May 14, 2020

Carmageddon And The Decline of Car Combat Genre

Vehicular combat games (or Car combat games) are a thing of the past nowadays. Relics, if you will. Carmageddon sure belongs to this particular genre, and so does the Twisted Metal series. Two of the best known names in the genre.

But for now, we’re focusing solely on Carmageddon, since we do have it on sale here at IndieGala. The Carmageddon sale ends very shortly, so hurry up and stock up on this piece of nostalgia. You’re going to need it in the constant Coronavirus lock-downs and the never-ending social isolation.

But before we get to the point of the entire post, and mention some of the most known examples of the genre….

Let’s take a step back. 

What in fact is a vehicular combat genre?

Or car combat genre, as it is also known. Furthermore, the primary objectives of the game-play include vehicles, armed with weapons, destroying other vehicles. In fact, the weapons range from machine guns, lasers, missiles, rocket launchers, and chainsaws. All the way to flamethrowers, pipe bombs, and even hand grenades.

Furthermore, the players may also unlock hidden vehicles, while the games may also include racing themes. But, not always.

However, the vehicular combat games are not solely limited to cars. There are plenty of other vehicles in the games as well. For instance: aircraft, boats, ships and submarines, motorcycles, tanks and even mech robots. While on the subject of mech robots… Not that long ago, we already had a fun post about mech inspired robots movies, here at IndieGala.

So, by all means… Feel free to snoop around and check it out.

Carmageddon

Carmageddon is a nice blast from the past

Developed by Stainless Games and first released in 1997, Carmageddon is a true retro classic. One of the well known examples of the vehicular combat genre for sure. And the most fun. The player races a vehicle against a number of other computer-controlled competitors. There are different types of settings in which the game can be played. For instance urban areas like a city, a mine or heavy industrial area.

Furthermore, the player gets to complete a race in three different ways. By completing (or driving) the course of the game. Wrecking the other race cars is another way of winning, or just by killing the pedestrians. Yup. That’s a thing here. Carmageddon includes thirty six race tracks in total, and eleven different locations.

Carmageddon and the decline of the vehicular combat genre

It seems like the 90’s were the golden era of the vehicular combat genre. It’s in that decade that the most successful games appeared on the market. Games like Vigilante 8, Twisted Metal, Destruction Derby. But what sets Carmageddon apart from the rest was a different game-play.

The game awarded the player points for killing pedestrians on the streets. And due to the violent nature of the game, Carmageddon was even banned (for a while) in several countries. Bad publicity is good publicity nonetheless.

Right? Well, in part.

While select number of video games became increasingly popular, the genre itself remained a very niche genre. In all honesty never really exploded in the mainstream culture and never got a much larger audience. Carmageddon remained a game with a very small but devoted following. But frankly nothing more than that.

It didn’t evolve much beyond the basic concept of the game. And eventually, the fans grew tired by the lack of diversity and creativity. Some might call it a missed opportunity, but the vehicular combat genre had plenty of potential.

Carmageddon

Carmageddon and the success of GTA 3

The vehicular combat genre (and Carmageddon to a certain extent) got crushed by the competition too. 

Most notably by Grand Theft Auto III. The 2001 game really set the tone and very high standards about how and action-adventure game should look like. And especially open-world type of a game. First of all, the 3D technology was a much welcomed addition to the feel of the game, while the animation of the characters was done through motion capture technology.

Suddenly, GTA 3 raised the bar not just in action-adventure games, but in the entire gaming industry. And the studios, developers or publishers that couldn’t keep up with the progress, were left out. Carmageddon was one of those casualties, and attributed to the decline on the entire genre.

Carmageddon and some of the best movies

Much like with the gaming industry, the movies that feature car combat are a niche too. Especially in Hollywood.

That’s why there are very few and very far in between to mention. Certainly there’s the aforementioned Death Race 2000. The movie that served as an inspiration for the developers of Carmageddon. No, I’m not going to mention the horrendous the 2008 remake here. It doesn’t deserve a mention, although it did feature some of my favorite actors. Most notably Ian McShane and Jason Clarke.

Mad Max franchise also comes to mind here. You know, since the developers were after the Mad Max license in the first place. You can choose any of the Mad Max movies, and you won’t be wrong. They’re pretty bad-ass. To a certain Duel – the directorial debut of Steven Spielberg is worth mentioning here and even the 90’s cult classic Dune Warriors. Gosh, David Carradine really loved the dystopian/post-apocalyptic movies, didn’t he?

And lastly, there’s the B-movie Death Racers. Which, again is inspired by the cult classic Death Race 2000. It’s a horrible movie for sure. And a bootlegged version of Death Race 2000, but I have to mention it.

Carmageddon

The movies had a similar fate

In the end, the films that belong to the vehicular combat genre had a similar fate as the video games. Only small number of films are made. But, the genre didn’t really survive in order to break into the mainstream. Much like with the video games, one might say, that they’re a niche genre as well.

One other problem is that they’re still tricky to make and fairly expensive. You need to wreck a lot of cars (props or otherwise). Not to mention there are not a lot of filmmakers that really know how to make them properly. Even in Hollywood.

Your thoughts

What are your thought about the Car Combat genre as a whole? Did you enjoy playing Carmageddon? And tell us about your favorite movies as well. We’d love to know all about them.

Hit that comment section then, and play on!

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