Flatout Ultimate Carnage

August 5, 2009 at 3:16 am | Posted in Reviews, Xbox 360 Reviews | Leave a comment
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Flatout: Ultimate Carnage

Published by: Empire Interactive
Developed by: Bugbear Entertainment
Genre: Racing
Release Date:
US: TBA
Europe: June 22, 2007
Also Available On: PC
Features: 16:9 Support, 480p Support, 720p Support, Xbox Live, Custom Soundtrack, Downloadable Content

Real Dangerous Drivers Wanted

-Overall: With recent shelf buster Forza 2 teaching us to prize our car, treat it with respect and take good care of them out on the track, Flatout: Ultimate Carnage not only stamps on that prospect, it dowses it in petrol and burns it to the ground, then only to do burnouts and donuts in its ashes. This action packed racer will give you a whole new idea into aggressive racing. With explosions, flips and crashes that will have you on the edge of your seat.

Now, owners of Flatout 2 will immediately notice, that many tracks, cars and features are the almost dead on the same this time round. And well, Flatout: Ultimate Carnage is in fact a complete rebuild of Flatout 2 but exclusively for the Xbox 360, possibly hinting for another exclusive when they shift out perhaps a Flatout 3 though don’t take my word for it just yet. But don’t be put off by this; this game still packs one hell of a new punch with a fistful of new offerings.

-Music/sound: Sticking with Flatout tradition, the tracks featured in the soundtrack aren’t from bands which aren’t promoted regularly in any form of media, this adds an idea of independence into the games sound and new good music is always better and more enjoyable to listen to than the same old tracks you hear on the radio. The bands have their own individual sounds and the artists include the likes of ‘The Sleeping’, and ’32 leaves’ amongst many others.

All the tracks are of a rock/alt rock/prog style, which suits to the style of game. Though they may not be to everyone’s tastes at the end of the day, many of the songs do have a way of sticking in your head or you grow to like them as time goes on. Still if rock isn’t your thing, the custom soundtrack is available to add your own songs to the background of the game.

The engines vary from Muscle car V8 roars to Half cab truck hisses. Each destructible piece of scenery comes with its own clunk and crash, even damage inside car has its own sounds, making the impacts feel alive and realistic. Even after taking too many hits, the chugs and clunks of your gearbox and chassis rattling as they hang off your car sound the part. With the music off and you on your own, the background noises adds more depth to the race, even with the sounds of gravel and dirt hitting the underneath of your car if you decide to cruse round the corners with no other noise going on. Those kind of details, when come together really make it what it is.

Impacts and explosions really give an impression of metal on metal grinding and a sense of dents and buckles of your cars body work. And boy, does it show too…

-Graphics: Anyone who’s owned a Flatout game will immediately recognize not only the style of graphics in Flatout, but just how much better they really are here on the Xbox 360, since the games been completely reworked, you can see the effort put into the cars and tracks, the cars have 20,000 polygons used, and that’s on each vehicle in the game. That’s a massive increase from the 7,000 used on the sequel. Each piece in not only the cars, but the tracks looks the part, and the end result is a flawless attempt. With no segment in a race or part on a car which looks out of place or un textured, each part adds to bringing the race alive and breathing.

-Gameplay: If you thought Flatout and its sequel was heavily destructible…each track has at least 8000 things ready for you and your fellow racers to plough through varying from Fences, to window panes, to oil barrels, and lets not forget, the all famous tire walls. Anyone not familiar with the Flatout series may not know its main reason for coming into such a good reception on both consoles, and that was its sheer on look on the no holds barred ability to interact with anything on the race track. On many racing games, being sent into a wall of tires will result in you crashing straight into it and possibly facing the wrong direction. Not with Flatout. Here, you hit a tire wall, and you’ll see yourself tearing through it, sending tires, body parts and other destructible items pouring into the race track, leaving more obstacles for the other racers.

The game itself consists of two modes. ‘Flatout’ and ‘Carnage’. Along with these single player modes are single events including time trials, Xbox live and a multiplayer ‘party mode’.

Flatout mode is your traditional racing. You buy a car to begin taking part in a series of cups, the first class you begin with is the Derby cup. These cars are already worse for wear, many don’t have much of a paint job and are probably a little rusty, leaving it obvious that not much of your body work is crossing the finish line after a few bouts with the other racers. The next class is Race, these cars, aren’t perfect looking, but have more tuned up upgrades and have racing stickers/decals on them. The final series is Street. These cars are the fastest of the whole selection in the game, upgraded heavily and usually in wild paint jobs, with stickers and body kits attached. The handling of the cars are safely and snug between realistic and arcade, and it’s a healthy mix of both which gives the racing vets an ability to put their skills to the test but also new comers a good chance to get into the games and not be put off. Within these classes you will race in championships usually made up of 3-5 races. These race tracks cover a lot of different terrain including Forests, deserts and the usual streets and tarmacs. As well as all these, there are some derbies and time trial events available to earn you extra cash as well as bonus tracks to race on.

