Carnage Racing (Facebook) Preview
Posted by Vince Osorio on 11.19.2012
From the developers of the Midnight Club franchise comes this fast-paced, arcade style kart racer- with a twist! Check out impressions of this free-to-play Facebook title inside.
I'm probably going to scare you off with the next couple of sentences I'll be using to describe Carnage Racing the new title from Jagex US, but I'm going to need to you fight though it & keep reading regardless. First off, Carnage Racing is a Facebook game. Second, Carnage Racing is meant to be played on keyboards.
Are you guys still here with me? Good, because I need to tell you why you should ignore the inherent stigma that comes with your average Facebook game & give Carnage Racing a shot.
The folks at Jagex US are made up of developers who worked on Rockstar's beloved Midnight Club series, so they know exactly what works & what doesn't work when it comes to arcade-style racing games. Unlike Midnight Club, Carnage Racing is a hyper-stylized kart racer, featuring crazy jumps, air tricks & power-ups. There is a customizable element to the game (I was able to mod out my roadster with a pink finish, red stripes & a hot purple flame on the passenger side) though it's mostly cosmetic. The cars (in the build I played) controlled more or less the same, but I was assured that each car will handle differently than the next (the van will nudge other racers with more force, for example).
Now the game controls well enough that you won't miss the absence of controller support (not that it should be necessary for a browser-based Facebook game)-WASD to move, F to use your powerup and so on. Again, the build I played was far from final but the cars all had enough weight to them to make them feel grounded, but the controls were loose enough to encourage drifting & other crazy, arcade-style racing techniques. And in case you were still wondering whether this game was truly realistic or not, you could attempt barrel rolls & flips in mid-air after hitting certain jumps to add to a meter (which I'll explain more in depth later on). Each power-up in the game can be upgraded up to three times (by collecting another power-up token on the track), adding an extra element to the gameplay- should you use your rocket now or upgrade it later for additional power & homing ability? You can race with up to 8 people in a game total or send "challenges" to your friends to beat your lap time on a certain track. The challenge feature seems like the one destined to bring you & your buddies back time & again, since laps might only take a minute (or less) to finish, making it easy to hop in & issue (or take part in) challenges whenever you find the time.
If that stuff sounds standard, then Carnage Racing throws yet another wrinkle on top. That meter I mentioned earlier corresponds with the ability to "warp" thoughout the race. There are certain portals that can be activated with the space bar which'll allow your car to hop though another part of the track. The portals themselves are only open for a short period of time, so if you miss your chance, you're probably going to find yourself behind the pack. The warp feature isn't nearly as unbalanced as it might seems; think of it as a time-and-space defying shortcut. The game plays around with this feature in a couple of different ways as well. Certain tracks actually have you warp to another section of the island when crossing a checkpoint, plus there's a "portal" gun power-up which allows you to warp to the car (or multiple cars) in front of you (depending on whether you've decided to upgrade the power-up or not). It's a neat way to level the playing field between different players without becoming too unbalanced.
For a game that runs though your browser, Carnage Racing is a definite looker. Bright, bold colors, a great sense of speed (aided by the constant framerate) & neat track designs all contribute to the game's overall look. Luckily, the game is free-to-play, and while there will be microtransactions for upgrades, I was assured that everything can be unlocked in the game without paying, as long as you're willing to dedicate the time & effort. It doesn't quite have the charm of a Mario Kart or the gritty, hyperstylized "street" aesthetic of a Midnight Club title, but it doesn't really have to be. At its core, Carnage Racing is a neat game, with a cool "warp" gimmick & solid racing mechanics. I think that the best compliment I can give to Carnage Racing is this: it makes you forget about all of the negative stigma attached to free-to-play Facebook titles & focuses on the gameplay first. Besides, who wouldn't want to dabble in some arcade racing in-between sessions of Facebook stalking?
Carnage Racing is available now to anyone with a Facebook account at: apps.facebook.com/CarnageRacing