Post Apocalyptic Mayhem
Gameplay 6
Graphics 6
Sound 6

Post Apocalyptic Mayhem is pretty bare bones when compared to other racing titles on the market and it has somewhat of a low-budget feel to it, but provided you can get into a decent multi-player match there is lots of fun to be had. The free DLC released for the game has also since been integrated with the base game.

Gameplay: Despite the floaty controls and lack of variety there is still fun to be had.

Graphics: Nothing spectacular, but the visuals aren’t too shabby.

Sound: Pretty generic

Summary 6.0 Above Average
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Post Apocalyptic Mayhem

Developer: Steel Monkeys | Publisher: Next Dimension Game Adventures Ltd. | Release Date: 2011 | Genre: Action / Racing | Website: n/a | Purchase: Steam

The PSone era saw the rise of some very cool vehicular-based combat games, but sadly, the genre seems to have fallen out of favour in recent years.  This gap in the market has prompted Indie developer, Steel Monkeys, to step up to try to breathe some life back into the genre.  While the intentions were good, the end result leaves a lot to be desired.

If you enjoy a good story, then you are out of luck with this one.  The world has ended, civilization lies in ruins and the few people that are left, are trying to kill one another using outrageous vehicles equipped with bizarre weapons.  Actually, since no characters are ever shown in the game, the vehicles could all have turned sentient for all I know.  Bottom line is, it is a kill or be killed world.  Post-Apocalyptic Mayhem or P.A.M. for short had a bit of a rocky start.  Shipped with only six cars and three tracks, not even its low asking price could hide the lack of content.  It has since received two new tracks and three cars, free of charge, but is it a case of too little too late?

It is clear to see that P.A.M. was designed with multi-player as its primary focus.  In single player, you can try Arcade mode, which allows you to pick a car, track and difficulty level, after which you have five minutes to rack up as many kills as possible.  The only other option, “Apocalyptic Challenge” is the same thing, just with all the tracks played in succession.  The “various intense race modes” touted by the Store page is quite misleading.  On the multi-player side of things, you have ranked or unranked games, but with the former, you are limited to the same game modes as in single player.  Unranked gives you the option to race a set amount of laps or reach a certain number of kills, but that is your lot.  I was fortunate enough to try out the multi-player during a free weekend promotion on Steam, but afterwards finding online opponents was a bit harder.  While initially fun, the multiplayer was spoiled a bit by the amount of rage quitters I encountered, as well as some inherent design flaws.

Each vehicle in the game comes equipped with three different weapons.  They are unique to each vehicle, but all fulfill the same purpose.  You have your short-range forward firing weapon, a side-attack and a rear attack.  Since the maps are al circuit-based and you get way more points for kills than laps, a little problem starts to creep into the gameplay.  In a typical match, everyone races to the front of the pack, in search of a “red barrel” pickup that gives you one rear attack.  The problem is, unlike the stupid A.I. in the game that  plays right into this trap, most players will just stop and wait for the road to clear.  Racing ahead of the pack has no benefit, as you will just be left with no points and no action.  This leads to people in front slowing down or even stopping to wait for the ones behind them to catch up again.  It gives races a stop, start feel, which is the last thing you want in a fast-paced racing game.

Visually, the game looks good, nothing spectacular, but pretty good for an Indie title.  The vehicles are the stars of the show with some pretty imaginative designs.  A school bus, RV, pickup truck and even a pink beetle with a unicorn on the hood are all at your disposal.  The designs all have a very “Twisted Metal” feel to them.  The most recent addition to the game is a three-car dlc pack consisting of an ice-cream van, tow truck and police car, but unlike the other updates, this one is not free.  The cars are fun to use, especially the police one, but whether it’s worth shelling out cash for is up to you to decide.  It is a pity that there is no way to upgrade or customize any of the cars in the game, as this could have made things more interesting.

While the game takes place in a post-apocalyptic setting, the tracks are a little on the bland side.  You have a pretty non-descript desert wasteland, a concrete jungle winding through the crumbled remains of a city, and “Cold War Beach,” which is littered with the derelict remains of war machinery.  Death area 8 is the closest thing this game has to an arena, but from a visual standpoint, this figure 8 shaped track has little going for it.  Airplane Cemetery, which is the latest free addition, fares a bit better, but reminded me a lot of the Flatout series.  None of the tracks feature any sort of environmental interaction beyond leaping over ramps or falling into pits.

Unless you have a Xbox360 gamepad, the controls will feel awkward.  The game seems to know this, as it will just assume that you have one.  The pickups and everything are marked using the 360 buttons, which is great if you actually have one.  The car handling is thoroughly arcadish, and whatever devastated the planet, must have done something to gravity as well.  Even the largest vehicles flip and fly through the air like they are made out of cardboard, and while unrealistic, its actually quite fun.  You can even control your vehicle in the air to a certain degree.  The audio is a bit lacking, with only a few generic background tracks and a highly repetitive “Kill” voice sample.

While I did have fun playing P.A.M., it is hard to recommend the game in its current state at full price.  If the developers continue to tighten things and update it with more content, then it might be worthwhile.  Unfortunately, at this stage, multi-player games are scarce and the single player still does not have enough to keep you hooked for long.  The Steam achievements and online leaderboards might be enough for some, but the long list of minor (and not so minor) niggles will probably scare off most players.  This genre is well worth bringing back, but unfortunately, Post Apocalyptic Mayhem is not the game to do it.

*Review originally published 2013.

System Requirements

  • OS: Windows® XP/Vista™/7
  • Processor: Intel P4 3.0GHz or similar AMD
  • Memory: 1GB RAM
  • Hard Disk Space: 1GB available space
  • Video Card: nVidia GeForce 6800 Ultra, ATi Radeon X1800 XT or better
  • DirectX®: 9.0c, June 2010 update
  • Sound: DirectX 9.0c support
  • OS: Windows® XP/Vista™/7
  • Processor: Intel P4 3.0GHz or similar AMD
  • Memory: 1GB RAM
  • Hard Disk Space: 1GB available space
  • Video Card: nVidia GeForce 6800 Ultra, ATi Radeon X1800 XT or better
  • DirectX®: 9.0c, June 2010 update
  • Sound: DirectX 9.0c support

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