Have you ever wanted to just slam in to other cars for no good reason? Well, Carnage: Battle Arena may be your ticket to such a fantasy, because that is about all you can do in this game. Is it fun? I won’t lie. It can be, but is it worth your hard-earned cash and valuable time? Well, that is what we need to talk about, so let’s dive right in!
Carnage: Battle Arena is just what it is, a Mad Max-like experience without the depth of a story or some kind of social commentary. You basically live in some weird post apocalyptic world where cars just simply exist to destroy one another over and over and over again.
Clearly this is not the game’s strong point, but it is simple and provides enough of a setting to at least make things semi-clear.
Carnage: Battle Arena is obviously a mobile game, and you can feel that reality pretty much from the start after clearing the tutorial. Once you learn how to wreck into things, use items, and heal, you are given a treasure box that rewards you with coins, gems, and car parts. In my case, some new wheels to add to my terrible starter car.
This is one of many reasons why Carnage: Battle Arena does not quite work on the Switch. It expects the player to open up the app regularly to participate in death matches in order to unlock more boxes which in turn unlocks more stuff. This is sadly not that exciting, but I can imagine the mobile version being a lot better since it is easier to whip out your phone and accomplish these micro-tasks than it is to do so on your Nintendo Switch.
At the core of the game, you are simply trying to survive and earn points by destroying other cars in arena death matches. Everyday, you are able to earn some big chests, which offer better rewards, by simply competing in these matches, and if you win the matches, you will be rewarded some smaller chests and keys to unlock more stuff. Like I said, very mobile-like.
Carnage: Arena Battle controls all right. I found myself getting quite frustrated with the poor handling after the umpteenth time, and I cannot promise you that getting better parts will improve your traction much. The game just feels very slippery, and although it encourages you to drift and do stunts in order to heal, I found myself in danger’s way more often than not while attempting those. The drifting, particularly, feels a bit goofy and hard to manage.
The system the game has basically encourages you to play, unlock, play, unlock, and rinse and repeat. There are 82 different cars to unlock and use, and many of them do look really cool and handle a lot better than the early garbage cars, but that is not saying much.
Unfortunately, a lot of different modes, like Racing, Free Mode, and Survival, are locked until you unlock a certain amount of cars. This feels a bit limiting, as the only mode you are able to do prior is Death Match, and it does take a good while to unlock enough cars to get the next mode. But like I said, this is a mobile game, and that is just second nature.
Speaking of being a mobile game, you can also unlock things ahead of time by spending outrageous amounts of coins or gems which honestly feels like a gut punch. You actually cannot do that in this Switch version, because micro-transactions are non-existent, which is a double-edge sword for me. On the one hand, it is nice that Switch owners do not need to deal with the BS of micro-transactions in their game. But on the other hand, it sucks that Switch owners have no option but to play for extremely long periods of time just to get enough coins and gems to unlock a mediocre car earlier than normal.
I hate that I am spending so much time on this, but it truly bogs down the experience completely. The Death Matches are fun and crashing into other cars feels great, but it is a bit overwhelming to need to get through copious amounts screens at the end of each match just to be able to do it all over again.
Another unfortunate point about Carnage: Battle Arena is that it lacks any form of multiplayer. Since there is no story mode or career mode to give the single player experience more depth, having some kind of local multiplayer could have saved this game from simply being a half-baked mobile port.
The soundtrack is a bit repetitive and not all that exciting in Carnage: Battle Arena. That is not to say that it is bad or anything, but moreso to communicate that it exists and is a bit forgettable.
But the sounds within the gameplay are so fantastic. I love the different car noises, and the sound of the cars crashing into each other or into walls is so pleasant and exciting. It gives the game so much more character, and this is clearly one of the highlights of the game.
VISUALS & PERFORMANCE
Carnage: Battle Arena looks amazing! The blocky, pixelated art style is surprisingly gorgeous, and the way the cars, buildings, and obstacles crumble into small blocks is satisfying in many ways.
The environments, however, are a bit of a mixed bag. Some stages look amazing, and they really compliment the cars and the death match feel. Other stages are incredibly bland and provide little in regards to aesthetics. And a couple stages make it so difficult to see the other cars that it becomes a blind battle in some ways. Thankfully there are indicators telling you where your opponents are, which does make hunting them down a lot easier.
In regards to performance issues, I experienced none in my many hours of playing. It not only looks very nice, but it runs nice in the process.
Oof. This is where things are the worst for me. Carnage: Battle Arena is expensive. It is $14.99 in the US, which is $14.99 more than the mobile version of the game. I understand that it looks a lot better on the big screen and it does not beat you over the head with ads and micro-transactions (Well, kind of), but that is a tall order.
The game is simply not worth the price. When you consider the amount of work it takes to unlock certain cars and modes, the $14.99 price tag just feels like a kick to the face. I understand that this unlock system works really well on mobile, but on the Switch, it sucks. The fact that there is no local multiplayer hurts the value of this game even more, because if I was able to enjoy local brawls with my friends, that could have possibly justified the price alone.
Instead, we have a game that is very much a mobile game on the Switch, and the pricing is ridiculous.
Story - 5/10
Gameplay - 5/10
Audio - 7/10
Visuals & Performance - 6/10
Value - 4/10
Carnage: Battle Arena is a great idea done very averagely. The fact that the game barely did anything to differentiate itself from the mobile version seems lazy, and the price is very high for what you are getting. The unlocking system is just way too slow for this Switch version, and the lack of multiplayer hurts even more.
- Good visuals
- Satisfying sound effects
- Way too expensive
- Mobile gimmicks are annoying
- No multiplayer