Developed by:Gamepires Published by:Gamepires Genre(s):
  • Racing
  • Platform:
  • PC
  • Cost:$29.99 ESRB Rating:TEEN Players:1 (2-8 Online) Release date:May 18, 2012 Reviewed on:PC

    Gas Guzzlers: Combat Carnage

    One of the hardest things to do when you become a video game journalist is to review subpar games that have the potential to be better. On one hand, you feel bad for not recommending the game to others. You think “if only the developer would have done something different, then this title would have been better. Surely I could go easy on them”. On the other hand, you have to give constructive criticism; it’s your job really. This is how I feel when talking about Gamerpires first title, Gas Guzzlers: Combat Carnage.

    Gas Guzzlers (GG) is a car combat racing game. Not the regular arena-based, automobile battle type of game like Twisted Metal. It’s more akin to a realistic sim racer, with combat elements just sprinkled in to mix things up. There are two modes of play; single player and multiplayer. You’ll spend most of your time in the single player mode, which features the normal “career” play where you have to qualify (make the top three) in races to unlock more cars, tracks, etc. At the beginning of the single player, you’ll be sent over to your garage to customize your first vehicle. There are a few customization options (like paint color and stickers) available from the start. After you’ve finished detailing you’re ride, it’s off to the race track. GG offers three different race types; Classic, Battle, and Knockout. Unfortunately, only the Classic races are available to newcomers. Here lies the first problem. I don’t think I’ll ever understand the concept of having the gamer unlock complementary modes. It isn’t like the other race types are extra bonus features tacked on for those who beat the game. These race types are integral parts of the overall package; each one adds to your racer’s overall career status.

    To be fair, the game starts you off with only one vehicle and no weapons or upgrades. So, there is some logic to not allowing new players to access the other race types. With that said, it would have been better to give gamers a little help at the start of the game. This is largely due to the fact that it is rather difficult to win, let alone qualify in a race. I’ll come back to this later; first, let me explain how the game works. GG uses an economy system, where winning races provides you with cash used to buy cars and later upgrade them. It also uses an unlocking mechanic; everything besides the first race track has to be unlocked by qualifying in races. In other simulation racers, you’re given a small collection of cars and tracks to play on. Not only that, you are usually given some starting funds to get you going. Now before you call me a cry baby, note that my issue isn’t necessarily that GG doesn’t do those two things. The issue goes back to the difficulty in acquiring the funds, the status to progress, and how the design of the game increases the difficulty.

    Because this game is more sim like than arcade, beating the AI requires great driving skills. Heck, it takes a decent amount of skill to just make it to third place and qualify. Hitting a bump, scraping against a wall, or just not being fast enough (something that’s often out of your hands) usually results in you getting passed by every other racer on the track. To make matters worse is that there are power-ups (offensive and defensive items) available that, instead of helping you to progress through the track, actually hinders your race. A well placed landmine will cause you to be thrown off course, which warrants going to the pause menu and picking the “restart” option. Remember if you don’t at least end in third, you don’t get anything; no money, no unlocks, nothing. Basically, tough AI and random obstacles (power-ups) deter gamers from staying in a race if they lose their position. This means that they’ll spend a large amount of time racing on the same track…with the same car…often leading to the same conclusion!

    Another way you can get cash is by running over money bag icons out on the track. Which was the only way I made it to third on that first track; I had to race over and over until I made enough money to buy a single upgrade to my car. It’s safe to say that I was a little frustrated by the time I made it to the second track. I continued this process of money grinding until I unlocked my first weapon and inadvertently, the Battle race type. My luck started to look up when I jumped into these races, if only barely. In the battle races, you have to come in third just like before. Instead of just giving you power-ups, you’re able to use mounted weapons ranging from giant quad-barreled shotguns (that can flip a car with one shot) to rocket launchers. With the introduction of weapons, comes the fear of being taken out of the race; too many hits and its game over. The cool thing is that you have to get to a half-way point in the first lap before you can start attacking one another. This causes crazy tension as you get closer to that mark. The payoff was great at first; cars are riddled with bullets, rockets whip past you at high speeds, and explosions erupt in the distance. My first few races were awesome because I was qualifying more often. This meant I would finally be able to see more of what this game had to offer, now that I could actually compete. The only reason I was qualifying was because the other racers were being taken out by their AI opponents. You see, early on I was just surviving. It wasn’t till I’d unlocked more upgrades that I was able to utilize my handling abilities to win on my own merits. That’s when I “really” started enjoying GG, you know…hours into the game.

