Most driving games expect you to race around a circuit several times, staying on the track, avoiding other cars and generally behaving properly. Not Carmageddon II. Just like its predecessor, this game gives the driver total freedom. You can, if you wish, drive around the circuit and race against other cars. Or you can drive on the pavement and mow down pedestrians, scoring points for the artistic style of your collisions.
Because of the time taken by the BBFC to award an age rating to Carmageddon II, SCI has released a ‘zombie’ version of the game in the UK. This means that instead of pedestrians with red blood, you can only splat zombies with green blood. But since there is a patch available on numerous Web sites to convert the zombie version to the pedestrian version, utter gore is just a download away. Even in zombie mode, though, on a scale of one to politically correct, Carmageddon II: Carpocalypse Now barely scrapes a zero. A simple head-on collision with a zombie will net you 200 points, but you’ll get a far higher score if you scrape his body along a wall, slice him in half with your car’s door or swipe his feet from under him during a handbrake turn. And it’s not just human zombies that you can annihilate, since cute little dogs and other animals also feature in the game.
If one scenario’s blood-letting becomes mundane, try driving on one of the other 29 levels. Once they’re completed, there are missions to undertake, and you have a choice of 40 cars, each with its own brutal characteristics. There are weapons, too. Some of the power-ups you can collect include the flame-thrower and repulsificator, as well as sticky tyres for climbing up walls, free damage repairs and temporary invulnerability. Drive under the influence of drugs or drink and see how it affects your vision and co-ordination, offisher, or drive underwater to track down the last few zombies.
What really matters is that the game is fun to play. The cars look, sound and feel powerful, some of the noises are hysterical and the graphics – which chug along a bit unless you’ve got a fast PC – are pretty polished. If all that’s not enough, there’s a sound-track by Iron Maiden to put you in just the right mood.