Video Game / Carmageddon

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Hang on to yer helmet...

Carmageddon is a racing video game released in 1997 by Interplay Entertainment. The game ostensibly revolves around a series of car races held in a Wide Open Sand Box, although racing is really not this game's selling-point. The player can race the opposition around the track, but true success comes mainly from causing as much damage as possible to their cars, as well as running down the innocent civilians (zombies in certain editions) that practically litter the map. At the time, it was one of the first video games to feature this type of violence on such a massive scale — the game actively encourages the player to kill as many pedestrians as possible, something which garnered it a lot of controversy from Media Watchdogs.

Each race takes place in a different scene: the countryside, a bustling metropolis, a series of mine shafts and so on. Each race is timed, and requires the player to pass through Check Points placed along the course to win.

That is - if you choose to complete the race at all.

The other option is to kill as many civilians as you can, and attempt to destroy your competitors by repeatedly ramming into them at high speed. They, of course, are constantly trying to do this to YOU. Although it is based on the earlier Destruction Derby, Carmageddon's improved collision physics (not to mention aerial and underwater physics!) means that hitting both opponents and civilians in different ways (particularly at different strength and with a different side of your car) gives bonus points and extra time on the clock. The race can thus be won by demolishing all other competitors' cars and earning a lot more points than you would just by racing through the checkpoints. The points you gain can then be used to unlock upgrades to your car, making it even more dangerous.

For extra sadism value, races may also be won by killing all civilians on the map. It should however be noted that until you get access to the post-completion-only cars, this is extremely difficult. It helps if you can find the Pedestrians Shown on Map power-up, of course.

Destroying your opponents is also encouraged because you might win the car they were driving. Each car in the game is unique —enabling a completely different playing style— so destroying more enemies means improving your arsenal and repertoire. There are well over two-dozen different cars available to drive in the original game.

Compared to the strict linearity of most racing games, the ability to drive anywhere in the city - power-ups like Pinball Car, Ultra Grip Tires and Moon Gravity pushing the definition of "anywhere" further than you might imagine - combined with the cartoony but consistent physics engine (the Instant Handbrake even works in mid-air and the Solid Granite Car will save you a lot of repair costs) make Carmageddon quite memorable.

Four installments were eventually released, although by the time of the third one, games of this specific genre were already quite prolific. The latest game in the series, Carmageddon: Reincarnation, was released in April 2015 after a Sequel Gap of over a decade.

The first game is usually regarded as a Spiritual Adaptation to the infamous cult film Death Race 2000.

