Gas Guzzlers: Combat Carnage is a slow burn at first. Which really goes against what you’d think the game would be, implied by the title. You start with a slow car, can’t shoot anything, and can hardly customize your car until you complete a few races to unlock and buy the items in which to do so.
Creating a profile provides some amusing treats as the character stumbles around, presumably drunk. You can assign a color to the race suit, give him a name, and even a voice. The voice selection is limited, but you can have None, Jack who sounds like Sam from Serious Sam, or an exaggerated Schwarzenegger voice called Arnold – both of which are pretty funny but ultimately get annoying rather quickly.
There is a campaign to speak of, but it’s real basic in terms of what it provides. It will be the “career” for the driver profile you created, but lacks story or any other trappings you’d expect. It’s all serviceable and functional. It contains race types such as Classic Race, Battle Race, and Knockout. Classic Race is what it sounds like, a traditional race without car-mounted weapons. That, for whatever reason doesn’t mean there still aren’t pickups on the course to use – such as oil slicks, mines, and smoke. Other items are strewn about for personal use with nitrous to boost and wrenches to replenish health. The Battle Race is everything in Classic Race, but now you can mount weapons onto your car and directly fire on enemies. Lastly, Knockout is an elimination style series which anything goes and follows similarly to Battle Race, but with a timer.
Multiplayer exists using the same racing archetypes from the singleplayer. Rather unfortunately, no one is playing it. You have the ability to join the official Gas Guzzlers servers which are hosted in Crotia, home of the developers or connect via IP. I couldn’t find a way to host a game, though.
There are a bevy of customizable options visually with paint, stickers (liveries), and even license plates tailored with your name. You can also upgrade your car by upgrading engine, tires, and weapons. Vehicle upgrades are necessary in order to progress in the game. The visual upgrades are just for personal enjoyment. You’ll be making a lot of money to spend on your first car. After enough races you’ll be unlocking the ability to buy new cars and parts, and will start the process all over again.
The racing itself is well done and feels solid when you make contact with other drivers. I think the keyboard does fine for controlling vehicles, but plugging in an Xbox 360 gamepad, customized the controls and had a far better, less carpal tunnel experience. The biggest challenge you’ll face in the game is the AI, they are good even on medium difficulty. They’ll mostly miss with standard mounted weapons, but they are stiff and quality drivers that are hard to beat unless you employ some less than clean tactics.
Gas Guzzlers: Combat Carnage isn’t a bad game, it just doesn’t do anything new or innovative to either racing or car combat. But what it does do is provide a healthy dose of fun and gorgeous graphics with Gamespires’ in-house engine, Prana. With the customization and tons of unlocks, there are hours of entertainment. Though, I think it’s best in small doses due to the repetition.
Retails for: $31.99, recommended purchase price: $19.99
A review code for the game was provided by PR for Review purposes