Gamepires new PC combat racing game, Gas Guzzlers: Combat Carnage is currently in open beta, and I had a chance to give the game a test drive (get it?) for some vehicular mass destruction fun times.
Gas Guzzlers: Combat Carnage is being marketed as a “combat racing” game. That is, basically, a racing game where you can shoot at and possibly destroy the other cars. This is not an entirely new concept, the Wipeout games for example allow you to use weapons and powerups and of course who can forget Mario Kart? However, Gas Guzzlers is more of a down and dirty, grown up affair with customizable muscle cars brandishing mounted machine guns, rocket launchers and shotguns. You can pickup a variety of pickups along the way to aid you including instant repairs, shields, additonal ammo, mines, oil slicks and even nitro boosts.
Visually speaking, the developers have a gone a long way in portraying a gritty style. You’ll race on and off road in locations around the world. The preview build I got to mess around with had only two tracks, one in a rocky, mountainous winding stretch that was reminiscient of the American Southwest, and an Egyptian desert style track complete with pyramids in the background. The cars range in style from lean looking muscle cars to more compact models. The demo included four different sleek looking stock cars to choose from each with different default mounted weapons. The cars will also display damage done to them as they get more and more beat up and collect dirt and mud from the tracks. There were also some nice lighting effects with rays of sunlight shooting through cracks in caves and around trees and buildings. The game may need some more optimization however, as even though it defaulted to high settings on my beefy gaming rig it chugged along at an almost unplayable frame rate. I made a few minor adjustments and from then on out the game ran pretty smoothly.
Like most racing games, success on the track relies on precision driting around tight corners with strategic use of the handbrake to help out during trickier manuevers. The tracks switch from off road to on road and while I expected the off road sections to control a little more loosely (since I’m mostly spinning out on dirt and/or gravel) I found the controls on the asphalt to be a little loose in sections as well. Add in the fact that your competitors are constantly shooting at you or leaving mines or oil slicks in your path and things can get a little hectic. Mounted weapons can be fired both forwards and backwards, which I thought was a nice little feature. The idea of winning a race either the old fashioned way or by systematically destroying the competition (literally) certainly has some sort of fiendish appeal. [pullquote_right]systematically destroying the competition (literally) certainly has some sort of fiendish appeal.[/pullquote_right]
The sound so far is adequate, but there seems to be a default voice for your driver that sounds like an angry profanity spewing trucker, which was the same on all the cars. Hopefully we’ll get more variety when the game actually launches. The tongue-in-cheek approach is appreciated, but I worry that it might get a bit grating after a while. A lot of the one-liners came off as more than a little forced. The music was somewhat generic, but the sound effects, from the explosions and gunfire to the squealing tires were pretty spot on.
To be honest, once I got used to the controls (and got it to work with my gamepad) there was definitely some fun to be had. I’m curious to see how the customization works in the full game and to try out some of the other tracks in some more varied environments. The full game will also have bonus objectives per track for extra cash and incentives like that can go a long way towards replay value. Also, it would be nice to see how this concept plays out in multiplayer. Gas Guzzlers: Combat Carnage is in public beta with a release date yet to be announced. For more info, check out the Gamepires official site. You can also try the game out for yourself by downloading a beta build from Fileplanet. Stay tuned to the Game Fanatics for our full review when the game launches.