By on October 6, 2009

Though I’m not as old as Bob Lutz (who rivals Mermaid Man for out-and-out age-related dottiness), I’m ancient enough to remember when Night Rider first put the pixels in pistonhead. I also recall an era when social commentators got their knickers in a twist about videogame violence. In terms of driving sims, they seemed to find the idea of running people over somehow anti-social. Personally, I saw nothing wrong with it—save the homicidal motorists’ tendency to imitate Beavis and Butthead when doing the deed. But I wonder what’s happened to the really violent stuff. Oh sure, you can find the odd gem— like this flash game called Blood Car. But the Carmeggedon franchise is dead; in 2005, the fourth installment was canceled without explanation. That’s the same year 60 Minutes reported on an alleged link between Grand Theft Auto and an actual cop killing—producing yawns for all concerned (save the cop’s family and the defense lawyers). So, for those of us out of the loop, what’s the current state of play when it comes to electronic automotive mayhem? [Warning: video NSFE... not safe for epileptics]

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20 Comments on “Ask the Best and Brightest: Whatever Happened to Really Violent Car Videogames?...”


  • avatar

    Blood car..not bood car. Please fix

  • avatar

    The Burnout series has been known for a mini-game option that, until the most recent version of the game, had become the game. It involves creating the biggest, destructive accident you can, racking up the most amount of monetary damage. Good times. No, really, it’s a lot of fun with a group of friends. All vehicles are oddly driver-less during the crashes.

    Wikipedia on the Burnout series.

  • avatar

    I loved that game in the You Tube video. We turned it into a drinking game like everything else in my university years. http://www.mystarcollectorcar.com/

  • avatar
    campocaceres

    I think it just lost market appeal over the years. Columbine shifted a lot of the media and political backlash to first person shooters where the player uses a gun as a weapon, rather than a car. And then the Grand Theft Auto series has been around for almost ten years, which in addition to running people over offers an engaging story line along with many other forms of profanity and violence. The “shock value” of a game like Carmageddon is long gone, and expectations of the content, these days, are much higher. Few companies can truly compete with the budget and talent pool that the GTA series gets. Games where you can run over people do indeed exist, they just don’t get the mainstream attention that they used to. So many games are so violent these days it’s pretty much just accepted.

    I have a feeling the next “big shocker” is probably going to be sex. And I’m not talking about the “red light district” sex games that nobody wants to admit they’ve ever played unless it’s anonymously over the internet. I’m talking about high-budget mainstream games with complex storylines. It’ll be like the movies.

  • avatar
    PeregrineFalcon

    @campocaceres
    I have a feeling the next “big shocker” is probably going to be sex. And I’m not talking about the “red light district” sex games that nobody wants to admit they’ve ever played unless it’s anonymously over the internet. I’m talking about high-budget mainstream games with complex storylines. It’ll be like the movies.

    I take it you’ve never heard of Mass Effect.

    One shot of bare ass and some side-boob, and people go into conniptions.

    Edit – Link is to YouTube video of Fox News article. Only NSFW if you work for the liberal media or Jack Thompson. ;)

  • avatar
    dolo54

    They’re still putting out new versions of GTA. Zombie Driver looks fun http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jzWYxZLZWOE

  • avatar
    KWRussell

    Blame Gran Turismo and Forza Motorsport. Virtual hoonage became its own reward, and mowing down pedestrians just got in the way.

    I’ll always have a place in my heart for Interstate ’76. Mad Max re-imagined as a ’70s buddy cop TV series, complete with funk soundtrack. The sense of speed was almost non-existent, though, because they adapted a game engine designed for 50-foot tall robots (Mechwarrior 2) to pre-malaise muscle cars.

    @PeregrineFalcon: Correction: One shot of alien lesbian bare ass and side boob, because you could choose to play Cmdr. Sheppard as a woman and still hook up with Liara. I don’t think the prudes would consider any sci-fi explanation of asari reproductive and mating rituals to be relevant to their interests.

  • avatar
    salhany

    God that faux controversy over Mess Effect’s sex scene (which was brief and entirely tangential to the story line) was monumentally idiotic. ME was a fantastic game overall but morons wanted to scream about the most inconsequential part of it.

    GTAIV was violent enough, and you could run over as many pedestrians as you desired. You didn’t get any points for doing so, however.

