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A Wide Open Sandbox racing game.

Carmageddon was released in 1997. The game revolves around a series of car races held in a Wide Open Sandbox, although racing is really not this game's selling-point. You can race your opponents around the track, but true success comes mainly from causing as much damage as possible to their cars, as well as running down the innocent civilians that practically litter the map. It was one of the first video games to feature this type of violence on such a massive scale: you can run over 500 people in some of the maps, including old women, and you are literally encouraged to do so! It garnered a lot of controversy from Media Watchdogs: controversy which probably spurred an entire genre of violent driving games such as Grand Theft Auto.

Each race takes place in a different scene: The countryside, a bustling metropolis, a series of mine shafts and so on. Each race is timed, and the only way you can complete it on time is to run through Check Points.

That is... if you choose to complete the race at all.

The other option is to kill as many civilians as you can, and attempt to destroy your competitors by repeatedly ramming into them at high speed. They, of course, are constantly trying to do this to you. Although it is based on the earlier Destruction Derby, Carmageddon's improved collision physics (not to mention aerial and underwater physics!) means that hitting both opponents and civilians in different ways (particularly at different strength and with a different side of your car) gives bonus points and extra time on the clock. The race can thus be won by demolishing all other competitors' cars and earning a lot more points than you would just by racing through the checkpoints. The points you gain can then be used to unlock upgrades to your car, making it even more dangerous.

For extra sadism value, races may also be won by killing all civilians on the map. It should however be noted that until you get access to the post-completion-only cars, this is extremely difficult. It helps if you can find the Pedestrians Shown on Map power-up, of course.

Destroying your opponents is also encouraged because you might win the car they were driving. Each car in the game is unique (enabling a completely different playing style), so destroying more enemies means improving your arsenal and repertoire. There are well over two-dozen different cars available to drive in the original game.

Compared to the strict linearity of most racing games, the ability to drive anywhere in the city (as long as you were causing havoc along the way) combined with the wacky-literal cartoon physics (the Instant Handbrake will stop you in mid-air and suspend you there) make Carmageddon quite memorable.

Three installments were eventually released, although by the time of the third one, games of this specific genre were already quite prolific. A fourth installment, Carmageddon: Reincarnation, will be released in 2012 after a Sequel Gap of 12 years.

The game is usually regarded as a Spiritual Licensee of the infamous cult film Death Race 2000.