Carmageddon provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Achilles' Heel: Many larger cars (or other vehicles) have certain weak points which can destroy the car instantly when hit.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: ED 101. He blew a fuse and went psycho.
  • Animesque: What sets TDR 2000 apart from the previous games is how it seems to be inspired by Cyber Punk animes. The game takes place in a Dystopian Cyber Punk future, the residence all appear rather Animesque in terms of fashion sense (even sporting eccentric hair colours) and this is further evident in two playable vehicles: The Mecha, a weaponized Itasha, and The Machine, a vehicular cyborg body 'driven' by a man named Tetsuo.
  • Armor Is Useless: Zig Zagged in the second game. Getting more armor makes it a lot harder for the opponents to raze your car from direct damage, to the point where getting hit by even the Big Dump won't bend your chassis a single centimeter. However, God help you if you run (or get knocked) too fast into any pointed edge of the world's geometrynote , as the armor value doesn't affect the chances of your car getting split in half, which usually gets you wasted. This, combined with the increase in the average vehicle's speed later in the game, means that even as your armor gets stronger, your chances of getting wasted also become paradoxically higher.
  • Autobots, Rock Out!: The original game's Redbook Audio features instrumental versions of several Fear Factory songs, played by Fear Factory themselves, while Carmageddon 2 features music from Iron Maiden and Sentience. TDR 2000 features a blend of hip-hop, rock and metal songs, and Reincarnation brings back a few of Fear Factory's songs from the first game, but a vast majority of its soundtrack is a combination of hard rock and heavy metal songs composed by Maximum Sexy Pigeon and Morgue. The community generally agrees that Carmageddon's music greatly enhances the gameplay experience regardless of whichever game in the series is being referred to which, considering the almost-universally negative reception of TDR 2000, speaks volumes about how suitable The Power of Rock accompanies a vehicular slayfest.
  • Awesome, yet Impractical: Most supercar- or speed-based vehicles are this, either being very frail or hard to control, sometimes even both, although they usually look much better than sturdier, more practical counterparts. Considering the fact that Carmageddon is primarily a vechicular combat game with a lot of Car Fu, it is much more practical to use or save up and then purchase one of the slower but stronger vehicles and spend races wrecking other drivers instead of completing time consuming laps with something that gets wrecked easily.
  • Ax-Crazy: The entire cast. In-game, any cop that sees the player breaking a "rule" (ie. driving above the speed limit, hitting a ped or hitting another cop) will go nuts trying to waste the player even if they run over peds or into other cops themselves.
  • Bald of Awesome / Bald of Evil: A member of Auto Scum, ED-101, Max Damage and Psycho Pitbull. All awesome, all bad to the bone.
  • Boring but Practical: Carmageddon 2 featured many rather unremarkable cars based on real-life 60's to 80's cars, but most of them are quite serviceable in a race despite costing fewer credits than the flashier, souped-up stuff. For example, the Slam Sedan may not be as badass as Otis' Caddy Fat Cat from the first game but it is easy to drive, pretty robust and can dish out hurt.
  • Bowdlerise: The first game saw versions replacing pedestrians with robots or zombies. A censored version of the Nintendo 64 port even has dinosaurs!
  • Canon Discontinuity: The official site for the reboot has a history section. Under the entry for Carmageddon 3: TDR 2000 is "We don't talk about this" accompanied by a picture of a flaming poo. Or the Nosebleed Pack for that matter.
  • Car Fu: One way of winning the match is by repeatedly smashing your car into an opponent's car to destroy them. As mentioned above, you'll want to do this for a chance of winning said cars.
  • Chunky Salsa Rule: In Carmageddon 2, if your car gets bifurcated from hitting a sharp edge, you lose the race instantly. To make it worse, armor points do not protect you from this in any way. Given the number of buildings and road barricades in each race, it is quite easy to drive (or get driven) into a sharp edge in the level geometry and lose even without being overconfident on how "sturdy" the player's selected vehicle is.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: AI-driven vehicles do not always drive; as long as they are out of the player's visual range, they are randomly moved around the map. This is quite noticeable when racing, as AI opponents which should supposedly be some distance behind may suddenly appear ahead on a head-on collision course. The manual even justifies this as an excuse to waste them.
  • Cool Car: The whole lot of them, although this ranges across different types. There are those mundane cars which are reasonably priced and works well, supercars which are pretty good racers but get squished easily, SUVs and the later big trucks which can take a beating and inflict pain, although that's what they're good at only, and the numerous interesting cars which serve no real purpose other than looking pretty interesting.
