Steam gave me the notification that publisher Jagex was going to have a free weekend (at the time of writing) for two of their games: Ace of Spades, a Minecraft lookalike that plays like a military shooter, and Carnage Racing, a kart racer.
The free weekend hadn't started yet, but Carnage Racing piqued my interest. I like racing games, and I seem to recall maybe being vaguely excited for Carnage Racing years ago when I saw it on Gametrailers? I wasn't sure.
But outside of the Free Weekend it was on sale for $2.50, so rather than wait like a sensible human being, I bought it sight unseen.
And, boy, I learned a lesson today.
The game itself feels like it fell off of the iPhone in the worst way possible. The music is super uninspired, the sounds are limp and wimpy, the art is kind of questionable (what is up with that dude's proportions?), the cars are sluggish, and the weapons don't feel good (not only that, but you are totally, 100% defenseless in first place).
On top of that, the game informs you that you can use any USB gamepad to play the game, but does not offer any control customization options. I tried my Dualshock controller first (as I find it to be the most comfortable) but the only button that would respond was R2 - which Carnage Racing interpreted as the pause button. To get it to recognize my wired 360 controller, I had to quit out of the game and relaunch it, too. Kind of a nitpick, but still silly.
The game similarly doesn't provide any graphics customization options, with a single slider for "Quality" that goes between High, Normal, Low and Lowest. I did not notice any immediate change to the game's performance switching between these options, and driving retained sort of a jittery feeling throughout.
Carnage Racing's primary conceit is a teleportation meter that fills up, and once you pop it, you can drive through portals that warp you to a shortcut. It's kind of a cute idea but isn't utilized very well (your meter fills up so slowly that you can only use the warp once per lap, and almost always in the same spot). On top of that, warping is a little disorienting - you don't teleport in "logical space". It's literally a portal to some unrelated section of the track. It makes it hard to keep a bead on where your opponents are because even if somebody's on your left, when you warp, you could suddenly be on the opposite side of the track, above them. There's absolutely a feeling of "Okay, where even am I in relation to anything, now?" There's no immediately recognizable benefit to using it, it just looks cool.
But I could probably put up with that. I've played lackluster racing games before and gotten some amount of enjoyment from them. The real problem with Carnage Racing is that it kind of doesn't want me to play it at all.
After a certain point, tracks just... stop loading. Me and all the CPU racers will spawn in the sky and fall for an eternity. Sometimes, dumping out to the menu and re-loading back in to a race will fix it, but most of the time, it doesn't. It makes it 100% unplayable in any degree whatsoever.
On the plus side, I'm only out $2.50, and bizarrely one of the Steam trading cards I got from the game is selling for an average of $0.84, so I may yet even make my money back.
If only I could actually play it, maybe it wouldn't be such a steaming pile.