Tropes used in Carmageddon include:
  • Achilles' Heel: Many larger cars (or other vehicles) have certain weak points which can destroy the car instantly when hit.
  • Animesque: In Carmageddon TDR 2000, almost all of the pedestrians, especially the women, have anime hair colour. Pink, blue, green, purple, they've got it. At least two cars are references to anime/manga: The Mecha and The Machine. The Mecha is a Rice Burner with an anime girl vinyl and is driven by a purple haired Animesque girl. The Machine, while it is a hot rod crossed with an SUV, is driven by a cyborg who is merely a head with his body being the entire car itself. His name? Tetsuo. There has been references to anime/manga in the older games. The most noticeable is the Mach 13 from the second game, which is just the Mach 5 with a dull paintjob and without the cool gadgets. For such a violent racing game, I'm surprised they left out the buzzsaws...
  • Artificial Stupidity: The opponents aren't very bright.
  • Autobots, Rock Out!: The "Red Book Audio" (CD music that can be played in conjunction with the game) features instrumental versions of several Fear Factory songs, played by Fear Factory themselves. You don't really play much of a hero in this game, though.
  • Ax Crazy: The entire cast.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: ED 101. He blew a fuse and went psycho...
  • Canon Discontinuity: The official site for the reboot has a history section. Under the entry for Carmageddon TDR 2000 is "We don't talk about this" accompanied by a picture of a flaming poo.
  • Car Fu
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: Most noticeable when you try to finish the race by actually driving through the checkpoints. Opponents which should've been directly behind you may suddenly appear ahead of you on a head-on collision course. It's actually more helpful than it sounds, assuming you're looking to trash them (which you should). This teleportation ability can get annoying though because once most opponents have been eliminated, the remaining car will be trying to avoid you. At least it can't teleport when you're near enough to it.
  • Cool Car: The whole lot of them, although this ranges across different types. There are those mundane cars which are reasonably priced and works well, supercars which are pretty good racers but get squished easily, SUVs and the later big trucks which can take a beating and inflict pain, although that's what they're good at only, and the numerous interesting cars which serve no real purpose other than looking pretty interesting.
  • Cool Plane: The Supastuka in the second game, although its Awesome but Impractical. The beta used to have "Birdy": a Cessna with clipped wings and a large bloodied propellor to drive into people. It was scrapped in the release version.
  • Crapsack World: Most possibly the main theme of the games. Most noticeable in the third game.
  • The Creepy Undertaker: A pair of undertaker twins as one of the opponents.
  • Cyberpunk: The third game seems to be this. In The Slums and Hi Rise levels, cyber punk features such as holographic billboards are an abundance. Even the pedestrians seem to be all cyber punk'd.
    • Two characters from the first game and it's expansion seem to be fans of this: Mech Maniac (driver of Grunge Buster) and Su Borg (driver of Doozer).
  • Drives Like Crazy: The entire point of the series.
  • Expy: Max Damage is clearly the game's counterpart of Needles Kane a.k.a. Sweet Tooth. While not a Monster Clown, he's equally Ax Crazy, is a Legacy Character (so as his car) and is also the game's Mascot.
  • Fragile Speedster: Throughout the series, Vlad's cars tend to be the fastest, although they're frail and terrible at cornering.
  • Hot Pursuit: In the first and third games, police cars will be parked in certain spots and will proceed to chase and ram you if they notice you doing anything reckless. This includes driving past them at 80 M.P.H. (60 is fine), running over pedestrians, or striking their vehicle. Naturally they don't care if it's an AI car causing the mayhem though. In the second game, the special race in the last group, Bruise Brothers, 12 Copcars will be chasing you. You have to wreck them all before the timer runs out in order to win.
  • The Juggernaut: Carmageddon 2's Big Dump is the apotheosis of this trope. It's a gigantic dump truck several times the size of most of the other vehicles, capable of plowing through everything else in the game... usually without losing speed. And in order to unlock it, you have to kill it. It even starts the level driving right at you, and will kill you outright if it connects.
    • Although the cost of it is more than the entire game would cost you to play. It costs 8,800,000 credits. You could spend that on upgrades and snatch one of the best vehicles in the game, Abba Cab for about 1,750,000. Beat the game and unlock everything anyway. You'll spend more time earning it, than just beating the game as the game doesn't take long. Unless you cheat. Even then a fully upgraded top tier car is likely better as they are faster, kill just fine (even Big Dump will get squashed in a direct confrontation), also they are stronger against wall collisions and can move the level better. Still fun to play as Big Dump though.
      • The Loggerhead is a cheaper version of the Big Dump which also appears as a regular opponent in the later stages.
  • Monowheel Mayhem: The Wheel from the third game. It is a cage-like monowheel armed with two giant axes.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Screwie Lewie's car is a "Supercar/Monster Truck/Light Aircraft/Mole Machine" vehicle... for the discerning psycho.
  • Offscreen Teleportation: Opponents will warp around to random places on the map... but not if you have the map screen open. On some mazelike levels driving with the map open (using the tiny viewport at the top) is the only way to catch that last cowardly opponent in a reasonable amount of time.
    • Also, if you push an opponent into deep water, it wrecks him, but if he drives into it himself, he teleports back to solid ground just like the player would. Giving the opponent a little nudge on his way to Davy Jones' locker can make all the difference.
  • Police State: The last levels of the third game take place in such a place. Everywhere you look is just Scenery Porn.
  • Psycho Electro: Stella Stunna, who connects herself to the battery of her car for an "extra buzz". More annoyingly, in the first game her sportscar comes with a built-in Electro Bastard Ray that automatically kills pedestrians in a wide radius, which would be great if you could steal her car during the campaign but you can't. She will, however, gladly zap every pedestrian you are about to run over in the first thirty seconds of the race, causing you to run out of time and lose. Cue throwing your mouse through the monitor.
  • Punny Name: Damn near everyone.
    • More like everything. Opponent names, their cars, the level's names. Almost everything is a reference to something/someone. According the the Wikia, there are at least 130 puns in the series.
  • Ramming Always Works: You will most likely finish the game in this manner than by racing.
  • Rice Burner: The afore mentioned 'The Mecha' which is actually a Ford Ka town car. Not a very good performance car since it is slow but does handle well.
    • The Street Machine form the second game is a wacky example. It has speakers in the boot so large that the boot lid can't close. Driving the car is also like driving with the 'Grip-o-matic Tires' powerup permanently active. It gets worse when you actually have that powerup active.
  • Super Not-Drowning Skills: A rare racing game example.
  • Taken for Granite: Actually, not a negative power-up by any standard means, the appropriately named Solid Granite Car power-up turns the player's vehicle into an unyielding mass of death. Does not significantly increase your own defense, but even the biggest trucks will bounce right off you. You however will be able to uproot trees, take out street lamps, and swat away any other vehicle. Even the slightest pressure created by pushing a car between you and a wall typically means instant death for the unlucky racer. In single player modes, your car model does not change, so it's difficult to tell if your wheels also become granite, but you are able to drive as unhindered as you were before the power-up.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: Cripple a car, then push it into a field of Exploding Barrels. Grab a Dismemberfest powerup, gently nudge pedestrians to remove their limbs, then watch the torsos flop around pathetically. Trap an opponent in a confined space, enable Pinball Mode, and allow him to smash himself to bits against the walls. Pin an opponent against a freeway divider, get the upgrades for stone car and gripped tires (by cheating, unless you're really lucky), turn the map on so the don't go anywhere, then ram them at top speed. They'll literally fly off the map. The opportunities are only limited by the player's sociopathy.
  • Weaponized Car: Majority of the cars are armed with countless melee weapons such as spike bumpers, wheel blades, buzzsaws, drill bits, etc.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: The censored version of the first game revolves on this, which carried into the rest of the series. Solar flares have turned 80% of the world's population into zombies...and Carmageddon is mankind's solution against this threat.