History of dangerous driving in videogames

Carmageddon - 1993

Hmmm... running over pedestrians who were changed into the reanimated dead to allow censorship boards to classify the game? Sounds very similar to Death Race, doesn’t it? In fact, Carmageddon was, at one point, a licensed videogame for the movie Death Race 2000. It’s all come full circle. Or, it would have done, but the license was dropped and the game became Carmageddon instead. And how’s that for a pun that still describes the game perfectly?

The game arrived at a time when polygonal 3D was just taking off, and allowed a fully 3D environment. The graphics look pretty shocking these days, but back when it was released in 1993, Carmageddon was a genuinely sick game to own - especially as it let you edit together replay movies.

Dangerous driving wasn’t just encouraged - it was the point of the game. Sure, you could win just by being first over the line, but destorying every single rival racer was equally worthy of the trophy. And how about mowing down every single pedestrian in the city? That’ll do too.

The game had everything - damage modelling, girls, gore... only problem is, I can’t look at this picture any more without thinking of suicidal Pikmin...

Above: What kind of person drives a car along a beachfront, deliberately running over sunbathers?


Driver - 1999

You're probably expecting Grand Theft Auto III to make an appearance on this list, but if you're talking about the history of dangerous driving, there's one game that taught GTA almost everything it knows: Driver. The 1999 original did everything that GTA III did a couple of years later, only minus the bloodshed and without the ability to leave your car (and even the sequel did that after GTA's epic arrival in the 3D age).

The idea behind the game was always meant to be that you were a criminal getaway driver (which the name implies if you think about it), but developer Reflections soon realised it would make for a more universal game if you were an undercover cop. Thing is, the police are still out to get you, as though nobody told them about your covert operation.

The result are some of the most daring driving sequences in any game. Darting in and out of traffic with PSone's slightly clumsy physics and scenery pop-up was amazing fun as you tried to shake the cops. If I had a dime for every white picket fence I smashed through... I could probably afford the iPhone version.

The icing on the cake was the director mode (something that's sorely missing from the iPhone release), which allowed you to not only watch replays, but save them to memory card. better yet, you could position the cameras! With careful frame-by-frame manipulation, you could even add tracking shots that pulled up and away from the car. Thankfully, the end results looked exactly like a 70s car chase movie, so it was worth all those 'wasted' hours.

Above: Yup, set the camera, advance one frame, select static camera, direction, advance one frame...


  • philipshaw - February 24, 2011 5:48 p.m.

    Great article and you got most of my favorites,but I would say Burnout 3 was more important than Burnout 2 was
  • Fr00b - February 24, 2011 2:29 p.m.

  • samirbvr - February 24, 2011 4:49 a.m.

    "every MotorStorm racer knows you HAVE to cross the line while halfway through exploding yourself" Nailed it!!!
  • MadMan - February 23, 2011 10:51 p.m.

    This article is obsolete because its about dangerous driving and never mentions Grand Theft Auto.... WTF?????
  • AleeR - February 23, 2011 10:30 p.m.

    Also Quarentine for DOS.
  • NightCrawler_358 - February 23, 2011 9:47 p.m.

    Nice entries, Death Race made me laugh. I would've recommended Twisted Metal somewhere in there though.
  • revrock - February 23, 2011 8:58 p.m.

    Blast Corps?
  • tacehtselrahc - February 23, 2011 7:16 p.m.

    No Destruction Derby? or the original Grand Theft Auto?
  • El72125 - February 23, 2011 6:41 p.m.

    You forgot Stuntman
  • TheWebSwinger - February 23, 2011 6:22 p.m.

    This article...this article isn't inspired by that Nic Cage Drive Angry movie is it?
  • bass88 - February 23, 2011 6:12 p.m.

    Twisted Metal? Dangerous driving was encouraged. Even the manual told you not to feel discouraged when running down pedestrians. Nice list however.
  • BurntToShreds - February 23, 2011 4:56 p.m.

    What does .06 pounds mean? Do you guys still use pences?
  • gazdog9 - February 23, 2011 4:02 p.m.

    Ha ! I'd almost forgotten Deathchase on my old 16K Spectrum. That's right kids , back in the old days this was considered cutting edge . I remember that game giving me a blinding headache. The colours man, so many colours
  • Sy87 - February 23, 2011 3:50 p.m.

    They do need to make a new Carmageddon. Whats funner than running people over? Can you blame me for wanting to destroy stuff most of the drivers to day are annoying. They either want to drive too fast or go to slow under the limit. Or they rush for a queque stop in front of you that they could have just taken behind you it saves them like no time. Anyway car destroying game is needed. Something cool like driver mix with twisted metal and gta(without the whole criminal activity stuff and all just road rage relief).
  • Japanaman - February 23, 2011 3:28 p.m.

    Of course, I totally failed to mention Vigilante 8 and Rogue Trip.
  • Japanaman - February 23, 2011 3:27 p.m.

    Seriously? You guys TOTALLY FAIL to mention Twisted Metal, Super Runabout (AKA Felony 11-79), Auto Destruct, Full Auto, Saints Row, GTA, Mario Kart, Crash Nitro Kart, Speed Punks, Mod Nation Racers, Street Racers, Hard Drivin', Race Drivin', Chase HQ, Spy Hunter, Bump N Jump, Star Wars: Episode 1 Racer, Motorcross Mania, Dirt, Fuel, Rush 2049, Outrun, Roadblasters, Star Wars Racing (or whatever it was called), Narc (the Arcade game), Mach Rider, MechWarrior/Assault, and every vehicle based military game ever made.
  • YuGiOhisbetterthanMagic - February 23, 2011 2:45 p.m.

    I loved rouge squadron. even the on foot parts were epic. I really with they would make another one.
  • BeerBaron - February 23, 2011 2:33 p.m.

    Would love to see a remake of the old C64 Racing Destruction Set.
  • willheuer - February 23, 2011 12:59 p.m.

    Im a little surprised Bump 'n Jump was left out, i realize its for the Intelivision but its like the first Burnout.
  • yonderTheGreat - February 23, 2011 12:40 p.m.

    STUNNING CUNT BONUS!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (for those not in the know, that's what the "cunning stunt bonus" in Carmageddon was referred to as... I'm assuming I won't get put in a time-out for that?)

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