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...


  • JBizFoShiz - February 23, 2011 10:37 a.m.

    Thank you for including MSR on your list. Few people know of its existence (it was a Dreamcast game, after all), but I wasted countless hours perfecting slides and getting as much kudos as I could. If I remember right, my favorite car was the Toyota Celica - its small-size and nice horsepower led to some exciting races with LOTS of kudos-earning slides. However, no love for Demolition Racer? Sure, I know Carmageddon, Death Race and the like did it better (arguably), but this was the first game in my personal gaming history that allowed me to KILL a driver by landing my car on top of his car. This kill was named "Death from Above", and was the hardest kill to get in any race. The purpose of the game was not to only cross the finish line, but also kill everybody else so you were the only one to cross PERIOD. I personally miss causing a car to spin out and hitting it perfectly perpendicular, causing the driver to die and earning me the "T-Boned" kill. I can't be the only one who remembers this game! I'm not even a driving game fan. reCaptcha: Hunewse Journal "Who news journal?"
  • requiemforaseam - February 23, 2011 10:38 a.m.

    Burnout 3...ahhhhh the nostalgia. Also, FIRST!!!
  • Landshark - February 23, 2011 10:39 a.m.

    I think a possible cool premise for a car racing game would be a co-op versus game in which each car hold 2-4 people, each doing a certain task. Someone is the driver, another does repairs through nifty little retro 8-bit games, someone is co-pilot controlling what radio station/CD is on which give different stat boosts depending on the station/cd and firing a light weapon, and then the main gunner just letting their enemies eat lead. They then either try to kill other teams, capture the flag, kill the most zombies, or whatever. Yeah, it might suck due to lack of cooperation or it's just a bad idea. But this seemed like as good a place as any to talk about it.
  • Landshark - February 23, 2011 10:41 a.m.

    ^Can we report when people claim to be first but aren't?
  • b1on1cman - February 23, 2011 11 a.m.

    Carmageddon was first released in 1997 and not in 1993, as computers weren't strong enough to run this game in 1993. It also had 3Dfx support which came out around 1996 if i'm not mistaken. As for the other platforms, such as Playstation and N64, it was released even later in the decade (1999 and 2000).
  • NeelEvil - February 23, 2011 11:12 a.m.

    @Landshark- I usually do, especially if it's a one sentence statement with barely anything to do with the article just so they can claim first. No love for Postman Prat on the Spectrum? Those were the days, running over cats & old ladies. Never seemed to actually deliver any post though.
  • Goug - February 23, 2011 11:59 a.m.

    I remember playing Road Rash, there's no way it was that ugly! In my memories, it was looking way better than that. I wouldn't mind a new Carmageddon, the driving and damages were really good, in the 2nd one. TDR 2000 was not bad, rather nice looking with nice handling, but more depressing than funny to play.
  • Montag - February 23, 2011 12:20 p.m.

    I urge everybody to try Deathchase even now. Totally awesome game when first released, still a challenge... go Speccie
  • Montag - February 23, 2011 12:22 p.m.

    Oh and did you know the original driver only had right angled corners, no curves?
  • Robx - February 23, 2011 12:27 p.m.

    We could be very good friends, Justin, oh yes...
  • 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?)
  • 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.
  • BeerBaron - February 23, 2011 2:33 p.m.

    Would love to see a remake of the old C64 Racing Destruction Set.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Japanaman - February 23, 2011 3:28 p.m.

    Of course, I totally failed to mention Vigilante 8 and Rogue Trip.
  • 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).
  • 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
  • BurntToShreds - February 23, 2011 4:56 p.m.

    What does .06 pounds mean? Do you guys still use pences?
  • 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.

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