Review: Carmageddon: Max Damage – The Red Eagle is Road Worthy & Console Bound


Lock up your doors and stay off the streets, Max Damage is back behind the wheel of the Red Eagle. Back in 2015 Carmageddon Reincarnation was launched thanks to a successful Kickstarter, and fans seen the “video game nasty” title get a lick of paint for some modern era homicidal fun. The game even has the original developers Stainless Games back on board. Now Max Damage comes to the Xbox One titled Carmageddon: Max Damage and if you remember the 90’s then you will know that this was the title for the original game bundled with an expansion pack. This time it brings an updated version of Carmageddon Reincarnation to consoles with some added extras. The faint hearted may want to look away now as this ride is going to get bloody with limbs going everywhere. As a gamer who grew up with Carmageddon I was more than eager to get behind the wheel of the deadly Red Eagle.

I remember when the original Carmageddon first got released and the controversy that surrounded it. “How could such a game get released?” and “It’s the work of the devil” you would here the parents and media shout. It wasn’t the gore that was the issue, it was the fact that you scored points and time by running over pedestrians. The controversy just helped boost the sales of a very popular and unique game at the time. I was around 15 when I played the game and I turned out OK, hell I even put this game on my schools computer just to get my fix. If you have a Smartphone then I suggest you check out what all the fuss was about as you can get the original 90’s game, with a free version also available. You could also check out steam for the complete Carmageddon history with all three of the previous titles released. Carmageddon is pretty much what video nasties were to the horror genre with the game even being banned in some countries.

At the most basic level Carmageddon is all about either winning a race via passing through checkpoints while mowing down the pedestrians, wreak all of your opponents, or you know just hunt down every last pedestrian on the map and win that way. On your travels there are various power-ups that will either help or destroy you and I mean literary destroy you. The very popular Pinball Mode power-up returns as well as a vast amount of classic and new ones. This isn’t anything like a normal racing game, it goes much darker and grittier than that. The car handles like something from a B-movie horror that will have you cursing words you shouldn’t on a Sunday drive, but its all part of the Carmageddon experience. Fans of the series will love the game while new racers will need to get accustomed to the rough car handling and some straight out wacky physics.

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The gameplay hasn’t really changed since the original but there have been some changes to the single player mode. Instead of just going through races on each map as you would if you have played previous titles, it is now split into chapters with race events. Each chapter will have the classic Carmageddon event with a few other events added. Not all the chapters are unlocked, instead you need to gain enough points from the unlocked events. You will want to end each event with a high points figure though as to unlock the other chapters. I have been able to unlocke over half of the chapters without completing every single unlocked event. Events include Ped Chase where you have to run over a specific pedestrian which is fun. You can wreck your opponents to steal their points as well. In Car Crusher you need to be the first to wreck six opponents. There is a cool Fox ‘N’ Hounds mode where you have to stay the fox to run down the timer and the first to do it wins. Other modes include Death Race and Check Point Stampede. The various events don’t differ too much from each other so don’t expect major variety but they are all fun.

This time around the maps are much more open and larger in size with a good level of destruction involved. The maps have been put together using a collection of the best bits from previous locations in the games history. Fans will instantly recognise locations from the first game but there are some new ones to venture too as well. The first map you will race on is very recognizable which is on the streets with a full blown football stadium to invade. You will also find a strip joint called Saggy Maggie’s that you can smash through. This is pretty insane as there is more than just strippers in there, you have dancing cows and even nuns shaking their thing! Just all part of the Carmageddon humour that plagued the series since creation. One of the new locations is out in the Antarctic which consist of iceberg’s joined together by a run down oil rig, a very treacherous landscape for racing. Another location includes a little seaside town setting that’s looks like a nod to the Jaw’s moves, when you come across it you will know. My favourite location so far though has to be the wild west style location merged together with an Area 51 theme location title Area 52B. You just can’t miss the OTT crashed UFO and the aliens around it. Hell there is even a train that you you can jump over or get hit by and split in two.

The car and world physics has seen a massive overhaul from previous games and it does seem to portray what the dev team wanted in previous titles but technology at the time just didn’t allow it. While the car’s handling isn’t full on simulation driving, they do have some great model damage, hitting fans with OTT demolition derby style gameplay. Hell you can even attach a caravan to your car for even more destructive fun. From blown engines, burst tyres, driving cars halved in two and tyres flying off into pedestrians, almost every individual car part has some sort of visual damage. Ever heard the term “That car is seeing stars?” well you have now, hit a car hard enough and you will know what its like. Let’s just say there is a driver and a windscreen involved.

