destroying the surprisingly smart computer drivers, it is time to seek out live people. Internet multiplayer will keep the title from gathering dust on the shelf for quite a while.
The final piece to this bloody puzzle is the sound element. Special care is given to capturing the perfect screams of terror and startled yelps of animals. Each car has a different feel and sound and it's easy to find a personal favorite. Iron Maiden provides a suitable soundtrack for Sunday drivers. Be warned: even if the shrieks and squeals don't bother you, they're sure to bring a spouse or child running into the room to watch the chaos.
Carmageddon 2: Carpocalypse Now is a finely tuned vehicle for releasing inner bloodlust without the complications of a felony. This bloody road rage won't appeal to everyone but, if your taste runs towards cars and carnage, then get behind the wheel of this fast-action paced mayhem.
Graphics: The sequel features a major improvement over pixelation seen in the original game. Blood and guts may be too gross for some.
Sound: Metal rending, heart stopping, teeth rattling sounds abound. Honk your horn if you love screaming!
Enjoyment: The darker side finally gets a chance in the driver's seat. Just tell others you are playing because the physics engine is so good (which it is), not because you enjoy the carnage!
Replay Value: Internet multiplayer extends life expectancy, although mass murder may get old. Levels sprawl with hard to reach areas providing a challenge, too.
People who downloaded Carmageddon 2: Carpocalypse Now have also downloaded:
Carmageddon, Carmageddon Max Pack, Carmageddon 3: TDR 2000, Driver (a.k.a. Driver: You Are the Wheelman), CART Precision Racing, Diablo 2, Comanche 4, Age of Empires 2: The Age of Kings
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