Carmageddon: Max Damage is an updated version of Carmageddon: Reincarnation*, which was originally funded by a Kickstarter campaign and released in 2015. Max Damage was developed by (mostly) the same team who made the original Carmageddon and was first released in 2016, and is basically the same game as Carmageddon: Reincarnation but with better graphics and a few small changes to the game structure. The levels are mostly the same, although there are some new additions and tweaks here and there.
Carmageddon: Max Damage is a modern re-imagining of Carmageddon, with the same basic gameplay, but lots of new features, new cars, new tracks, and (old) crude jokes. The aim is to play through an episodic career, with a number of levels per episode (sometimes three; sometimes more), in order to unlock subsequent ones. Unlocking new episodes also unlocks new cars, new opponents, and other new features.
Each level in an episode has a theme and an objective related to that theme. So, for example, one level might be “Classic Carma“, which means that you can complete it by doing one of three things: 1. Completing a number of laps by driving through a series of checkpoints, 2. wrecking all opponent cars, or 3. killing all pedestrians. Another level might be “Ped Chase“, which means running down a certain number of designated pedestrians before an opponent does. Another might be “Checkpoint Stampede“, which means driving through a number of spawned checkpoints before anyone else does. And so on. Completing objectives in each level earns you credits which you can use to buy car upgrades. Like previous Carmageddon games you can wreck opponent cars during races to ‘steal’ them and make them playable from your own garage.
In-car cockpit views are also back in Carmageddon: Max Damage (they were missing in Carmageddon: Reincarnation), but they’re not very useful or aesthetically pleasing. Which is a pity because I liked them in the original Carmageddon, but they haven’t been as good since.
Graphically, Carmageddon: Max Damage is very good, with decent lighting effects, bloom (which can be switched off), fire and explosions, tire marks, blood and gore, and excellent 3D models for the cars and environments. Music is similar to previous games – a mixture of heavy metal and contemporary dance music – and if you don’t like it you can easily mute it.
Gameplay-wise, Carmageddon: Max Damage is a lot of fun if you like driving games that focus on mayhem and destruction, which is what the Carmageddon series is all about. If you want straight racing then you’ve likely come to the wrong place. Opponent cars will harass you during races and try to destroy you by ramming you, which can be annoying. And as the episodes increase the cars become tougher and the hazards more frequent. So you’re supposed to toughen up your car as you progress so you can survive later races.
Carmageddon: Max Damage is arguably the best game in the Carmageddon series because it takes what was good about all the previous Carmageddon games and expands upon them quite a bit. There are 16 different episodes and 31 different playable cars to unlock, and the game has some serious re-play value – especially when you factor in multiplayer mode. If you want a more ‘retro’ experience then the first Carmageddon might be more your thing.
*= Note that Carmageddon: Reincarnation is no longer available to buy, since Max Damage is an enhanced version of it.