  • avatar
    krazykarguy

    I have been playing car-related video games since Spy Hunter on the NES. There is really nothing else that gets my blood going like a good car game.

    I played my fair share of “violent” car video games – I even had the MA rated version of Carmaggeddon for my PC. Grand Theft Auto III (people seem to forget about the 1st and 2nd iterations) were gruesome enough, but more for the gun violence than anything else. Running people over with cars seemed to get old, and only really served to get the cops hot to catch you. After a certain point, vehicular manslaughter became something to avoid.

    Recently though, all I play are the versions of Gran Turismo and other “real” driving games. I may still HAVE to buy a PS3 just to play GT5 it sounds and looks so good.

  • avatar

    Robert – I think you mean Night Driver

    Hitting cows in carmageddon was one of the highlights of my college gaming memories…

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Fatigue and unoriginality.

    When your biggest selling (or only redeeming) feature is pushing the envelope, everyone else will try the same thing and your title will rot on the shelves because a) it’s one of many and b) it’s played out.

    It’s like art and terror alerts. Shocking works until people aren’t shocked or scared anymore because everyone’s trying to shock and scare them.

    Meanwhile, someone who made a game that’s uniquely fun and entertaining is raking in the sales.

  • avatar

    Grand theft auto is still around, largely the same, still allows you to be as violent. I’d argue its a little less depraved, but I may have just matured since the last release.

  • avatar
    Sinistermisterman

    Carmageddon 2 was by far the best out of the games they released. Nothing quite beat tearing your car in half whilst barrel rolling over a skyscraper having just jumped through a bunch of shuffling grannies. Severed limbs and flying car parts – reminds me of my commute to work.

  • avatar
    Riz

    Violence in car based games tended to be incidental (or like GTA the car part was incidental to the violence). Gore seekers would go to a Left For Dead and shoot zombies, while car game seekers (like myself) will have Forza for car port or Burnout / Need For Speed for mostly driving related plot lines.

    With gore going mainstream in most countries via video games it’s not a headline any more. (Oddly Australia’s banning Left for Dead)

  • avatar
    escapenguin

    Saints Row 2′s a good one. You get to hose down property, cars, and people with a sewer truck in one set of “Activities.” Pedestrians go flying when you hit ‘em, much farther than GTA. And if you slam into another car head on, the passengers/driver in the other car are ejected through the windshield.

    The game parodies so many things (like with the COPS missions) it’s hard to catch it all immediately, and the humor is downright riotous at times. They took the term gratuitous violence (and GTA’s base) and ran with it.

    The graphics are a lot more primitive than the last GTA, and overall the story isn’t as involved (that doesn’t mean it isn’t better), but at least you don’t have to entertain your “cousin” constantly. I can’t wait for the sequel.

    I’ve been playing Dirt 2 recently, which is excellent, but the only violent part about it is when you wreck in spectacular fashion.

  • avatar
    AdamYYZ

    I still play Carmageddon 2 regularly. I built a legacy 3Dfx machine just for stuff like that. If only the genre was still alive. I had so much fun goofing around with that one. I don’t see a problem with the violence either. I’ve never had a criminal charge or driving conviction. I’m a kind and gentle person who knows the difference between slapstick violence and reality.

  • avatar
    geggamoya

    Ooh.. Interstate 76. Felony 11-79. Carmageddon 2. GTA 1-2. And online multiplayer with a 56k modem! Oh how fun that was.

    Also does anyone remember what the game was where you had a taxi and took fares to earn money to buy weapons for your car? And then proceed to kill anything that moves? Must be 15 years old by now.

  • avatar
    DearS

    Twisted Metal 2 is probably still my favorite. I used to love bombing the Eiffel tower and bringing it down on my opponents. Have not seen a game like since.

    Need for speed Hot pursuit was a great game also, running from cops was so exciting back then.

    But not game can touch Gran Turismo. I used to drive the fastest laps my letting my 1000hp 2000lb Skyline hit the walls, bounce off, and land pointing out the corners. Never let go of the gas, the blower had more lag then my Virgin ex girlfriend.

  • avatar
    Autobraz

    geggamoya:

    You are thinking of Quarantine. My second favourite game after Carmaggedon 2.

    How I miss both… I think I will have to build a legacy gaming PC too.

  • avatar
    Viceroy_Fizzlebottom

    While it may not be a car game, don’t forget Road Rash!


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