  • Cool Plane: The Supastuka in the second game, although its Awesome, but Impractical. The beta used to have "Birdy" — a Cessna with clipped wings and a large bloodied propellor to drive into people. It was scrapped in the release version.
  • Couch Gag: Inverted. In the first game, a different, humorous message, usually on the subject of the difference between this game and reality, appears every time you choose to quit the game.
  • Crapsack World: Most possibly the main theme of the games. Most noticeable in the third game.
  • Creepy Mortician: A pair of undertaker twins as one of the opponents.
  • Cyber Punk: The third game seems to be this. In The Slums and Hi Rise levels, cyber punk features such as holographic billboards are an abundance. Even the pedestrians seem to be all cyber punk'd.
    • Two characters from the first game and it's expansion seem to be fans of this: Mech Maniac (driver of Grunge Buster) and Su Borg (driver of Doozer).
  • Demoted to Extra: Die Anna. She starts off as one of the two selectable player characters in C1/SP, returns as a mid-game opponent in C2 and never returned in TDR 2000. Hopefully the reboot will see her return as a Player Character.
  • Drives Like Crazy: The entire point of the series.
  • Epic Flail: The "Wow! A Mutant Tail Thing!" powerup from Carmageddon 2 spawns a large spiked ball attached to the back of the player's vehicle by a short chain. It is primarily used for hitting peds (which would cause a special message to appear every time you kill a ped with it), but it also has a nasty side-effect of affecting the handling of the car in addition to being a self-waste option if the player runs over it while Pinball Mode is active.
  • Expy: Max Damage is clearly the game's counterpart of Needles Kane a.k.a Sweet Tooth. While not a Monster Clown, he's equally Ax-Crazy, is a Recurring Character (so as his car) and is also the game's Mascot.
    • A lot of the cars in TDR 2000 are expies of cars from past games.
  • Dummied Out: The "Timer Frozen!" and "Timer Thaw!" are explicitly labelled as powerups in the first game's manual, and they still exist in Carmageddon 2, but they never spawn on maps and are only accessible via Cheat Mode. Given this, it is possible that they were dummied out just before the game went gold.
  • Follow the Leader: A Russian game, Armageddon Riders, tries this but with more emphasis on racing.
  • Fragile Speedster: Throughout the series, Vlad's cars tend to be the fastest, although they're frail and terrible at cornering.
  • Giant Space Flea from Nowhere: The "Trucking Hell" mission in C2, where Psycho Pitbull has followed you out from the quarry in the Big Dump with the intent of killing you for who knows why. Fortunately there's a Solid Granite Car power up right next to the lamp post that's in front of your starting position.
    • The mission description is "It has escaped. Kill it." Then the mission starts, and there's this massive mining dump truck roaring right at you.
  • Glass Cannon: Some cars can be this, being able to waste opponents easily but can also get itself wasted just as easily. The Big Dump in C2 is a good example, being capable of wasting every other car in the game but even a small collision with a wall can waste it.
  • Hot Pursuit: In the first and third games, police cars will be parked in certain spots and will proceed to chase and ram you if they notice you doing anything reckless. This includes driving past them at 80 M.P.H. (60 is fine), running over pedestrians, or striking their vehicle. Naturally they don't care if it's an AI car causing the mayhem though. In the second game, the special race in the last group, Bruise Brothers, 12 Copcars will be chasing you. You have to wreck them all before the timer runs out in order to win.
  • Hyper-Destructive Bouncing Ball: One of Carmageddon's infamous powerups is called "Pinball Mode", which causes every movable 3D object in the game to ricochet off other 3D objects (including the ground) upon impact, usually at a significantly higher speed. This can result in trashing the set as things like vehicles, lamp-posts and traffic lights in the original game and, from Carmageddon 2 onwards, other miscellaneous 3D objects such as peds, fences, containers, and even F-14 Tomcats get knocked off and sent bouncing and flying in all directions at speeds high enough to send other objects bouncing and flying around likewise.
  • Idiosyncratic Difficulty Levels: With many Black Comedy jokes on them.
  • Infinity+1 Sword: The original Carmageddon gives us the Suppressor on the Rank 9 race, Blood on the Rooftops. This is a one-of-a-kind armoured APC that only appears in this race and is exceedingly difficult to waste and immensely powerful—it is described in the manual as "something with the dimensions and weight of a small house but which has the performance of a fighter plane" and can easily ragdoll any other unlockable vehicle the player can get, even with all Level 5 APO upgrades equipped, and No Sell nearly any impact on it bar collisions when the Pinball Mode powerup is active or driving into enough mines to waste any other vehicle several times over. However, if the player is able to waste the Suppressor, such as via high-speed collisions while the Solid Granite Car powerup is active, it is automatically unlocked for the player to use, and it will thereafter become the player's answer to everything they want to wreck or kill for the very same reasons that make it a nightmare to waste.
