This game is in development and nothing should be considered “finished” yet. EVERYTHING is work in progress and subject to change. Changes will be influenced by your involvement in the game development; your bug reports, feedback, and suggestions. But remember! Expect bugs. Expect regular updates. Expect the unexpected. Expect the Spanish Inquisition. Please report bugs by using the form at the following link: carmageddon.com/Bugger. Get involved in forging the final feel of the game – visit the Forums and tell us what you think! www.carmageddon.com/CRdev. Thank you Carmafans!” – Note from developers on product page
Back in the late 1990s, there was a game called Carmageddon, which was a standard racing game except for the (at the time) edgy twist that you not only could run down pedestrians, but that you should for in-game benefits. This game, released just months prior to Grand Theft Auto, was notable not just for its excessive and casual violence, but for being well-received on PC and trashed on every other system for which it was released.
17 years later, original developer Stainless Games has returned to the series that put them on the map. Carmageddon: Reincarnation is a reimagining of this series for a whole new generation. It was released on March 27th through Steam Early Access. Translation: It’s currently in pre-Alpha and is pretty much an unplayable mess for an indeterminate amount of time.
To Stainless’s credit, they let you know not to expect much when you load up Carmageddon: Reincarnation, and not much is exactly what you get. After navigating the menus and getting a sense of what is promised in the final build, I made my way to Freeplay (AKA: The part that works). This mode consists of three zones where you are able to tear around in a race/destruction derby setting. Of course, pedestrians, pick-ups, and penguins litter the landscape. At this point, the game is looking like a mid-era PlayStation 1 game. On the other hand, the damage modeling for cars as well as the crash physics are showing some promise at this early stage.
I would be more forgiving of a lack of content if what was there were fun to play. The problem however is that the driving mechanics are abysmal; a perfect storm of poor handling and slow movement makes this game little more than an exercise in frustration. I suppose there is some fun to be had from running down pedestrians and such, but even that feels anachronistic and forced. Like Duke Nukem Forever, this game seems to be trying to tap into an id that no longer really exists amongst gamers. It’s not really considered transgressively funny to run down pedestrians for its own sake. It pains me to consider this ‘progress’, but gamers nowadays actually need some kind of reason for pedestrians to be randomly strewn about a racetrack. I worry that if this kind of thing is all Carmageddon: Reincarnation has up its sleeve, then it’s (pardon the pun) got a long, hard road ahead of it.
Let me be clear, I hope this game turns out to be a great throwback to an earlier era of PC gaming, when the act of driving over an NPC was the height of edginess. Based on where it is now though, how could anyone recommend buying it? If this were a free demo I would honestly suggest you sit back and wait until it’s either at least functional on the most basic level or has enough content to make it worth your time. To say you should spend $30 on it as-is, however? Well, if you believe in the franchise then go for it. As for anyone else, I’d wait until it’s a hell of a lot closer to being actually completed by any definition of the term.
Carmageddon: Reincarnation is currently available for $29.99 on Steam Early Access if you dare.