Gas Guzzlers: Combat Carnage
I’ll be honest for a moment…the last combat racing game I remember playing religiously was “Twisted Metal 2” and before that, “Mega Race”, which was released back in the early nineties. There’s also the “Mario Kart” series, which would have ranked to be among my personal favorites had it not been for that darned blue shell. Needless to say, I have a lot of catching up to do. I came across this particular game on Desura and was immediately attracted by the visuals, prompting me to explore it more. “Gas Guzzlers: Combat Carnage” promises a fast-paced atmosphere with plenty of features to keep the player busy. The question remains, does it? Before I start looking into what auto insurance policy covers rocket damage, I’d like to thank Andrej Levenski from Gamepires for sending me a free review copy.
The main menu lets you start a new campaign, continue an existing one, participate in a quick race or multiplayer, choose / edit profiles, and adjust game options (including the ability to change your keybinds). I like the ability to create multiple profiles along with being able to change the difficulty as I see fit. I’m not sure I’d let the kids field test this one, as there are a few parts of the game I’d find questionable for them to see…the um, “doll” in the trunk, for example. The quick race feature allows you to play against the AI using the items you’ve unlocked in the main campaign. Multiplayer allows you to join a server from those available on the list or via IP address. You can launch your own dedicated server via the appropriate .exe file in your Bin32 folder, though I am less savvy when it comes to having to manually open ports and whatnot. I would have liked to have been able to create an online match / server from within the game. I took a peek at the multiplayer lobby and only saw two games available, so there’s that to consider.
This game’s campaign mode is divided up into three main cups, reminding me a bit of “Mario Kart’s” 50cc, 100cc, and 150cc modes. In this case, you’ll be progressing through the Fender Bender Cup, the Hazard Junkies Cup, and the Gas Guzzlers Cup. As you advance from cup to cup, the AI gets progressively harder and come equipped with bigger and badder weaponry. In order to become big and bad yourself, you’ll have to race and do well in the process. Racing will net you both money and points, the former of which allows you to purchase all sorts of different things while the latter helps you to climb the ranks. Once you reach first on the rank list in campaign mode, you can participate in a tournament (or championship) and attempt to advance to the next cup.
The campaign and multiplayer modes feature roughly the same kinds of races, though the latter sports a Deathmatch and Last Man Standing mode. In Classic Race, you’ll race without weapons scoring money and points accordingly, based on how you finish. Battle Race functions the same way, but weapons are allowed. Knockout Race is a series of laps that eliminates the worst driver every lap until there is only one driver standing. The Deathmatch and Last Man Standing events are more geared toward destruction rather than racing, with the intent on getting as many kills as you can. I personally like having the ability to race with and without weapons, depending on my mood.
So, you’re earning some points and making a little money. What can you buy? New cars? Check. Weapons? Check. Upgrades? Check. You’ll even be able to customize the visuals of your car and repair its damage from previous races. The main classes of weapons you’ll see involve bullets, rockets, and grenades, spread out over twelve different individual weapons. Upgrades involve items that improve your engine, nitro, tires, brakes, shields, and ammo capability. Some of these items aren’t available from the start and must be unlocked by doing well in races. Finishing first will net you an unlock from almost all of the above categories while finishing sixth will reward you with a single sticker unlock. This mechanic forces you to earn your unlocks and subsequent purchases.
When it actually comes time to race, your HUD will help to keep your information organized. I didn’t have any issues reading the interface and I especially liked the driving assistant, which tells you in what direction the next bend will be. In addition to that, you’ll have your standard meters and indicators, along with a health display and a radar that tells you what enemies are behind you. There are twelve different power-ups that you can pick up along the way. Some provide bonuses to offense while others might gift money, ammo, and repair your vehicle.
When you put all of the above together, you’ll be racing for points and money, upgrading your vehicle when funds allow it, and repeating the process. When you’re ready for a new car and have the ability to purchase a new one, you’ll start over and buy upgrades for that, until you’re ready to move on to the next one. It may sound like a “grind” of money and points to some, but I honestly didn’t mind it. I won’t go into how many times I played Mute City back in my “F-Zero” days…if you are enjoying your experience, you’ll find a reason to keep playing no matter how monotonous certain levels or mechanics might appear.
Gameplay is fast and furious, pardon the reference. It’s easy to fall behind, even on the beginner difficulty setting. This game requires you to pay attention from beginning to end, though most racing games do. You’ll be able to assign a voiceover from your profile menu, and I found the Arnold commentator to be particularly funny. This game knows how to have fun and doesn’t take itself seriously, something I like in games overall. I found my avatar doing hula hoops with a tire back in the garage, just to name an example. The weapons you fire are incredibly satisfying, even more so when you land two rockets on the car in front of you and cause it to flip end over end for the next mile and a half. Since I’m the type of gamer that likes a semi-casual experience, I kept the difficulty on beginner and had just the right amount of challenge. I won most of my races, but still dropped to third or fourth on occasion.
It’s easy to see why this game won second place in the European Games Awards for 2012…quite simply, it’s a heck of a lot of fun. The graphics are pretty and each track was fairly unique. One race I was driving in the snow and the next I was on some dirt road in the middle of a desert. The control and handling of the cars felt to be just right for my tastes. Even though I’m relatively a “newbie” to racing games, I can’t help but recommend this game to those who enjoy fast action racing games. “Gas Guzzlers: Combat Carnage” is going to be on my “play list” for quite some time, and is definitely worth its price tag. There’s a free demo via the links below, should you wish to try before you buy.
Final Verdict: 8/10
You can learn more about this game and purchase it by visiting the following websites:
You can help bring the game to Steam by voting for it on its Greenlight page, here:
You can view play sessions here: