Fast cars, burning tires, explosive materials, and a lot of adrenaline – all of these elements are combined in a small racing game called Carnage. Are you brave enough to try your luck on the racetrack?
The make of car is too pixilated to be easily identified - except that it's fast. I'm going to go with the standard Formula One car, as shown on the logo screen. Tracks in this game are shown from the top-down perspective. Each stage fits on a single screen, so no scrolling effects are needed, and you can see exactly where each one of your opponents is. Your adversaries may not be the smartest ones, but they know how to drive. If one of them gains too much of a lead – you can forget about winning. There is only one way to qualify for the next race: you need to be number one on the track.
The overall difficulty level of the game is not very high, but one minor mistake can lead to you losing the race. It can be frustrating when you are in the lead, and you bump into someone on a loop and lose your position. Some of these situations can be avoided, as the game offers some non-legal ways to achieve the lead position: You can use nitro-acceleration to outrun your opponents, or place a mine on the track.
There are sixteen tracks in the game, but I have to admit that I did not manage to see them all. There are two kinds: classic circuits, and two-way roads with loops on each end. Each kind has its pros and cons. If the track is classic, the car which gets to the lead position after the first lap is the most likely to win the race, as he can place mines to slow other drivers. The mines blow up after a set time, which is much shorter than the average lap time. If you miss your chance on the first lap – you will probably not advance to the next race. The other type of track is more complex, as the cars can meet going in different directions. In this case anything can happen; mines and collisions should be avoided at all costs, because not much is needed to shuffle the drivers on the leader list.
Between races your car can be upgraded with your winnings. You can improve steering, acceleration, or speed. The speed upgrade is noticeable, but as to the steering upgrade, I haven’t noticed any difference in handling. In the shop you can also re-supply your mines and nitro stock, as these elements are fixed in number for the whole tournament. You need to use them wisely or pay the price.
Almost nothing can be set up in the game options. You can choose single- or two-player, keyboard or joystick, and redefine keyboard keys. The last option is not saved after leaving the game, so you will be probably be resetting the keys every time you start the game, as the default ones (X C – directions, V to accelerate) are not very comfortable.
Overall Carnage is a really nice game, and can keep you in front of the monitor - “just one more race” - for some time. Graphics are distinct and although the sounds during the race are nothing special, they aren't annoying. If you do not get mad after a few failures you will be able to judge whether my score of 4 for this game is well deserved.