Release Date: February 2nd 2018
Price as of Article: $4.99 USD, £4.49 GBP
Mad Carnage is a deceptive game judging by the promotional art. It’s clearly inspired by Mad Max, a fine franchise to look up to, and you would think it would be some sort of racing game mixed with vehicular combat just looking at the artwork. But no, oddly enough it’s a turn-based strategy game. As a fan of strategy games, this was actually a pleasant surprise.
The story of Mad Carnage is a simple one. You are John Carnage (a classic action hero’s name, my I add) who seems to have entered the universe of Mad Max. Yes, I’m being slightly facetious but he might as well have as this is a complete rip-off of Mad Max without any subtly whatsoever. The world is a giant dustbowl reclaimed by the wild, devoid of life. Humans are still present, driving around in banged up old cars equipped with weapons and fighting for survival and fuel.
Right off the bat the game presents an absolute wall of text to give a background to the story. It’s monstrous and admittedly very well written by a professional author I believe. The problem is that it’s literally just a novel plastered on the screen. As nicely written and descriptive as it may be, I’m playing a computer game, I don’t want to be spending the first 40 minutes reading through a wall of text. Call me uncultured if you want, but after a minute or two I just skipped it.
A better storytelling mechanic for this kind of game are the storyboards between each stage. While mostly just one static screen, these retro comic book panels are pretty cool looking even if I didn’t care about the story they conveyed.
The audio is quite on the simple side it must be said. The music for the most part is not too bad, some nice slow chugging distorted guitars and nice deep drums beats. It’s simple and effective although it could have done with more variety.
Visuals & Performance
I think the visuals are possibly the weakest part of the experience. I think the storyboards are nicely drawn but during the gameplay, everything is just a little too bland. Environments are boring, cars and animation are simple. It doesn’t look great to be honest. When every level looks just about the same, with barely any difference, you know you have a problem.
I’ve got to be honest. Going into the first two stages of Mad Carnage, I thought it was possibly the worst strategy game I’d ever played. I could barely control my units at all. I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t turn, why must I move two places forward sometimes, but other times I could only move a little. I even had no choice but to drive myself into a wall and blow myself up. It was ridiculous and it didn’t make sense to me. I was definitely missing something.
What the game failed to teach me was that movement is momentum based. The idea is that your driving a car and so obviously you can’t just stop and speed up or turn on a dime. The movement you’re allowed to do in the present turn is linked with what you did in the previous one. So if you went full pelt last time, you won’t be able to turn properly until you’ve slowed down and lost forward momentum. It can take multiple turns to just to make your car turn around a little. It does actually make sense.
I’m not entirely convinced it makes for compelling gameplay though. Aside from that weird twist it’s very much a strategy game at the most basic level. You move your cars around the battlefield and wipe out the other vehicles before they wipe you out. It’s square grid based movement and although the slightly varied car classes have different capabilities, you’re not really going to be doing much aside from moving and shooting once the enemy is in range. There’s no speed stats involved so it’s the kind of game where you move all units until you can’t move anymore, then your enemy has a go. It’s really very basic.
There are only 20 levels in Mad Carnage, which makes it not the longest game in the world. As long as you don’t find it too difficult you’ll have gone through them all in a couple of hours or so. Saying that, I did find a few of the stages tough. It’s one of those games where one slightly dodgy decision can swing the outcome of the match so you’ll probably have to try many of the stages multiple times.
Finally I should take about the upgrades you can get. Completing a stage will give you gears which can be use to upgrade your different vehicles, they add things like extra movement or more life and, like the rest of the game, it’s just a little too straight forward.
If you have a friend over there’s the opportunity to fight against them in a custom arena. It’s nice to have if you really want something else to do, but I personally wouldn’t consider this as a good competitive multiplayer game in any way. There are far better options out there.
When talking about value you definitely need to consider the low price. I was surprised to see that Mad Carnage’s starting price is a reasonable £4.49. I mean, it’s difficult to grumble at that price for almost any game that offers a few hours of decent gameplay. If it was double or triple that price maybe I would have something to say but the publisher has made a sensible choice for the price.
Decent content for the price
Gameplay isn't too interesting