Total Carnage (Arcade) review
"General Ahkboob is a bad, bad man. Armed with nothing but butchered English, bugging eyes, and psychotic grin, he’s converted a baby milk factory, a place normally used to feed the innocent youths of America, into a hive of scum and villainy. From this sinister lair, the madman has created an army of mutant freaks and technological abominations. He’s also kidnapped hundreds, if not thousands of reporters, tourists, and random bystanders and turned them into hostages and test subjects for his inh..."
General Ahkboob is a bad, bad man. Armed with nothing but butchered English, bugging eyes, and psychotic grin, he’s converted a baby milk factory, a place normally used to feed the innocent youths of America, into a hive of scum and villainy. From this sinister lair, the madman has created an army of mutant freaks and technological abominations. He’s also kidnapped hundreds, if not thousands of reporters, tourists, and random bystanders and turned them into hostages and test subjects for his inhumane experimentations. His goal is both simple and terrible; with his forces on the rise, Ahkboob will take over the United States and eventually the world. As the government looks on in horror, his abominations rush forth and begin their assault on the population.
In order to eliminate this threat, the military has devised a plan unlike anything they’ve ever attempted: they’ve summoned Captain Carnage, the manliest (and grotesquely over-muscled) soldier of fortune to ever set foot on American soil, and unleashed him upon the mutant army. That’s right. There will be no large-scale assault, no aerial battles, not even any real tactics involved. Instead, Captain Carnage (and Major Mayhem, if you find someone willing to do a little co-op action) will saunter into the depths of the baby milk factory armed with as many guns, missiles, and grenades as a single man can possibly carry, then mow down whatever gets in his way. Sure, he’ll get to free hostages (who are somehow allowed to wander through the enemy stronghold unguarded) and nab a few rubies, cash, and American flags scattered along the way, but his goal is to kill anything that looks evil. Needless to say, the odds are stacked against him.
At least, if General Ahkboob’s forces weren’t complete idiots. The average mutant freak is comes equipped with slimy coat of skin, inhumanly proportioned limbs, and a machine gun. There will be other monstrosities, like giant spiders, hopping insects, and zombies made of poisonous jello. The problem is that few of these fearsome foes ever make use of their abilities; instead of utilizing their firearms, the vast majority of the regular enemies will simply amble toward you. Since many of the mutants will disintegrate upon taking a few bullets, all you’ll really have to do is aim the gun and mash the firing button and watch the thousands upon thousands of enemies scream and keel over into bloody heaps. Once you’ve managed to slaughter everything in the cramped battleground, you’ll endure a few more gory skirmishes before finally taking on the game’s brutally difficult bosses. Rinse and repeat a few times, and Captain Carnage retake the baby milk factory in no time.
That doesn’t mean that Total Carnage is going to be a breeze, though. Even if most of your enemies are inept, they still outnumber our hero by the thousands. With an onslaught of tanks, jets and other conventional war machines adding to the strength the mutant army, you’ll find yourself dodging a hail of unfriendly fire while desperately searching for the weapons that randomly materialize onscreen. Despite your best efforts, the never-ending rush of foes will likely force you to spend a small fortune in quarters before everything is said and done. To level the playing field, the game grants you access to a varied arsenal throughout the crusade. Even if the default assault rifle can take down a lesser goon with a single bullet, you’ll find that a cache of missiles, or machine gun ammo will work wonders on even the toughest crowds. Even a brief spray of shotgun pellets can send an enemy to its knees. There’s something morbidly entertaining about picking up a flamethrower and turning a legion of flesh-eating musclemen into large pile of charred, flaming corpses. With so many deadly weapons at your disposal, General Ahkboob won’t know what hit him.
That won’t stop him from making an idiot of himself, though. As Captain Carnage rips through body after mutated body, the maniacal madman will contact the American military and (thanks to some hilarious voice acting from Mortal Kombat creator Ed Boon) spout a bunch of incoherent gibberish. Every once in a while, you’ll hear him scream, “YOU SUCK AT THIS GAME” or “Why are you attacking us? All we’re making is baby milk!” Right. As if his protests can drown out the agonized screams of his dying followers and the fearful pleadings of his kidnapped victims. All the while, you’ll get to see the bloody crusade from a distant birds-eye perspective, making much of the combat hazy at best. Sure, you can see Captain Carnage’s blond mess of hair and bulging biceps, but you’ll never notice his monstrously toothy grin and flowing bandana until you see some of the cutscene animations in-between levels. You’ll be able to make out enemy body parts being torn off in bloody chunks, but many of the foes’ uniforms, flaming torsos, and bladed weapons look like a mishmash of pixilated colors. In fact, the only truly graphic image is of our hero being launched into the air with his intestines spilling out of his now-gaping chest cavity after getting blown up by a landmine.
Despite its best intentions, Total Carnage doesn’t quite measure up to what its predecessor, Smash TV, brought to the table. It features the same kind of run-and-gun gameplay of the first game, but molded to fit into a parody of every cheesy B-movie wartime epic ever seen. While other games of the genre focused more on strategy, this game essentially gives you an unlimited supply of weapons to annihilate and endless amount of foes. Cheap difficulty aside, there’s nothing very engaging about merely shooting a bunch of soldiers that mindlessly run to their deaths. At least the first game gave enough charisma to the combat; Total Carnage doesn’t have the same kind of charm.
Community review by disco (May 20, 2007)
Disco is a San Francisco Bay Area native, whose gaming repertoire spans nearly three decades and hundreds of titles. He loves fighting games, traveling the world, learning new things, writing, photography, and tea. Not necessarily in that order.
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