  • Joke Character:
    • From the first game, Vlad's Annihilator and OK Stimpson's Fraud Broko come into mind here, although there are others. The former is a ridiculously fast dragster that is almost impossible to turn and very easy to waste, and the latter is an SUV with such bouncy suspension, it tends to flip over every time it gets hit. The mobile ports remove the jelly suspension from the Fraud Broko, but makes the Annihilator go so fast, it does wheelies every time it hits full acceleration from a standing start, making an already impossible-to-drive vehicle even more impossible to drive.
    • From Carmageddon 2, there's the Bugga, Harvester, Jetcar and Supastuka. The Bugga can't hit hard, gets wasted very easily—most of time, it wastes itself—is not fast enough to be a proper racing vehicle, and is pink. The Harvester, despite being strong, has rear wheel steering and an obscenely wide front that makes it impossible to turn tight and narrow corners. The Jetcar suffers the same cornering issues as the Annihilator, but complements it with a sloped front that tends to send every vehicle trying to ram it head-on flying into the air. The Supastuka is a plane on the ground. To scale. Complete with wings. Which tend to clip lamp-posts due to their width and tangle the entire vehicle up in one of the puniest, most avoidable objects in the entire game.
    • The Specter in TDR 2000 is when you take the Bugga, give it a speed boost and a trike configuration and 100 times the frustration of driving the damn thing.
    • The Wheel. It's very poor center of gravity causes it to constantly bob about, making it impossible to gain speed. It also tends to veer to one side and end up spinning out of control.
  • The Juggernaut: Carmageddon 2's Big Dump is the apotheosis of this trope. It's a gigantic dump truck several times the size of most of the other vehicles, capable of plowing through everything else in the game... usually without losing speed. And in order to unlock it, you have to kill it. It even starts the level driving right at you, and will kill you outright if it connects.
    • Although the cost of it is more than the entire game would cost you to play. It costs 8,800,000 credits. You could spend that on upgrades and snatch one of the best vehicles in the game, Abba Cab for about 1,750,000. Beat the game and unlock everything anyway. You'll spend more time earning it, than just beating the game as the game doesn't take long. Unless you cheat. Even then a fully upgraded top tier car is likely better as they are faster, kill just fine (even Big Dump will get squashed in a direct confrontation), also they are stronger against wall collisions and can move the level better. Still fun to play as Big Dump though.
    • The Loggerhead is a cheaper version of the Big Dump which also appears as a regular opponent in the later stages.
      • There's also the Master Mine in TDR 2000, Big Dump's Expy. Unfortunately its a Joke Character, being very slow and having very high ground clearance that even small cars can drive underneath it unscathed.
  • Kick the Dog: More like run over it at 200mph+...
  • Lawyer-Friendly Cameo
    • C2 has the Mach 13, which is obviously the Mach 5 in different colours.
    • One of the criticism TDR 2000 received was how a number of cars were outright ripped out from movies, TV shows, even custom cars in Real Life. The Enforcer and the SXE Blackhatch are the most prominent ones; they're none other than the Yellow and Black Interceptors from Mad Max respectively (Torus Games had the Mad Max license at the time). Others include Knave (KITT), Husky (Red Tomato, but in reversed colours), Drag-Ghoul (Dragula), The Boss (Gary Myers' 1964 Mustang). The expansion adds in Pogo (Mr Bean's Mini Cooper, but as a cabriolet) and Jaws (this truck). They also intended to add in The Monster, Frankenstein's car from Death Race 2000 while they still had the license. It was eventually scrapped.
  • Lethal Joke Character: Even the weakest, most worthless vehicles in the game can become potentially deadly with upgraded APO. And lets not get down to the countless powerups like Sold Granite Car and Acme Damage Magnifier which can give these same weak vehicles a much needed (though temporary) boost in offensive and defence, enabling them to Curb-Stomp Battle things like freakin' Big Dump.
  • Made of Plasticine: The pedestrians splatter gruesomely if you so much as touch them. It is just barely possible to drive slowly enough to merely injure one. No pedestrian collision deals any damage to your car.
  • Monowheel Mayhem: The Wheel from the third game. It is a cage-like monowheel armed with two giant axes.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Screwie Lewie's car is a "Supercar/Monster Truck/Light Aircraft/Mole Machine" vehicle - for the discerning psycho. It also perfectly incorporates the characteristics of each of these machines, making it a very balanced car.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: The series is notable for parodying real life people and characters from other fiction but perhaps the most blatant of them is O.K Stimpson, driver of the Fraud Broko. He is obviously a thinly-veiled parody of O.J Simpson and his vehicle is a Ford Bronco (albeit a modified one), the same vehicle O.J droved during police's low-speed pursuit of him. His description even references the incident, coupled with a small Take That.
