Car chaos returns with Carmageddon for iOS

Carmageddon is a new iOS release from Stainless Games. It’s a port of a PC game from the late ’90s, which has itself been recently been rereleased on digital distribution platform GOG.com, and which has a Kickstarter-funded official sequel on the way. Carmageddon for iOS, referred to as “Carmageddon funsize” by the developer, is available now from the App Store and is free for a single day in appreciation of the many Kickstarter backers’ generosity, after which it will become a paid app with additional in-app purchases to unlock content early.

Carmageddon is ostensibly a racing game, but the reality is a little more complex. Players drive cars, yes, and it is possible to progress through the game by simply completing laps of various courses, but this is actively discouraged at every opportunity. It is also possible to win each of the game’s 36 different events by destroying all of the opposing cars or running over every pedestrian on the map. These latter two options are actively encouraged through time and in-game currency bonuses — and in fact it is almost impossible to complete most of the races in a traditional lap-based manner without causing at least a little chaos along the way to build up a bank of time.

Carmageddon’s 36 events take place across 11 different environments, each of which is a large, “open world” themed map which players may drive around freely. The “course,” such as it is, is clearly marked via both road signs and an in-game map, but the player has absolutely no obligation to follow this and may instead wreak havoc wherever they wish. The computer-controlled opponents will generally gravitate towards the area the player is in, and there is no way to “lose” the race — the only means of failure is through either running out of time or having one’s car destroyed.

Carmageddon makes use of a semi-realistic physics-based driving model. Cars have a realistic feeling of “weight” about them, and much like a real car, when driving flat out at top speed they do not go around corners very well. The player has several different control schemes at their disposal to attempt to tame the various drivable beasts in the game, ranging from digital left/right and accelerate/decelerate controls to analog and tilt variations. Controls may be mixed and matched between analog, digital and tilt for steering and acceleration separately, and any selected on-screen controls may be freely repositioned to fit the player’s needs.

Additional gestures provide access to specific functions — tapping the car damage icon in the corner of the screen repairs the vehicle using earned currency, for example, while a two-finger tap on a car that has got itself stuck or landed on its roof recovers it, again using in-game currency. Swiping from the left of the screen brings up the map, while swiping from the right brings up the Instant Replay interface, from which players may edit a short movie of their most recent carnage and then either save it or upload it to YouTube. In all cases, a promotional splash screen is added to the end of the video.

Carmageddon’s visuals have been significantly improved from the PC original. Car models appear to have higher polygon counts, the screen resolution is higher, the frame rate is smoother and the lighting is considerably better. Backgrounds and environments still look rather dated, meaning this isn’t the best looking game on iOS by any means, but the speed and fluidity more than make up for that. The menu interface between races has also been completely redesigned for touch controls rather than simply adapting the PC original’s mouse-driven menus.