The derbies are your typical bowl arena, fitted with 12 cars, each driver just as manic as you, all wanting to be the last man standing, your car is fitted with a health bar, as is the others and you battle it out with them to become the winner, in some other modes, respawns are available, and also power ups like armor and other things will help you succeed. The other drivers however can and will use these against you also.

Bonus tracks usually are made up of bowl races, or close quarter race tracks including the notorious figure of 8 with its deadly cross over sections. With each contact more painful than the last.

Carnage mode, is a more challenged based series of races and stunts, where earning more points will get you more points overall, unlocking more events to take part in. These events can be races where destroying the hell out of everything gets you more points or a check point style set of races, where if you don’t hit the next check point in time…you blow up. Nice.

The stunts, which come with a full arsenal of rocket engine equipped stunt vehicles to use, include a large selection of mini games, with unfortunately, no new additions from Flatout 2. The list included 12 events of: High Jump, Curling, Soccer, Ring of Fire, Ski Jump, Basketball, Stone Skipping, Field Goal, Royal Flush, Bowling and Darts.

Each of these mini-game events requires you to launch your driver from your car at high speeds at some sort of distance, height or target. This mode is also available in party mode with up to 8 players able to take turns in playing using one pad. Something I definitely recommended with groups of family or friends.

Playing through Flatout mode can be challenging, but is always fun. Not one race is always the same, with some areas going smoothly and some turning into complete multiple car wrecks. This is mainly because each of the other drivers have been given a character, which enabled the developers to give these people their own driving personalities, creating different driving styles to trying to race cleanly, to other racers becoming overly aggressive over time. This is was makes these races so much more fun than some racing games, due to the sheer fact, nothing can be predicted and everything can be expected from these races.

One thing that I have noticed is the slight increase in difficulty in the game. There’s far less chance of you winning in first place each time this time round, which I like. Especially seeing as I and no doubt you, will have much more fun fighting with the opposition than trying to win the race all the time, the only bad part from that, is that the cars sometimes split into 2-3 groups, with a few right far a head, and a bunch right at the back, with quite a distance between them sometimes making it quite difficult to keep up.

To pass to the next series of races you must come 3rd or higher, but a lot of the time, you’ll find yourself retaking some of the series’. But that really isn’t a problem, because playing through Flatout is just so much fun you can just keep playing it and not get bored.

– Xbox Live: The live features include a leader board for race times, carnage points and overall offline and online stats. Game modes include standard racing, stunts, derbies and wrecking races.

Not much is different from offline to online with the races and derbies. The only difference with the Stunts is that everyone goes at the same time, which greatly cuts on time wasting and stops the possibility of those annoying people over live holding the games up. Wrecking races are on some very narrow, more jump and crash inducing race tracks where instead of racing, you destroy each other, this again is a last man standing style game.

-Replay value/play time: The game will keep you going for a long time. Like all racing games, there best played in intervals to keep yourself from tiring from the same kind of thing, but to get all golds in both Flatout and Carnage modes will take a lot of people some time. With all that, there’s also a lot of things to unlock, car and bonus track wise, which will keep people going for the gold medals a lot more longer than they would without new content.

Achievements also add to life on this game, many of them, I’ve stumbled across by just playing through the game, not attempting at getting any of them, but the there are the few online ones, which wont take you weeks, but if you have a friend with you, will take some time to get through them. This game still has a lot to offer even after the races are done and the achievements are finished, it offers a hell of a lot more fun on any of the multiplayer modes and even if your on your own looking for a more challenging, race with less restrictions and boundaries like the recent racing games have in place.

-Conclusion: With all the new racing games out there, Flatout: Ultimate Carnage is a definite for gamers who enjoy racing with more of an edge, and especially for ones with a fighting spirit. If you already own Flatout 2 on the Xbox, I still recommend purchasing this, as not only does it breathe more life into a classic, it brings even more to the table with all the bonus content, and an improved Xbox Live experience. Flatout: Ultimate Carnage offers every gamer an experience of aggressive and at most times off-road racing at some of its ultimate best.

My rating: 8.6

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