    The last race type was Knockout. These races allowed power ups and weapons like the battles, except the last person to cross the finish line of each lap is eliminated. This mode can be equally exhilarating and incredibly frustrating…often at the same time! This brings me to the second and greatest issue I had with GG. In arcade racers or other racing games that utilize combat elements, those who aren’t doing well will often be given a way to close the gap. In Mario Kart, the last place driver will get stronger specials (like giant bombs) while the person in the lead will get things like banana peels. If that’s not the case, the developers will normally add clever shortcuts; again, giving the drivers in the back a chance to catch up. The reason they do this is because they know that the chaotic nature of their games can be unfair, and subsequently hard to enjoy. Winning and losing starts to become based on luck and not skill. The opposite is true for simulation racers. They are all about skill. Games like Forza require precise driving skills and in some cases, good knowledge of the featured cars. Gas Guzzlers tries to float in the middle of these two types of racing games, and unfortunately it just doesn’t work. The shortcuts pose a big risk due to their difficult routes and the payoff isn’t noticeable enough to make them worth the hassle. Getting knocked around in GG will cause most gamers just to restart the race, rather than fight their way to the top. That is especially the case when playing Knockout races!

    Because GG tries to be both arcade and sim, the game feels broken. It would be different if the Classic option was just normal racing. I would be perfectly satisfied if the races were challenging due to design and physical mechanics alone, advancing to the next race would be solely based on driving and handling skill. But, being blinded by an opponent’s smokescreen while trying to pass them at breakneck speeds using simulation mechanics is not a very fun experience. The laws of physics do not favor these types of situations. On the flip side, if Gamepires wanted to make a full out arcade racer, then things would have fared better. Then it wouldn’t matter if I got blindsided by a chain gun-carrying sedan. I’d still have plenty of chances to get back in the race using speed boots, cool shortcuts, or whatever feature they’d put in to make the races more balanced. As it is right now, there really isn’t a good way to catch up to the other racers if you take a rocket up the tail pipe, even if you are a grandmaster of simulation racing!

    Each of these race types can be played online. The problem here was that there was no one to play with. Either there aren’t many people playing or Gamepires is having trouble with their servers. I didn’t get to play online at all; when I finally found someone I wasn’t able to join the server. This was an unfortunate setback, since the online gameplay really could have saved Gas Guzzlers. It might have been easier to let the other issues slide if you were not playing against the super skilled AI racers found in the single player mode.

    Gas Guzzlers is a difficult game to defend. While it isn’t a terrible game, it’s not a very good one either. It doesn’t suffer from bad graphics, the audio is tolerable, there is a decent selection of cars, and the Battle races can be fun. At the same time the grinding nature in the beginning, the bipolar gameplay, and the lack of players online make its price tag seem expensive. I do think it is possible to make an arcade/simulation hybrid. I also think that Gamepires could do it; Gas Guzzlers 2 has the potential to be big! Unfortunately, based on my experience, I can’t recommend this title in its current iteration.




    This game takes a while to get good, and then it gets bad again!



    It’s not a bad looker.



    The sound quality was decent.

    What's New:


    There really wasn’t anything new featured here outside of its sim/arcade gameplay. All of the modes were similar to other racing titles.

    Replay Value:


    Even if you play long enough to unlock a lot of cars and tracks, not having any human competitors will seriously limit one’s play time!

    Final Score:


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