Retro evil

Apropos my previous mention of old games where you do bad things to people: If you've never played Carmageddon II, you really should.

Carmageddon II screenshot

Don't try to tell me that stuff like this happens in the racing games you usually play.

Every kid's used to running over old ladies in 3D these days, of course. But Carmageddon II came out in late 1998, before Grand Theft Auto had made it to (2D) instalment two. And I, and others, think it still holds up quite well today.

It's not, to be fair, a game for the precision car simulator enthusiast. Keyboard controls, a weird lunar-gravity feel, and very little reason to actually bother running through the checkpoints once you'd stacked up some spare time by killing pedestrians and another racer or two.

(There are timed challenge levels that actually force you to perform particular tasks before letting you at the next batch of levels. But you can always cheat past those.)

But despite the cartoonish physics, this actually is a simulator, of a sort. Driven and steered wheels affect car behaviour as they should, as you can see when a car's ridiculously smashed and bent and so can only drive in little circles. You can even get rear-wheel-steer and front-wheel-drive, if you drive the combine harvester.

You also don't have to perform contortions to get Carmageddon II to run on modern hardware. The game's still commercial software so you can't just (legally) download it, but once you've got it and patched it to v2.0 all you need to do is replace the carma2_hw.exe file with this further patch to make it run on Windows XP (and maybe Vista; I dunno).

And then you'll be in business, playing in Direct3D mode in a magnificent 640 by 480. 800 by 600 was possible, but only on 3dfx hardware, back when those cards were so powerful it was kind of ridiculous. Multiplayer requires the bad old IPX/SPX protocol, by the way.

You can take advantage of a modern graphics card by editing the data\options.txt file and changing the value on the "yon" line to 100 or more; that'll give you a much more distant view, so you'll be able to see further down the road, or a whole level at once when you're high up. Extending the view distance seems to hang the game occasionally when the view changes suddenly - like when you press the "recover" key or switch to the in-cockpit view - but that may just be because I'm using an unnecessarily high "yon" value.

People have also modded realistic looking cars into C2...

...and even turned it into a banger racing simulator. The low-polygon high-ridiculousness standard cars are perfectly adequate for starters, though.

To be honest, the only thing that irks me about unmodded Carmageddon II is the unfortunate fact that if you want to remove the dogs from the game, because you're cool with running over people and everything but deliberately whacking Fido goes a bit far, you can only do it by turning off all animals. That includes the far more amusing sheep, cows, moose and penguins. And the elephants, who're something of a challenge to kill.

Oh, and if you try to register your "new" copy of Carmageddon II, you'll fail.

I don't think I can submit this any more...

I wouldn't try clicking any of those buttons, if I were you.

Before you see that window, though, you get this one:

Carmageddon II's idea of my system specs

And, more amusingly, this one:

Carmageddon II registration requester

There's your retro game console collection guide, right there. Note the separate entries for the CDTV and the CD32, baby!

8 Responses to “Retro evil”

  1. Hypernova Says:

    Have you tried Breakneck(N.I.C.E.2)?

    It had loads of car modes and a great shootout mode with all kinds of weapons. The game play was surprisingly complex for it's day.

  2. moetop Says:

    Carmageddon II was a classic. Many hours and many laughs were spent playing multiplayer with friends.

    I find myself strangely interested in the music from the second video. It sounds like a Prodigy and Lords of Acid got together and made something.

  3. unfunk Says:

    Hrm... no RAM, and 2.72GB free on a 28.3MB hard drive?

    Methinks Dan is running a Quantum Computer of some sort...

  4. Daniel Rutter Says:

    I refer you to the column in which I explain some of the ways in which old computer capacity measurers can freak out when run on modern systems.

    (The "0 Bytes RAM" thing is a new one on me, though - presumably it results from one of these screw-ups, plus sanity checking that prevents the reported RAM amount being less than zero.)

  5. evilspoons Says:

    Oh man. I bought this game the moment I could get my hands on it... I still have the original CD and the manual somewhere. It was a bastard to get running on my Matrox Mystique video card, and with its lack of support for hardware alpha channels, among other things, it made the game a little bit frustrating (the in-car view looked like you were staring through a chessboard with all the black squares cut out). That said, I still love this game and wish its sequels were even half as good as it was.

  6. Falk Says:

    Quarantine > all other antisocial driving games.

    Every aspect of that game was so perfect, right down to abusing your fellow road users. You know, in addition to roasting them alive.

    Every time I drive a taxi in GTA, I hit "tab" in the hope it'll work.

  7. Daniel Rutter Says:

    I never played Quarantine or Quarantine II (nor am I about to try right now, on account of their DOS-ness), but I note that they're both available on Home of the Underdogs for free download.

  8. Matt Says:

    The freeware Truck Dismount is really very basic, and yet its amazing how entertaining it can be, trying to crush a man between a truck and a brick wall.

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