I've made it my mission to play through the entirety of Carmageddon TDR 2000 in order to determine once and for all if it has any redeeming qualities. I'm also looking for some sort of personal conclusion on the matter. I'll be documenting the entire experience on this topic with screenshots, comments, analyzing and stats.
If I remember correctly, I got my copy around 2005. For reasons that I can't recall, I never played it past Hall of Fame. It's been sitting in my game shelf ever since. This will change now!
As you can see, it did not come with a physical manual. The manual is just a PDF file on the disk.
I found it strange that this "Sold Out Software" version comes with the Nosebleed Pack cars, but not the tracks. 1920's and Hell are missing in action. I guess it's the Nosebleed Patch and not Pack, as indicated by the Carmageddon Wiki.
After testing that everything runs as it should, I put the difficulty on Sunday Driver (hey, I never said that I was good at these games) and started my adventure. Let's see if Torus Games knew at all what they were doing.
Here we go! The first level! It's pretty much as I remembered it from all those years ago. After beating Carmageddon 2, this place feels very small. It feels like it's less than half the size of Beaver Woods. However, it is quite colorful and there's a lot going on. A stunt track, studios, a haunted house set, a western set, a water set, a city set and two small restaurants. As a first level to get the player familiar with the controls and gameplay mechanics, it's all right.
As I mess around in free ride mode, I start to notice the changes to the vehicle physics. It all feels a lot sharper, almost arcade-y. Turning is sharper, stopping is quicker, everything happens faster. The looseness and floatiness of Carma 1 and 2 is nowhere to be found. It's decent for what it is, but it doesn't feel like Carmageddon. It feels more like early Need For Speed games.
I stumble upon an Explosive Pedestrians powerup, and to my dismay it has been turned into a powerDOWN. In Carma 2 it made peds splatter even on light impact, but here it makes them actually explode, lifting your car a little. Not good. However, I quickly notice that the effect times of powerdowns like Hot Rod, Bouncy Bouncy and Greased Tires have been reduced greatly, so I guess that's nice.
Once change that I kinda like are the provocative pedestrians. Some of them throw ineffective Molotov cocktails at you and some of them even stick out their butts at you and smack them! That said, the ones with actual grenades can go straight to hell. Oh wait... Hell is missing here... Crap.
Race 1: The Boulevard
Fastest lap: 1:26
Fastest time completed: 8:40
Fastest opponent waste: 2:02
Fastest waste all opponents: 8:40
Most peds wasted: 61
I start to notice that the peds are way harder to kill than in Carma 1 and 2. They die only if you hit them at very high speeds, or splatter them against solid objects. Otherwise they just lose a limb or two and carry on. It gets a bit irritating when you have to really commit to killing a single pedestrian. Also, only two to three seconds of extra time for killing a single ped? What a ripoff! Carma 1 and 2 give at least 15 seconds!
Mission 1: Send in the Sharks
Fastest time completed: 5:28
Most peds wasted: 10
This took three restarts because of that damn first bomb part in the mine entrance. At first I didn't even see the giant gap in front of the entrance, so down I went! After a few fruitless recoveries I had to restart, only to repeat the same mistakes over again.
When I tried this mission for the first time way back in the day, I remember the bomb getting stuck on top of the car after I tried to deploy it in front of the computer room doors. That sheer moment of pure "OH SHIT" is something that I associate with this mission to this very day.
Race 2: The Studio Tour
Fastest lap: 2:06
Fastest time completed: 12:07
Fastest opponent waste: 3:51
Fastest waste all opponents: 12:07
Most peds wasted: 16
This is the point where I notice how hitting opponents gives only about one or two extra seconds, no matter how hard you hit them. Again, Carma 1 and 2 give a lot more time. Even wasting an opponent gives only about a minute more. This combined with the very small ped kill time bonuses and checkpoints now giving extra 12 seconds, I find myself racing more than I did in the other games. That doesn't seem very Carmageddon-like...
Also, the wheels on some opponents are very wobbly. You know how Interstate '76 looks like when played without CPU clamping? It's a little like that. Does anyone know how to fix this?
Mission 2: Pop the Sucker
Fastest time completed: 4:22
Most peds wasted: 1
Default underwater physics feel like the Underwater Ability powerup from previous games. I don't mind this change, but this mission is still a bit slow if you try to chase the animatronic shark in the water.
Race 3: Hall of Fame
Fastest lap: 2:55
Fastest time completed: 12:24
Fastest opponent waste: 0:33
Fastest waste all opponents: 12:24
Most peds wasted: 29
This is where I realize one of the game's greatest weaknesses compared to the other titles. Wasting opponents feels really unsatisfying! The sheer joy of hurling a big lump of metal against another lump of metal and watching the weaker one crumble and explode is just GONE. There's no feeling of mass and energy. The boby panels feel like cardboard. Cars just sort of shatter with a gutless whimper. It's like toppling a house of cards by farting on it. Compared to 1 and 2 it all just feels so... Gutless. Watered down. Soulless. In most other driving games the damage physics would be ok, but not here. Not in Carmageddon.
Mission 3: Going Ape
Fastest time completed: 3:30
Most peds wasted: 9
A rather simple "get 3 things" mission. I've seen videos of the missions, so I knew how to get the last tricky fuse on the rock formation. Seeing a giant animatronic gorilla taking down a wall is one of the wackiest things I've seen in a video game. So far I've had more fun with TDR's missions than I ever did with Carmageddon 2's missions, which is a bit of a surprise.
And that concludes Part 1! Comments and constructive critisism are welcome. Stay tuned for Part 2: The Slums!