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Carmageddon TDR 2000 Review

publisher: SCi
developer: Torus Games
genre: Racing

PII-266, 32MB RAM, 210MB HDD, 8MB graphics card
ESRB rating: M

release date: Oct 10, 00
» All About Carmageddon TDR 2000 on ActionTrip

September 22, 2000

OK, so we got a new Carmageddon game... You remember the first two parts of the game, naturally? When they came out in '97 and '98, they didn't only bring a race with combat elements, but they also brought so much blood and brutality that it made Quake and Duke Nukem 3D look like "kids" genre games. It was, and still is, the only race sim. that would've given your Bloodulator a hard time, spitting out all that blood and guts! (PCXL, come back!) The people over at Sales Curve Interactive (SCi) knew exactly what they were doing. The "shock factor" determined the popularity of the game and earned those developers a bunch of money.

There were a few misconceptions about Carmageddon TDR 2000, in the early stages of its development. Many though that it was an expansion pack to Carmageddon 2... Instead, TDR 2000 is a totally new (stand-alone) game in the Carmageddon serial, with several differences to its predecessors. Right on the start, SCi made a great leap, and left the job of developing the game to an unknown Australian software company, called, Torus Games. SCi took on the job of publishing and battling the public "moral", and its champion, British Board of Film Classification (BBFC).

The first thing about Carmageddon TDR 2000 that will catch your eye is that there aren't any casual pedestrians, just some weird-looking zombies! Where did these zombies come from? Well, the 21st Century began in the worst possible way, even worse than the way the 20th ended...The ultra-rich have come to dominate the entire planet, and gradually, they moved away from the crime-ridden cesspits that humanity's cities had become, into segregated towns called 'Subates'. For the people in the ghettos, outside these towns, the future was very bleak... The economic, and social gap between the two classes caused great unrest. After the invasion of one Subate, the Subatons ordered their private security forces to launch a tactical nuclear strike. You can guess what happened next...Millions of innocents were slaughtered. Fallout and radiation poisoning plagued the survivors, no longer classed as human. Madness was endemic with no hope for reprieve, and tales soon began to speak of the walking dead. Since the nuclear strike was not totally successful, as a last ditch measure the security forces decided to isolate the ghettos by building huge walls around them, creating city-sized prisons. Is it possible to escape this doomed world? Your only chance is a car, and some no-holds-barred, fearless driving...

As stupid as it sounds, this is the game's basic plot. It's depicted in the beginning of the game by a marvelously rendered intro, after which TDR 2000 chucks you onto the course that let's you express all your destructo-sadistic tendencies. But because of the mutated zombies, there is not a dribble of blood?! At least, not in the form you are used to... The players will get to spill some green zombie ooze, instead... What? Not gory enough for ya? You sadists! Think of it this way-the game is now rated for players of age 15+.

One of the more pleasant attributes of TDR 2000 that you'll notice after the initial shock/dissapointment of having to run over zombies, is the now, much-improved graphic code. The Australians did their best, and developed a brand new 3D engine. Everybody that played the first two games should instantly notice the difference --- smoke, sparks, dynamic lighting, car shadows, and several other features that generated the entire look of the game. The models consist of more polys; the environments are somewhat richer... Unfortunately, I harbor negative emotions towards the Carmageddon serial --- it was always a step ahead of my PC. The first Carmaggedon was slow, and then came Carmaggedon 2, which really brought me down to earth with some 15-20 FPS (and I was so proud of my new nVidia card and the speed with witch most of games played on my PC). Anyway, life goes on, and even though I've upgraded my rig, I can't relax and enjoy (?) the thrill of a bloodthirsty ride. I find it hard to believe the developers' claim that the game runs twice as fast as the prequel, regardless of hefty visual improvements. Haven't noticed any speed increase while I was playing... I'm not saying that the engine's any worse because of that fact, I'm just saying that Carmageddon has a setting of wide-open terrain with many interactive objects (and that takes toll on your hardware). Perhaps the cities that you drive around in-game are smaller than the ones in the previous two games, which creates an impression of more detailed (richer) graphics. Besides the "usual" pedestrians, benches, crates, signs, and other vehicles, the game now includes bridges, cranes, the big King Kong... etc.

