|FlatOut: Ultimate Carnage|
Publisher: Empire Interactive
Release Date: Out Now
Players: 1-8 online
Before I wrote the review for the next-gen smash Ďem up FlatOut: Ultimate Carnage I went back over the review I wrote for the original game for the Xbox. I whole-heartedly agree with everything I wrote in the review, and more things are the same than have changed, only this time there seems to have been a lot more love put into the game. Regardless of what you read in the review the first time you play this game you will have a big smile on your face.
FlatOut has firstly upped the stakes in its racing engine. Where before it felt like a pepped-up Destruction Derby it now plays a lot alike the Burnout games, but a lot grittier so perhaps like its inbred cousin. The ante has definitely been upped with the 360 as more of everything has been crammed onto the tracks: more cars on track (twelve now), more alternate routes and way more interactive items and scenery.
The graphics are some of the best Iíve seen on the 360, with the cars looking amazing until you bend the metal and cave the roof inÖ and then they look even better! The sun and shadow effects are very impressive (driving at dusk is almost impossible because of the glare!) and the tracks are intricately detailed. The interactive items blend perfectly with the static ones and when all hell breaks loose the frame rate stays constantly high, even with twelve cars causing mayhem on screen.
The computer racers all have names, back-stories and personalities. At first you think itís gimmicky but as you play youíll notice the same racers trying to stay ahead of the pack or out of the mid-pack mayhem and the ones trying to spin you off the track. Some of them will leave you alone if you donít mess with them and if you shove them around too much theyíll shove back. Having dynamic competition like this makes the races much more interesting as everyoneís not just interested in taking the racing line or smashing each other up.
The single player mode is still pretty similar: you buy a car, race in short cups and destruction derbies until youíve got enough to add simple upgrades to the car and so forth. The SP is split into three classes: Derby, Race and Street. The differences are essentially speed and difficulty; the cars are newer and less rusty and battered the higher up you go, but you race on pretty much the same courses.
The online mode is much improved and thankfully has more of a following. As well as having the same modes available in single player (races, derbies) you also get a few online exclusives, the best of which being a mode where after each lap the cars turn around and head the other way!
Another problem, which I found the worst, is when youíre dealing with other drivers. The best way to get another driver out of the way is to get up behind them and turn into their rear end so they spin out and end up facing the wrong way. Unfortunately nine times out of ten when you try this the car will start to spin and then attach itself to your bonnet sideways and itís pretty much impossible to get them off without ruining the race so you have to restart. Again.
The game also isnít without its share of bugs, which arenít too bad but when combined with the other problems lead to a few more restarts. Most of the problems revolve around the interactive items; some will hover in mid-air after their supports have been knocked out and some will rest on the front of your car as youíre driving along until you turn a sharp corner or make a jump. In more extreme cases, items actually get stuck inside the car. Itís quite annoying to be on the last lap of a race in first only for a fence post to stick lengthways through your car. You drive more slowly because the game recognises youíre constantly hitting an obstruction but you canít dislodge items that get stuck in the car, so you have to restart again.
But even throughout the physics problems, bugs or times the other drivers rammed you into a wall on the last corner I always did restart. In the original FlatOut the constant restarting began to grate quickly but even through the problems itís the most fun Iíve had on my 360 in a long time. The handlingís just how I like it, the action is fast, the races donít last more than a few minutes and I can smash more stuff up than the cast of Mercenaries on the commute home. Other reviewers may give this a 7 but every other element of the game is exactly what I want and without the problems it would be a 9 for sure.
FlatOut: Ultimate Carnage is a really fun arcade racing game with destruction galore, challenging AI and inventive track design. However, the unpredictable and at times buggy physics may be a little unforgiving for some gamers and it takes a lot of patience to keep playing.
- Top-notch graphics
- More destruction than an Arnie film
- Varied AI
- Online play
- Did I mention you can smash a lot of stuff?
- Physics buggy in places
- Just plain wrong in others
- Playing with the faster cars will hurt your eyes
- You might lose your license (or an arm) if you tried it in real lifeÖ