Carmageddon started as a licensed recreation of cult classic Death Race 2000 – there are still cars in the game influenced by Stallone and Carradine’s racers in the film. The game was officially released in june 1997 fofr MS-DOS and macOS. In many countries (including Germany and, for a short time, the United Kingdom), the first release of the game was censored. You’re participating in a series of bloody cross-country races. “Races” here is intentionally used loosely.
There are checkpoints, laps, and a finish line, but these only represent one way to win. You’re simultaneously encouraged to crash into opposing racers or barrel over pedestrians milling about the course. Dealing enough damage to your opponents will knock them out of the race and leave you with an automatic win, while squishing every last bystander under your tires is yet another victory condition. An extremely generous time limit gives you some focus, though colliding with opponents, killing pedestrians, or passing checkpoints all keep the timer so well-fed that you can pretty much stay in a race indefinitely.
Your opponents will never complete the race themselves, so you’re free to sandbox around and spend time pursuing whichever goal you choose. In fact, the game prides itself on this freeform nature, and even the manual itself encourages you do jump in a race and do whatever strikes you. You’re also the only car that can repair itself or reset your position, giving you an insurmountable advantage when smashing up your AI opponents. And should you actually want to play it as a racer, there’s incentive there too – with any time remaining traded in for upgrade cash. The massive levels also offer the freedom to leave the track simply because there’s six maps total, and each of the 33 races just sections off a new part for its track.
This means any maps you might hate are guaranteed to show up again, and often. You are allowed to skip ahead to a limited extent. It’s certainly a pretty game, even today. You can play with software rendering at DOS resolutions, DOS with 3Dfx support (you’ll need some Glide drivers), or in Windows mode at 640×480. Any of the options were quite playable, with 3Dfx offering the sharpest textures, but Windows giving the smoothest gameplay.