    "He seems a friendly kind of guy, but appearances can deceive, and the way he guns that 4x4 along you’d think he was on the run!"
  • Offscreen Teleportation: Opponents will warp around to random places on the map... but not if you have the map screen open. On some mazelike levels driving with the map open (using the tiny viewport at the top) is the only way to catch that last cowardly opponent in a reasonable amount of time.
    • Also, if you push an opponent into deep water it wrecks him, but if he drives into it himself, he teleports back to solid ground just like the player would. Giving the opponent a little nudge on his way to Davy Jones' locker can make all the difference.
  • Police State: The last levels of the third game take place in such a place. Everywhere you look is just Scenery Porn.
  • Portmantitle
  • Psycho Electro: Stella Stunna, who connects herself to the battery of her car for an "extra buzz". More annoyingly, in the first game her sportscar comes with a built-in Electro Bastard Ray that automatically kills pedestrians in a wide radius, which would be great if you could steal her car during the campaign but you can't. She will however gladly zap every pedestrian you are about to run over in the first thirty seconds of the race, causing you to run out of time and lose. Cue throwing your mouse through the monitor.
  • Punny Name: Damn near everyone.
    • More like everything. Opponent names, their cars, the level's names. Almost everything is a reference to something/someone.
  • Ramming Always Works: You will most likely finish the game in this manner than by racing.
  • Rice Burner: The afore mentioned 'The Mecha' which is actually a Ford Ka town car. Not a very good performance car since it is slow but does handle well.
    • The Street Machine form the second game is a wacky example. It has speakers in the boot so large that the boot lid can't close. Driving the car is also like driving with the 'Grip-o-matic Tires' powerup permanently active. It gets worse when you actually have that powerup active.
  • RPG Elements: In the first game, you first had to select your Player Character who both drive cars that suit different play styles (Max's Eagle is good for thrashing opponents while Die's Hawk is better at racing). As you race and cause general mayhem, you rack up credits which can then be used to buy non-stealworthy cars and universal upgrades that help to improve armor, power and offense (APO). You can also earn some of the better stealworthy cars if you wreck them a couple of times.
  • Series Mascot: Max Damage, who is the most notable character to appear in every Carmageddon game and appears on the box covers.
  • Slasher Smile: The box covers.
  • Sequel Difficulty Spike: The Missions on the second game, which the lead artist admit that were late additions which he didn't test enough for people that unlike him hadn't become experts - "And so I stand before you, guilty of making a game too challenging for most mere mortals. It's a guilt I'll carry with me to my grave."
  • Spoonerism: Cunning Stunt Bonus
  • Super Not-Drowning Skills: A rare racing game example.
  • Taken for Granite: Actually not a negative power-up by any standard means, the appropriately named Solid Granite Car power-up turns the player's vehicle into an unyielding mass of death. Does not significantly increase your own defense, but even the biggest trucks will bounce right off you. You however will be able to uproot trees, take out street lamps, and swat away any other vehicle. Even the slightest pressure created by pushing a car between you and a wall typically means instant death for the unlucky racer. In single player modes, your car model does not change, so it's difficult to tell if your wheels also become granite, but you are able to drive as unhindered as you were before the power-up.
  • Tank Goodness: The King Merc and the Suppressor in C1 and TDR 2000. The Flower Plower, the bonus car in C2, leans more towards Joke Character though. The Squad Cars in C1 may count, being standard issue APCs which are nearly as good as the Suppressor. Da Panzer in TDR 2000 is the series' most literal example. You even get to gather tank shells and shoot them in the last Military Zone mission.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: Cripple a car, then push it into a field of Exploding Barrels. Grab a Dismemberfest powerup, gently nudge pedestrians to remove their limbs, then watch the torsos flop around pathetically. Trap an opponent in a confined space, enable Pinball Mode, and allow him to smash himself to bits against the walls. Pin an opponent against a freeway divider, get the upgrades for stone car and gripped tires (by cheating, unless you're really lucky), turn the map on so the don't go anywhere, then ram them at top speed. They'll literally fly off the map. The opportunities are only limited by the player's sociopathy.
  • Weaponized Car: Majority of the cars are armed with countless melee weapons such as spike bumpers, wheel blades, buzzsaws, drill bits, etc.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: The censored version of the first game revolves on this, which carried into the rest of the series. Solar flares have turned 80% of the world's population into zombies...and Carmageddon is mankind's solution against this threat.

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