Too dull to be mad.
Mad Carnage. With a name like that, this can only be good. I’m expecting high-octane chases, thrills and spills, and plenty of explosions to fill in the bits in-between. How can it possibly offer anything else? The truth is, while this Switch eShop release does indeed feature the cars and guns that you’d expect from that name, the excitement is just heavily absent.
Through its early tutorial, we become accustomed to the game’s storytelling through a mixture of comic strips and walls of text. The problem is, some of these written storytelling bits are long enough to form a short novel – you really don’t want to be sitting reading for ten minutes before the action gets under way, especially when you’re sitting down ready for some carnage. Both in terms of premise and visuals, you expect this game to be something like the Mad Max film series, but the execution of the storytelling sadly just has it come across as a boring imitation.
The gameplay is turn-based, and requires you to plot your way across the grid to position your fleet of cars to shoot those on the opposite side. After reviewing Tactical Mind just a few weeks ago, the mere sound of ‘turn-based’ is striking fear into me at the moment, and Mad Carnage does nothing to alleviate that. When you want some excitement from your game, nothing brings that to a crashing halt like being made to stop playing and watch a computerised opponent take their turn.
You have a limited range of squares which you’re able to drive over each turn, but momentum plays a factor when it comes to turning; for example, if you move forward three squares, you won’t be able to harshly turn your car around on the next turn if your opponent moves behind you. That’s another thing which produces an unwelcome slowdown to the game’s pace; you could get two cars who have shifted multiple squares just wasting endless turns trying to turn around and face each other if they’re the only cars left on the board.
The importance of directly facing your opponent differs depending on what vehicle you’re controlling. Each type has its strengths and weaknesses, with some usefully able to fire from their sides, but even then a lot rides on you having placed your car in the right position to make a shot. You can fire missiles with some vehicles which show little regard for range, but these can go off waywardly and you need to be Nostradamus to know if your opponents are going to be in the missiles’ flightpath at the right time.
Sadly, the variation in the vehicles is the only real feeling you get of things being different from level to level. All of the levels visually look alike – there may be some rocky terrain which you can’t drive over in a different place, but the cars and the grid will offer very little in terms of a brand-new experience. The Mad Max-esque orange hue is a constant, as is the generic musical backing.
As it doesn’t offer anything particularly revolutionary to its genre despite the great comic strip bits, and is a long way offering the mad carnage promised in its title, sadly this is not one I can recommend.