FlatOut: Ultimate Carnage is the third FlatOut game in the series. It is a remake of FlatOut 2 made exclusively for the Xbox 360 with more content and gameplay tweaks. FlatOut is developed by Bugbear Entertainment who are fairly unknown and have only made a few games, none of which were hugely popular. My expectations of FlatOut were very low, as this was the first game I had played in the series and at first glance, thought it looked like a below par racer. Boy was I wrong!
FlatOut is a destruction derby style racing game. This doesn’t mean you have to drive around in a bowl all the time and smash each other up; there are a variety of different race types and even some extremely fun mini-games. The meat of the game is with FlatOut mode. In FlatOut mode there are three different classes of vehicles – Derby, Race and Street; your car can also be tuned by spending some of your hard earned cash on upgrades. These upgrades will improve your stats and make it easier to destroy your opponents on the track. In FlatOut mode you will be doing various activities from destruction derbies to races, working your way up through the ranks and ultimately becoming the best racer in the world. This is no easy task, as coming first in races can become extremely difficult.. One of my main problems with racing games is that I find my mind drifting whilst I am playing them as they are never fast enough or are too similar all the time. This is where FlatOut really excels – it’s simply an extremely fun game which always seems to keep you entertained and really keeps your attention for hours and hours.
For those moments when you fancy something a little more fun, there is the Carnage Mode. This comprises of 36 events in which you can get a bronze, silver of gold medal (or none, if you suck) in a variety of different tasks such as bowling, soccer, poker, basketball, beat the bomb, carnage race and good old fashioned destruction derbies. My main gripe in carnage mode is that even though the mini-games are varied, many of them rely on the same skill – choosing an angle to fire your driver in order to hit a certain target or object which can get a little tedious. If you don’t fancy doing either of the above modes then you can do single events or multiplayer online with your friends.
Game play is really where FlatOut stands out from the competition. Every other racer in the game has their own personality – some will be aggressive where as others are more skilled and tactical. The AI is superb and it really makes races and derbies feel genuinely competitive. Like any good destructive racer there are lots of collisions and most of the scenery within reason can be damaged and knocked down. Knocking over stacks of tires or even smashing an opponent will pick up points and nitrous which is invaluable for winning races. As the game has a lot of destructible scenery and other racers zooming around the track, you would normally expect a jittery frame rate. Luckily, FlatOut always remains smooth no matter how big your pile up is or how many objects you have smashed in to. Unfortunately, there are occasionally a few bugs with collisions such as objects staying on top of your vehicle or not being able to get another car off your bonnet, but these instances are not regular enough for this to spoil a fantastic game.
If you are used to the likes of Forza and Project Gotham, then the handling may seem a little bit light at first but it only takes a few races to get used to the control method – it’s about getting a good balance of braking and acceleration on some trickier corners, and this all comes to you as you play through the game. Otherwise, the controls have a standard feel.
The game demands more skill than you might have imagined. Smashing things and people does get you rewards in the form of nitrous and points, but on the flipside it also slows you down. Winning races later on can get extremely difficult as it’s hard to judge when to smash or when to try and avoid other racers and edge in front. This is one of the only gripes within the game as doing the same races over and over again can get unnerving. However, you will get a great feeling of accomplishment when you win a race after trying five or so times.
Graphically the game is excellent. It isn’t ultra-realistic by any stretch, but that is not what FlatOut is about. The textures are consistently good and the varieties of vehicle models are first class. There are many varied environments, each one with a totally different feel which adds much more variety to the game. This, coupled with a good sound track and sound effects makes the general presentation of the game superb.
Like any 360 game it wouldn’t be complete without an online mode. There are of course player matches and ranked matches in which you can do single races or tournaments. Within these races or tournaments you can race, stunt drive or a mixture of the two – there are also various smaller options which can be changed to tweak the game to how you would like it. The online multiplayer is addictive, especially the destruction derbies, and the best part? I am also yet to experience any lag which is essential for a fun online racing experience. The multiplayer experience is not just online. You can also have the same fun experience with friends close by via a split-screen multiplayer mode and have a weath of different game types to play through ranging from normal races to mini-games.
FlatOut really is a breath of fresh air in the racing genre. Yes there are a few similar games, but none of them pull it off as well as FlatOut does. Whether you like racing games or not I’m sure FlatOut will not disappoint you. Bugbear has made a genuinely fun game – simply a must buy.
Originally Written By: Joe