There are over thirty cars in the game to unlock and drive, all with their own unique personality as well as their own mad-cap driver in the driving seat. Form the classic Red Eagle to a Truck and even a deadly Hearse that brings death to the living rather than transporting the dead to their final resting place. You can customize the wheel rims and body paint, as well as work to upgrade the cars stats in armour, power and offensive. You will have to obtain upgrade tokens by completing events and finding them while you drive. The option to upgrade each part will happen as you play the game. Unlocking other cars in the game is a very simple and fun affair. Before you start an even you will be told if a car can be stolen. All you need to do then is wreck it during the event. This is quite random and certain cars can only be found in later chapters.

The games difficulty is most suited to casual gamers with three levels of difficulty. Even when you get wrecked you are just thrown back into the game, at the cost of some points obviously. That said the later the chapter the tougher the opponents, you can try and keep the Red Eagle all the way till the end but be prepared to get wrecked in one hit. If you don’t have enough Carmageddon points for recovery you just start hitting the minus figures. If however you hold down X and use the left stick you can get your car out of almost any tight situation, also known to show your cars break dancing moves. Carmageddon: Max Damage is quite retro at heart and it’s good that the team have kept the gameplay that made the originals so much fun. Power-ups come in the form of coloured barrels representing a certain type. For example the black barrels tend to be pretty much like playing Russian roulette and losing almost all the time. Red barrels tend too be a power up that you can use on opponents like the anvil, or the pedestrians like the new Temporary Ascension power-up. Yellow barrels will be either extra time or extra credits, there are a couple of others which I will let you find out for yourself.

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Freeplay mode will allow you to venture the games maps at your leisure letting you search how to get to roof tops etc. It will also let you mess about with many of the games settings and try out all the different event types on any of the tracks that you have unlocked. There are also some collectables in the game in the form of smelly bushes, as well as upgrade tokens to find on your blood soaked travels. The game also has multiplayer which will suit a lot of the fans. All event types are on offer here and no doubt fans will be making some great videos of their wrecking sprees. At the time of writing I was unable to test out the multiplayer but I don’t see any issues and will report back if there is any.

Graphically Carmageddon: Max Damage won’t push the console to it’s limits but it does have that gritty Carmageddon charm and B-movie feel. The visuals have also seen an upgrade compared to those from the 2015 title. Individual car parts will receive burn marks etc. emphasising the amount of sheer destruction that goes on. The team have gone for a cel-shaded look, which I guess makes it a little more successful to get by the censorships. The damage modelling is top notch and there are still an insane amount of pedestrians on the screen at once allowing for plenty of blood soaked power-slide trails. Only in Carmageddon can you still drive a car that is halved in two. The games music is the familiar heavy rock / Grunge sound but you can turn it off if it’s not to your liking.

The Good Things

  • It Classic Carmageddon updated.
  • As fun and humorous as we all remember, even with dancing cows.
  • Fans of the series will be in their element.

And The Bad

  • Draw distance can be a little questionable at times.
  • Loading times could be a little shorter.
  • No option to make animals as pedestrians (What can I say I’m an animal person)

My Verdict…

    Carmageddon: Max Damage has updated Carmageddon Resurrection to be let loose on consoles, even if only for the most dedicated fans. The game hasn’t lost what made it popular in the first place and plays just like we remember from the nineties. That may not sit well with gamers new to the franchise but I am having a lot of fun with this title. Max Damage is back and takes us for a very bloody joy ride. Yes the game gets repetitive but that’s just something that goes hand in hand with the series. The graphics may not be in line with Project CARS but that’s all part of the gritty Carmageddon charm. It won’t be to everyone’s cup of tea but to older gamers and those just looking for some insane and bloody mayhem this title hits that craving.

Dancing cows in a strip joint, what else do you need?

About no1phil

PR Manager & Editor for XLC Gaming Network. I have been gaming since the ZX Spectrum days growing up through many generations of consoles. A bit of a jack of all trades when it comes to gaming genres. When I'm not either being shot at, dancing, scoring for the other team or racing I am trying to become a guitar God with Rocksmith 2014.