When it comes to combat racing games, the more explosions it has the better. That is why I’d say that the kart game that’s close to my heart (that’s very explosive and not “kid friendly” at least in “theme”) would be Crash Team Racing back in the PS1.
I mentioned CTR in that this is the first game that popped into mind when I played through Jagex’ version of a kart game, Carnage Racing.
As the game suggests, Carnage Racing is all about explosions, high octane races and well… destruction in racing proportions.
Gameplay is simple, you control your car via the gyroscope. The game doesn’t require you to press on the gas pedal since your car runs automatically. The controls however are dedicated to the time warp and the weapon systems that you’d be using as you pass through maps in-game.
The game also has weapons in stock. You can run through balls of light on the maps that provides you with speed boosts, weapons and the like that will help you gain the unfair advantage during matches.
While Carnage Racing is a free to download game, there is a paygate system in place where you have to purchase the “full” version of the game just to be able to upgrade some integral car parts that will allow you to race toe to toe with the AI and other players.
Now, maybe you’re wondering why I’ve put this earlier in the review? Since the paygate is enforced on many of the game’s features, you won’t expect to have a “complete” game once you download CR.
The Customization, Upgrading, and Paygate
Typical to any racing game out there, Carnage Racing allows you to choose the cars you can have and even edit the color and other designs found on your car. CR doesn’t have a robust car editing system though, so don’t expect to get a very customized looking cart.
Also, you can upgrade your car’s inherent stats through the game’s upgrade system. However, this is where the scope of the game’s paygate system comes in. You won’t be able to upgrade past the first level of your car unless you pay for the full version of the game.
That’s right, a lot of the things you can normally do on other racing games are locked out which terribly sucks since you may expect that Jagex would go with the usual freemium income model.
Thankfully, the paygate system doesn’t directly interfere with the game’s online multiplayer system. But it is indirectly felt as those who paid for the full game get to have their cars upgraded, while those who haven’t would have just wished they haven’t bothered playing online… at all.
So if you don’t want to be frustrated, or want to even spend a dime on the game, online multiplayer is not for you.
If there is one thing that is exclusive to Carnage Racing, it’s the Time Warp system. This serves as the game’s speed boost mechanic but instead of getting a speed boost, your car is immediately teleported to the end part of the portal that you can enter, or you have your car’s look turn into this freakishly psychedelic hue which practically is useless if you fail to get into a portal (which can close in almost an instant).
The time warp mechanic gives the game the nice “risk” factor in races because the portals come and go - at one glance you’ll see the portal open, and then with just a blink of an eye the portal suddenly disappears. Which, if you happen to experience it yourself, would mean that you’d be kissing the wall in just a few moments?
Final Verdict: Fair
Carnage Racing is a game that’s truly enjoyable to play; that is, if it runs smoothly. Ever since I started playing the game using my iPad 2 (with updated iOS7) the game bogs down a lot. I’ve tried closing all open apps, and even clearing my memory, but the game just hangs, especially when I activate the Time Warp feature. It was only when I shifted to another device that I was able to play the game smoothly.
If the game blurb says it can run using an iPad 2, I just hope they meant that I can play it like any other player.
The game revels at mindless explosions and fast paced racing, just like any kart game out there. I actually missed playing games like this (no, Mario Kart doesn’t count) and it was a great that Jagex was able to bring that racing combat feel into the mobile platform.
As for my other concerns, the biggest after the slowdown is the game’s paygate system. I personally would’ve wanted the game either be released as a premium game instead of what it is now. I do get what they are trying to do here, but seeing that the game runs this way, I will be at least one not wanting to spend a dime for Carnage Racing.
So all in all, I must say that Carnage Racing is a pretty split decision for me. On one end, the game’s slowdown and lag issues with my actual device forced me to borrow from a friend to review the game. On the other, once the game doesn’t bog down, you have a terribly fun, explosive filled, time warping racer that can kindle both the mischievous and the competitive side of your persona.
So, in the end, I’d say, try the game. Since the free version feels like it’s made as the game’s demo anyway, you might as well try it right?