Written by  :  Ola Sverre Bauge (241)
Written on  :  Apr 28, 2000
Platform  :  Windows
Rating  :  4.25 Stars4.25 Stars4.25 Stars4.25 Stars4.25 Stars

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Even sicker, even more fun.

The Good

Carmageddon II is essentially more of the same. This is a good thing. There's an updated 3D engine (now sprite-free and Direct3D accelerated), little things have been added and taken away, and there's a new structure to the races. The physics and car control-and-feel are even more brilliant, allowing you to bounce, spin, skid, do wheelies... it really does feel like a real car, even when you're driving outlandish monster trucks.

The environment has improved a lot since the original, with windows and fences that break, loads of objects that can be pushed around, objects that push you around, and the ability to get just about everywhere with a bit of creative driving. It really feels like these are real places you're trashing.

When paired with the circuit idea from the original, this makes it shine all the brighter; it still feels like there's half a race going on, so the action tends to if not follow, at least loosely hang around the checkpoints and the paths in between. In this way, the full subtlety of the settings comes out as you discover new things when you return to the same setting with a different track layout later on. It's almost enough to make you feel more like driving around checking out the scenery than driving into, over and through the motorists and pedestrians on the way. But only almost.

The fact that everything is 3D, including the pedestrians, does shift the focus of play some; for one, there's less of a splatter factor when ramming at high speed. On the other hand, dismemberment is now possible, and there are additional bonuses for sadistic games such as playing with your victims and sending them flying, not to mention some extremely fun power-up combinations; need I say more than "suicidal turbo pedestrians?"

Damage to cars is a lot more detailed; fun in particular when you get your opponents to the point where only two of their wheels touch the ground, confining them to running helplessly in circles.

The Bad

Towards the end, however, it wears thin. Because of the grouped-track layout, you can get stuck on a particular set of tracks when there's a difficult mission, and there's nothing to stop you from building up for as long as you like before you progress. Since your opponents don't improve the way you do, this makes for some rather easy races.

In the beginning, it's way too easy to get yourself split in half by driving into the side of a building, and for the last third of the game, most of the vehicles are truck-types(trailers, buses, even a plane), which sort of takes the fun out of it. The trucks are really just slow and unwieldy once the power rush fades, and then you're stuck driving them since the only thing likely to take out a truck is another truck.

Carm2's realistic car control might be the biggest argument against it; after all, if it feels so much like a real car, couldn't you wind up ramming pedestrians or taking out motorists in real life?

I played both this and the original within one year, and I can't say it changed my driving habits any. It did, however, make me a more nervous pedestrian; after all, a line of cars waiting at the red light by a pedestrian crossing look very similar to the pack of cars waiting for the start signal while pedestrians walk by, blissfully oblivious.

No way would I play this game with a driving wheel and gas/brake pedal controller, however. You really don't want this closer to the mood of being behind a real driving wheel.

The Bottom Line

Lots more fun for homicidal lunatics everywhere.