All cars have been carefully designed. A very good damage model in Carmageddon 2 is now improved, which makes this arcade racer possibly the one with the best damage model of all (and that includes many racing simulations) --- parts (bumpers, hoods, hubcaps) fall off after collision. Conversely, the car physics are not too great. Even though each model behaves differently, none of the cars I drove left a memorable impression on me. When it comes to handling and steer-ability, cars tend to be too "easy" or in other situations too difficult. If you try driving in reverse, and steer a little to the left, you have a 180° turn. Why is it so hard to achieve the same thing when going forward? You can't do it even if you simultaneously turn the wheel and pull the handbrake, which should do the trick. To match this, TDR 2000 supports even worse camera angles. Even though there are many Cams to choose from, not even one of them proved too functional. On the contrary, some of them are totally useless! For example, the Spin Cam, or even the default Carnage Cam sucks...

Apart from multiplayer, for which SCi guys thought would be interesting to players, because it consists of 6 semi-interesting network games (Knockout Race, Free For All, Death Race, Fox 'n' Hounds, Hot Nut and British Bulldogs...), TDR 2000 will feature 2 Single-player gaming modes. Free Play mode that consists of 30 races across nine different environments and Campaign mode that consists of 30 races across nine different environments that have 25 individual missions. The missions are very interesting so I enjoyed playing the Campaign Mode. Whoever played Driver or Midtown Madness knows what's it like. In the beginning of each mission, you receive mission objectives, which you have to finish within a certain time frame. The objectives usually consist of rushing from one part of the town to the other, collecting parts for a bomb, rocket, or conducting sabotage by improving booby traps, and so on, and so forth... By the way, it is recommendable to avoid cops, waste pedestrians, collect credit, and other useful power-ups: Afterburners, Flamethrowers, Mines, Bombs, and Frozen-Opponents...etc. As well as weird ones, like: Bouncy-Bouncy for jumping, or the unpredictable Pinball-Bouncy. Earned credits can buy you new cars, or improve or repair the current one (armor, power, offensive).

The game's AI is highly commendable. The thing that I liked most is that on the streets of the Zombievilles, the traffic is conducted normally, in accordance with basic regulations. The pedestrians, (i.e. zombies), are smart and much more aggressive than those innocent, scared victims that were so easy to wipe your windshields with in the previous installments. The zombies can make and use Molotov Cocktails, and will bravely charge you with their sticks (And you call that "solid AI"?! Charging cars with sticks?! Gee! - Ed.) As before, in situations critical for them, they will grab walls and avoid getting run over, or impaled on the spikes on your car, or something even sharper, or more exotic... Often, you'll see them grouping, and if they are of the panicky sort, it'll be in places safe from cars. But the more aggressive ones will be looking for payback...

So, there is another reason for the game to be more suitable for younger audience; not only are you not running down innocent, helpless civilians, but you also have the evil mutants that are bent on taking over the world! They behave like Vandals (Shame on them! -ED.) and therefore they should be fought to save humanity!

Even though Carmageddon TDR 2000 shows progress over its two predecessors, there is nothing terribly new that would knock old Carmageddon fans out of their socks. The most important ingredient, the shock factor, remains with the first two games...

UPDATE: Blood, blood, blood... OK, this whole article was based on the European (UK) version of the game. However, if you buy TDR2000 in the rest of Europe (outside Germany and France), or world (US), for that matter, you will have the "pleasure" of running over flesh-and-blood-pedestrians. But, in the first case, all you can do is get used to Zombietown, or start searching the net for an (unofficial) blood patch.


7.1   Good

Improved AI and graphics compared to the first two parts, nice intro movie, missions...

Nothing new or shocking to public, as in first part, bad playability, combined with bad camera view, slow menu and slow level loading.



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