FlatOut: Ultimate Carnage
is a game that I approach with equal measures of hope and caution.
Hope that it might fulfil the promise of its very basic and hugely appealing concept ? the Dukes of Hazard
dream of racing big ol? bangers around dusty American wastelands, scoring equal points for reckless speed and causing mayhem and massive damage to other good ol? boys? beefed-up muscle cars and pick ups on the way.
Caution that the first couple of games in Empire Interactive?s smash-em-up series (on the original Xbox, PC and PS2) failed to live up to previous high expectations.
The fact that I mainly seem to remember the fun mini-games from the first outing in the series (FlatOut
darts, for example, which involved hilariously catapulting your driver out of the car through the windscreen into a target) really shows that the main bulk of that game, the actual racing, failed to satiate my desire for redneck racing carnage.
Will this latest outing in the series rectify this? Read on to find out.
The first thing that should be said is that the developers (at Bugbear, over in chilly Finland) are very keen to stress that FlatOut: Ultimate Carnage
is an Xbox 360 exclusive and thus the next-gen debut of a FlatOut
game. Presumably they couldn?t afford the high costs and risk of developing for the still unknown quantity that is the PlayStation 3. Either that, or Microsoft, like myself, has a penchant for stock car culture and decided to throw lots of money securing this game as a 360 exclusive. Either way, the first and most noticeable difference between FlatOut: Ultimate Carnage
and its predecessors are the sumptuous and shiny HD graphics.
Note though, that?s not ?shiny? as in Burnout
shiny (I really didn?t want to have to mention that game, but then it's unavoidable when offering these types of comparisons) but shiny in terms of the ways in which you really do get to see all the glorious detail of the smashes, scratches and crashes.
The frame-rate improvements in the game are also immediately noticeable. "Frame-rate" is one of those phrases that usually makes my brain feel sleepy, but in this case I have actually found myself using it when describing the game to friends, because FlatOut: Ultimate Carnage
is one of the smoothest racers I?ve played in a long time, which really adds considerably to the one-more-go appeal.
Oh, and did I mention that there are 12 cars in every race this time around, as opposed to a mere eight in the last game, as well as an impressive 8,000 fully destructible objects on the track?
The mention above of Burnout
(EA?s massive smash-em-up series) is pertinent because the first FlatOut
games were generally unfavourably compared to it. The good news is that there is no way anyone could belittling describe FlatOut: Ultimate Carnage
as ?the poor man?s Burnout?
and ? for me at least ? I actually prefer the look and feel of this game to EA?s hyper-real crash test dummy.
FlatOut Ultimate Carnage's
single-player mode features a progression through Derby, Race and Street classes, with the options to purchase various upgrades with your winnings. This booty enables even a non car-nut such as myself to do obvious things to your ol' banger such as improve acceleration, handling or top speed. This is no Forza 2
or Gran Turismo
, where petrolheads can get lost for hours (days) tweaking their precious cars; and it's all the better for it.